The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft was insane. In a draft that wasn’t quarterback-forward, we had some hard reaches and some fantastic scoops that kept the draft clipping at breakneck speed. But most of all, we had an NFL Draft that was exciting. No amount of NFL mock drafts could have predicted the madness that was Thursday night in Las Vegas.
As we all know, the draft can be a monotonous exercise in waiting. Over the years, we’ve had drafts where a player like Aaron Rodgers waiting to hear their name called is the big story. Inaction rules the NFL Draft, but not in 2022. This draft was WILD.
But, with all that fun and excitement, there were certainly some missteps and mistakes made by some teams. So let’s take a look at the winners and losers of the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Winners and Losers in the First Round of the 2022 NFL Draft
Winner: The Detroit Lions
I’m a sucker for a first-round pick like Aidan Hutchinson. His father played for Michigan, Aidan played for Michigan and now he gets to play in Michigan for the foreseeable future and become the new face of the Detroit Lions franchise. Are the Lions immediately a Super Bowl contender? No, they are not. But the Lions are doing something they haven’t done in a while: make themselves fun.
Not only did they pick up Hutchinson at No. 2, but they also traded up to snag Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams at No. 12. While the Lions still have questions at quarterback, their receiver core was on full display last season and they just added another offensive weapon.
The Detroit Lions are about to get very interesting and very exciting.
Loser: The Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons announced to the world that they are going to watch the world burn. With the eighth-overall pick, the Falcons selected Drake London, the wide receiver out of USC, and the draft completely flipped on its head.
London is a decent wideout, but he’s not “first off the board” good. In fact, you could argue that Ohio State products Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave who were drafted back-to-back at No. 10 and No. 11, are far better. Not to mention the fact that at the time the picks were made, the Falcons’ signal-caller is Marcus Mariota, who spent last season running the wildcat offense for the Las Vegas Raiders.
This was a mistake and one the Falcons need to fix in the later rounds. Woof.
Winner: The New York Jets
WHAT. A. DRAFT. FOR. NEW. YORK.
The Jets found their guy at every pick in the first round. Sauce Gardner at No. 4 is the perfect answer to help stop Josh Allen and the Bills from walking away with the AFC East. Garrett Wilson at No. 10 is another stellar pick. With pundits and analysts expecting the Jets to be a trade option for the 49ers and Deebo Samuel, the Jets gave Zach Wilson a new weapon he can grow with as the Jets get younger and most importantly, cheaper.
But maybe the cherry on top is the Jets scooping up Jermaine Johnson II from Florida State at No. 26, which is a fantastic value for the Seminole edge rusher.
The Jets crushed the first round.
Loser: The New England Patriots
This has nothing to do with their pick of Cole Strange, the offensive lineman out of Chattanooga, but more about how Bill Belichick’s normal plan of attack to trade down and acquire more picks seemingly backfired.
New England wanted a guard to replace Shaq Mason and they had some offensive line options. But after Houston snagged Kenyon Green from Texas A&M and the Chargers took Zion Johnson from Boston College, the Patriots traded down from No. 21 to No. 29 to take Strange. To make the situation even more…strange is that most teams had Strange going in the third round or later. The Patriots got sniped and will look to make up for it with the picks they received from Kansas City in the later rounds.
What could be better than winning a national championship over Alabama? Well, okay, maybe there’s nothing better than that. But a pretty good follow-up is breaking the record for most defensive players from one school drafted in the first round.
Travon Walker went first overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars and was then followed by four of his Bulldog teammates. Jordan Davis went to the Eagles at No. 13, Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt both will suit up for the Green Bay Packers, and Lewis Cine went to the Vikings with the final pick of the first round.
Georgia’s defensive prowess was on display all season in 2021, and the 2022 NFL Draft was no different. Go Dawgs.
Loser: Lamar Jackson
Yikes. While other quarterbacks in the AFC were getting showered with new offensive weapons, Lamar Jackson was losing his No. 1 wide receiver. The Baltimore Ravens sent Marquise Brown and the No. 100 pick to the Cardinals in exchange for the No. 23 pick, which the Ravens flipped to the Bills for the No. 25 pick and the No. 130 pick.
If you’re confused by the Hollywood Brown trade, that’s okay, because so was Lamar Jackson.
The Ravens ended the first round with Tyler Linderbaum, the best center in the draft, and Notre Dame Safety Kyle Hamilton. Not great.
Winner: The New York Giants
MetLife’s residents really crushed this draft, as we already saw with the Jets’ first round. But the Giants also smashed their first round by being in the right place at the right time during all of the madness.
The Giants were there to catch Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux at No. 5, which is a fantastic pick for them, knowing that the Panthers were going to take an offensive tackle with Ikem Ekwonu from NC State and Alabama’s Evan Neal still on the board. This allowed the Giants to easily take Thibodeaux and then snag whoever would fall to them at No. 7. So when the Giants announced Evan Neal as their pick, they had already locked up a spot on this list. Fantastic draft from New York on all sides.
Winners: AJ Brown and the Philadelphia Eagles, The Pittsburgh Steelers.
Losers: Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, Any Quarterback Not Named Kenny Pickett (specifically Matt Corral and Malik Willis), Tennessee Titans and Treylon Burks.