2022 NFL draft: Grades for all 32 first-round picks

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First-round picks

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There were picks—and the commissioner was getting hugged and picked up plenty—during the first round of the 2022 NFL draft in Las Vegas. How did each team do? Let’s take a look…

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, Georgia

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The Jacksonville Jaguars went for potential over a sure thing. Time will tell if the risk was worth it, but this isn’t a tea, that has time to gamble. Walker had six sacks in Georgia’s national championship season. He also had 7.5 tackles for a loss.  Have to wonder if they could have traded back and still got Walker while adding more picks. And now, NFL Network reports Walker was in a car accident a couple of weeks ago, hitting parked cars. Sigh. Grade: C+

2. Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

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The Lions wound up with the player many thought was going to go No. 1 for a long time leading up to the draft. Detroit wins by grabbing the 6-foot-6, 265-pound defensive force from Michigan. Hutchinson had 14 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss in 2021. The Lions should send something to the Jags for dropping this gift in their lap. Grade: B+

3. Houston Texans: Derek Stingley Jr., LSU


The Houston Texans pulled a surprise and grabbed LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. at No. 3. The chatter has been nonstop about 2019 being his best year. This is 2022, though, and what about his play in 2020 and 2021? Will he be the player he was in 2019 or did the Texans reach? “Supreme athletic when he’s healthy” is a worrisome comment. Grade: C

4. New York Jets: Sauce Gardner, Cincinnati


The Jets get a DB who doesn’t allow touchdowns. That’s a trait not many — if any — players in the Jets’ secondary have possessed since Darrelle Revis in his prime. Jamal Adams wasn’t around Gang Green long enough to earn that stamp. Three picks per year, including two pick-sixes in 2019. Grade: A

5. New York Giants: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon


The explosive Oregon Duck comes to the New York Giants. That makes five defensive players in a row at the top of the draft. Big Blue had to be thrilled with all the critical comments about Thibodeaux’s motor and mentality leading into the draft. A huge score at five. Grade: A

6. Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu, N.C. State

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Another player selected in-state, as the Lions did with Hutchinson. The Panthers take Ekwonu from N.C. State. He is strong on the run game but must improve in the passing game. Still, it feels like a win not rushing into a QB here because neither one is top-six quality. This does not preclude a move for a Baker Mayfield, Jimmy Garoppolo or another QB, either. As of this writing, the Panthers don’t pick again until Round 4. Grade: B+

7. New York Giants (from Chicago Bears): Evan Neal, Alabama

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The Giants didn’t pick up Daniel Jones’ fifth-year option but they did use their second first-round pick to grab Evan Neal from the Crimson Tide. He’s 6-7 1/2 and comes from an incredible college program. Look for Neal at right tackle and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas at left to give Jones his last best chance to succeed if the Giants stick with their former No. 1 pick at QB. Grade: B+

8. Atlanta Falcons: Drake London, USC

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Drake London can thank Calvin Ridley’s suspension for landing in Atlanta. A  team that once had Julio Jones and Ridley was in need of a wide receiver to go with Marcus Mariota. EDGE felt like a bigger need but London had 88 catches for 1,084 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2021 on a troubled team. The first USC WR to go in the first round since … Nelson Agholor. London did not play in more than 8 games in any of his seasons at USC. Grade: C+

9. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos): Charles Cross, Mississippi State

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The third tackle to go in the top nine is Charles Cross of Mississippi State. He’s 6-5 and 290 and played in a pass-happy offense for the Bulldogs. Without Russell Wilson, expect the Seahawks to run the ball more. This would seem to be contrary to everything Cross did in college with Mike Leach and the Air Raid offense. The Seahawks need a lot. This doesn’t feel like the player they needed. Grade: C+

10. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks): Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

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The New York Jets add a wide receiver—and they weren’t able to pry Deebo Samuel from San Francisco with this pick in a trade. They have Corey Davis and Elijah Moore at WR. They land the 6-0, 188-pound Wilson who was electric in 2021 with 70 catches and 12 touchdowns. Zach Wilson has no excuses for failing to improve in his second year with Gang Green. Grade: B

