David Ojabo
David Ojabo

NFL Draft Winners and Losers: Jets fly high, Cards fall


The 2022 NFL Draft is in the books after a wild three days in Las Vegas, and now it is time to look at who excelled and who did not in the league’s annual talent contest.

Thursday’s first round set the tone with a number of major trades as teams made bold moves in a bid to improve their rosters. Things continued in that vein right through to the conclusion on Saturday evening.

With only one quarterback taken in Round 1- and not until pick 20 at that - the 2022 Draft had plenty of surprises for a national TV audience in the United States.

Without further ado, let’s look at our Winners and Losers.

Winners

Our take is based on the overall impact of a draft class on a team in the context of where they were picking and the decisions they made during the Draft

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles came into the Draft in position to really upgrade their roster, and boy did they do just that. Philly jumped up a couple of spots in Round 1 to grab generational DT Jordan Davis, and followed up by trading their second first-rounder for Tennessee’s Pro Bowl WR A.J. Brown. Then came the starting center of the future in Cam Jurgens, before the best pick of all - Georgia LB Nakobe Dean with pick number 83. Insane value to get the best player on the best defense in college football at that spot. Worries about a shoulder injury reportedly saw Dean fall from his first-round projection, but the Eagles will not worry about that - this is likely to be incredible value. Oh, and thanks to that pre-draft trade with New Orleans, the Eagles will also have two first-round picks in 2023. Perfect if Jalen Hurts is not the real deal and they are again back in the market for a starting QB. For now Philly is in position to realistically challenge Dallas in the NFC East in 2022.

Nakobe Dean
Nakobe Dean

New York Jets

These New York Jets are not the Jets of old - they’re actually making smart moves. What they did in Round 1 last Thursday was spectacular to start off proceedings. Grabbing CB Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner and a bona fide WR1 in Garrett Wilson in the top 10 were two excellent choices. But the move to jump back into Round 1 to grab the falling Florida State DE Jermaine Johnson was genius. Three potentially elite talents on Day 1 alone. New York followed up on Friday by taking the draft’s best RB in Breece Hall from Iowa State - another game changer. TE Jeremy Ruckert - while not at a position of need - was another excellent player to fall to the Jets.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens did what the Ravens always do. Perhaps the smartest team of all when it comes the draft, Baltimore aced it yet again. First they picked up a potentially generational talent in Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, and then really went to work. First Baltimore agreed to trade WR Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown to Arizona for a first-round pick - talk about fleecing the opposition for a player who is nowhere near WR1 territory. What did the Ravens do with that first-round pick? Only select potentially the best player in the entire draft in the shape of Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum. Not content with that, the Ravens also got a steal in Round 2 in the shape of Michigan LB David Ojabo. Baltimore can afford to let Ojabo - projected as a Round 1 talent before tearing his Achilles during his Pro Day - heal before getting the best out of another top prospect.

Kansas City Chiefs

The clamour for the Chiefs to go WR with their two first-round picks was real after the decision to trade the sensational Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins. But the Chiefs didn’t reach and instead used those picks to fill other real areas of need. CB Trent McDuffie and DE George Karlaftis (how on earth did he fall to 30?) gave KC a terrific start to its draft weekend. When the WR pick did come, it was one with huge value - Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore at 54 overall. Great value for a player who will become an absolute star catching passes from Patrick Mahomes. An excellent return for the Chiefs as they gear up to fight off the challengers in a loaded AFC West in 2022.

Kansas City Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are in full-scale rebuild mode after trading Matt Ryan, but 2022 will be spent treading water in salary cap hell. Atlanta though didn’t waste the opportunity to start restocking its roster through the draft. WR was an area of significant need and taking USC freak Drake London at 8 was a good start, and things would only get better. Round 2 brought Penn State OLB Arnold Ebiketie (seen by many as a first-round talent) and he has the potential to be a star. Anybody who thought at this stage that the Falcons would not be able to take a QB of the future was wrong - when Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder was still on the board it was time to pounce with pick 74. Probably the most pro-ready of the 2022 class, Ridder can sit and learn for a little while behind veteran Marcus Mariota. He represents a terrific value gamble on finding a future franchise leader.

Losers

New England Patriots

We know Bill Belichick is a genius, we see it most Sundays. But why does he keep trying to prove it during the draft by making decisions that surprise everybody. Just watch the video of the Rams brass laughing after Big Bill and the Pats took OG Cole Strange from Chattanooga. Strange was a strange selection in Round 1, graded by many experts as a third-round talent at best. He may well turn out to be a fine player, but right now it looks like a horrible reach. New England made a similar move in Round 2 by reaching again for Baylor WR Tyquan Thornton. With better pass catchers still on the board (Skyy Moore for one) the Pats actually traded up to get Thornton. Belichick’s record in drafting wide receivers is not a great one, and the odds are this one might follow a similar path. On the plus side New England did take a falling QB in the shape of Bailey Zappe, and that could turn out to be a smart move.

Arizona Cardinals

We said it before the draft and we’ll say it again - Arizona just needs to stay put and make the steak and potatoes pick now and again. But no, instead of drafting either an offensive lineman or a pass rusher, the Cardinals triggered a crazy trade - giving up their first-round pick for Baltimore WR Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown. The value was shocking, and the Ravens win yet again. There was another head scratcher in Round 2, with the decision to take Colorado State TE Trey McBride. Good prospect though McBride is, why take ANOTHER TE when you’ve just re-signed Zach Ertz and already have Maxx Williams?

Chicago Bears

The new Bears front office might have had the most underwhelming offseason in NFL history. The roster has unquestionably gotten worse with the departures of OLB Khalil Mack (trade to the Chargers) and WR Allen Robinson (free agency to the Rams). Chicago followed up those moves with an incredibly average draft, notable for the lack of any real moves to support sophomore QB Justin Fields. If the Bears are really bought into Fields, wouldn’t they build around him? Guess they really aren’t.

Washington Commanders

The Commanders didn’t have an awful three days, but it could have been so, so much better. It all started when they traded down to reach for Penn State WR Jahan Dotson in Round 1 instead of taking potentially elite pass catchers in the shape of Chris Olave or Jameson Williams. Taking Alabama RB Brian Robinson at 98 did not fulfil a glaring need, so we are out on that one. The one real ray of hope for this class came at pick 144 with the selection of North Carolina QB Sam Howell. A few months ago Howell was being talked about as a first-round pick, but the NFL really did not like this class of QBs. Taking him where the Commanders did though? Very little downside.


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