11. New Orleans Saints (from Washington): Chris Olave, Ohio State


Ohio State wideouts go back-to-back after the Buckeyes had not had a first-round WR since 2007 (Ted Ginn, Jr, Dolphins, 9; Anthony Gonzalez, Colts, 32). Dennis Allen is a defensive guru but he knows New Orleans needs someone to go with Michael Thomas at WR. He gets Thomas, who missed all of 2021 with an ankle, another Buckeye, Olave, who had 65 catches. Grade: B+

12. Detroit Lions (from Minnesota Vikings): Jameson Williams, Alabama

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Detroit moves up from 32 and takes a WR who left Ohio State for Alabama. Will Jared Goff throw the ball to the speedster? And what was the former Rams QB thinking when the Lions traded with their NFC North cohorts? A quarterback? Nah, a speedy wideout who had 79 catches for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns. Williams is recovering from a knee injury. The Lions hope it is a swift one. Grade: B

13. Philadelphia Eagles (from Houston Texans via Cleveland Browns): Jordan Davis, Georgia

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The Philadelphia Eagles looked to Georgia as another ‘Dawg gets picked in the first round. They went big and they got a physical specimen at 6-6, 340 pounds. Philly wanted him bad and moved up while peeling away a few picks to Houston. Grade: B-

14. Baltimore Ravens: Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

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The Ravens don’t mess around. They take the best available player and Kyle Hamilton was just that. Are you going to believe a 40-time dropped him to 14 or did they steal another jewel? Hamilton goes to a team that celebrates defensive and secondary players. Don’t be surprised when this turns out to be one of the best selections of the entire 2022 NFL draft. Grade: A+

15. Hoston Texans (from Philadelphia Eagles via Miami Dolphins): Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

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The Texans dropped back, got more picks, and grabbed a 323-pound force from Texas A&M. He will stay in the state he played college ball and fill a big space and void for a team that has so many of them. Grade: B

16. Washington (from New Orleans via Indy via Philly): Jahan Dotson, Penn State

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The Commanders get another wideout to complement Terry McLaurin. Would they have been better off picking higher and grabbing an Ohio State pass-catcher? He had 91 of his 183 catches in 2021. Dotson had 12 of his 25 touchdown receptions last season. A one-year wonder of the real deal. Grade: B-

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Zion Johnson, Boston College

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Talk about moving up in the world, Zion Johnson goes from Davidson — you know, the basketball school that produced Steph Curry — to Boston College to be the 17th pick in the first round. His assignment will be protecting Justin Herbert. The Bolts have to hope everyone whiffed on him coming out of high school and he belonged in the ACC more than a small North Carolina school. Grade: B-

18. Tennessee Titans (from Philadelphia via New Orleans): Treylon Burks, Arkansas

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It seems like the fastest way to be moved is to be a wide receiver demanding a big contract. The Titans send A.J. Brown to Philadelphia and get this pick from the Eagles, who gave the wideout a four-year, $100M contract with $57M guaranteed. The Titans then replace the big, physical receiver from an SEC school in Brown to grab Burks, a 6-foot-3, 225-pounder who had 66 catches, including 11 touchdowns as an Arkansas Razorback. The overall move from Brown to Burks is a loss, at least for now. Grade: C

19. New Orleans Saints (from Philadelphia Eagles): Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

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The Saints pick up a “big nasty” who will step into left tackle—where Terron Armstead exited for Miami—t0 protect Jameis Winston. Once again, they go offense because Dennis Allen understands what needs are and didn’t simply covet more defensive players because that is his forte. Have to like the mindset of the coach who steps in for Sean Payton. Grade: C

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

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The Steelers used to shy from Pitt quarterbacks (see Marino, Dan). But in 2022, they decided they think a Panther is their future, Kenny Pickett. He threw 42 touchdown passes against 7 picks and for 4,319 yards in his fifth season. However, that is more of an oddity than what went on in his first four seasons, going for 39 TDs and 25 picks. The Steelers have to hope Pickett wasn’t a one-year college wonder with Pitt. Grade: C-

21. Kansas City Chiefs (from New England Patriots): Trent McDuffie Washington

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So the Chiefs trade up and grab a DB with the initials TM. Will Trent McDuffie of Washington be better than what Tyrann Mathieu would have been, or could the Chiefs have used both in their defensive backfield? The latter seems a better response than the former. Grade: C+

22. Green Bay Packers (from Las Vegas Raiders): Quay Walker, Georgia

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Wonder if Aaron Rodgers approved of picking a linebacker over a wide receiver? Walker played at Georgia on that brilliant defense and brings all sorts of strength and athleticism to Green Bay. The Packers will eventually get another wide receiver or two or three but reaching here would not have made sense to anyone. Grade: B+ 

23. Buffalo Bills (from Baltimore Ravens via Arizona Cardinals): Kaiir Elam, Florida

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The Bills will eventually have added a strong player to a position that is a strength when Tra’Davious White returns from injury. Kaiir Elam comes out of the SEC as did White (LSU) and figures to add to a secondary and defense that simply is tough to solve. Grade: B+

24. Dallas Cowboys: Tyler Smith, Tulsa

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The Cowboys need to start figuring out their offensive line and they took a step here. Smith had a medical condition years ago but overcame it and was found to be fine by NFL doctors. So, Dallas goes for the Tulsa tackle and has to hope he can step in and fill in the gap left by La’el Collins’ exit— and age that is creeping up on the Cowboys’ overall O-line. Grade: C

25. Baltimore Ravens (from Buffalo Bills): Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

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The Ravens get the best center in the draft and a guy who has strength, speed, and is ferocious. A guy who can do so many things at his size and is going to be an asset to Baltimore, whether for running backs or Lamar Jackson. Nice job by John Harbaugh & Co. Grade: A+

26. New York Jets (from Tennessee Titans): Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State

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The Jets move into the first round for a third pick and get Jermaine Johnson II from Florida State. NFL Network was chatting him up as a Top 10 pick and Gang Green slides in at 26 and grabs him. He had 11.5 sacks in 2021 for the Seminoles. What caused him to drop? Will this prove to be a steal or a problem? The Jets have to hope he is a gem who other teams simply missed. Grade: B+

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Devin Lloyd, Utah

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The  Jaguars traded into the first round with in-state Sunshine Staters Tampa Bay and took Utah LB Devin Lloyd. The cost was the first pick in the second round on Friday and a couple of lower picks. Doug Pederson & Co. must love Lloyd, who can come off the edge and knows how to blitz. Put him together with Walker and the Jags are building something on defense, young and hungry.  Grade: B+

28. Green Bay Packers: Devonte Wyatt, Georgia


The Packers had two first-round picks and neither will be catching passes from Aaron Rodgers. One has to think Green Bay has some kind of plan, doesn’t it? This pick is another piece of the outstanding Georgia defense. Oh, and it just so happens that both players picked by the Packers played for the national champions in 2021. Grade: B-

29. New England Patriots (from Kansas City Chiefs via SF via Miami): Cole Strange, UT-Chattanooga

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The Patriots traded back and took Cole Strange of UT-Chattanooga, now the highest-drafted Moccasin, surpassing T.O. Are you seriously going to argue with what Bill Belichick does and what strategy he employs? Grade: B

30.. Kansas City Chiefs: George Karlaftis, Purdue

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The Chiefs stayed on the defensive side of the ball and went for the defensive lineman from Purdue, George Karlaftis. The power rusher from the edge will help Kansas City get stronger in the middle by keeping Chris Jones inside as much as possible. A former water polo star, Karlaftis should get plenty of opportunities to succeed swimmingly in Kansas City. Grade: B-

31. Cincinnati Bengals: Dax Hill, Michigan


The Bengals went for a defensive player from the Big Ten after the Chiefs took one. Hill has improved during his time at Michigan and needs to continue to grow in the pros. He goes from a school in Michigan to playing for a team in Ohio. Pretty sure the transition will be smooth. Grade: C+

32. Minnesota Vikings (from Detroit Lions via Los Angeles Rams): Lewis Cine, Georgia

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The big winner in the first round was the big loser, too. Kirby Smart has to be so proud of the way his defensive players were scooped Thursday. One Dawg defender after another heard their name called the final one was DB Lewis Cine. Another stellar spoke in the wheel of a historic defense. The Vikings make it so Georgia defenders were bookends in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft. Wow. Grade: B+

Story originally appeared on List Wire