The 2022 NFL draft has concluded and most fan bases have a renewed sense of optimism surrounding their teams. Every team has added high-potential youngsters. Here I’ll detail six winners of the draft, having not read any other similar articles. So this will just be my gut feeling from checking out every team’s draft haul.
Before we do that, let’s start with the Panthers.
I’ve been pounding the table for the Panthers to draft Malik Willis, who ultimately landed with the Tennessee Titans in the third round. To be fair, that’s more likely where his actual value should have brought him. In the end, the Panthers drafted former N.C. State tackle Ikem Ekwonu with the No. 6 overall pick. The Texans and Jets both selecting cornerbacks increased the potential that Carolina may have its pick of the litter in terms of tackles and that’s what happened. Who could have predicted that Ekwonu would still be on the board? Ideally he’ll turn into the team’s franchise left tackle and pair with Taylor Moton for years to come. It’s a great, solid pick.
The Panthers still have not figured out their quarterback situation but they did jump up in the third round to grab Ole Miss’s Matt Corral at a good value. Ian Rapoport reported that alcohol issues and “unreliable behavior” kept teams from investing in Corral earlier in the draft.
It seemed like Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin had a great relationship with Corral and Kiffin thinks quite highly of him, so I’m sure Corral has a lot of folks in his corner. At this point we’re just going to have to wait see how he turns out. The talent is clearly there but it’s hard to predict how a 23-year-old will react to professional football as he grows into an adult. I hope the Panthers can surround him with good mentors and good people in the organization. I definitely wish Matt the best of luck and hope he settles in well.
As well, having a teammate like Sam Darnold to look up to seems like a good situation from all I can tell. Darnold is well-liked by his teammates and maybe that will be positive for Corral.
From our NFL Draft coverage: The #Panthers traded back into the third round and took #OleMiss QB Matt Corral. They viewed his film as the best of all the QBs. But there was a lot more to sort through. pic.twitter.com/GfJdA3z3Zg— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 30, 2022
6 winners from the draft (in no order)
The lions finished last season strong under head coach Dan Campbell and had already taken a potential franchise left tackle in Penei Sewell. This time around they grabbed a stud defensive end in former Michigan player Aidan Hutchinson and then took elite speed receiver Jameson Williams from Alabama, who tore his ACL in the national title game in January. The Lions now have a pair of very good offensive tackles, a star tight end, and add the best YAC receiver in the entire draft. Detroit’s second round pick, defensive end Josh Paschal, was a three-time captain at Kentucky.
Georgia defensive end Trayvon Walker and Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd in the first round is no joke. Jacksonville once again continues building up a young defense after it was torn down over the past few years. Now the Lions have Walker, Lloyd, defensive tackle Dawuane Smoot, defensive ends Josh Allen and Arden Key, former Atlanta Falcons linebacker Foyesade Oluokun and former first round pick K’Lavon Chaisson. There’s a lot of dudes on that defense, which had some really good games last season including a 9-3 home win over the Bills. Smoot was a beast and the entire defensive line wreaked havoc on Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen in that game. The NFL level talent is definitely there.
New York Giants
Giants fans were jumping for joy after their first round netted former Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and former Alabama right tackle Evan Neal, who should start on day one. Fans seemed to be split on the team’s second round pick, another undersized receiver just like Kadarius Toney last season, this time Kentucky’s Wan’dale Robinson. The Giants then made eight more picks, grabbing a pair of guards, two inside linebackers, a defensive tackle, a corner (LSU’s Cordale Flott), a safety and a tight end.
New York Jets
Given that the Jets made three first round selections, one would assume they did not screw it up. And they did not. Gang Green selected the much-hyped Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner with the No. 4 pick, Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson with the No. 10 pick and then Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson with the No. 26 pick. And just for good measure, they took the best running back in the draft when they pounced on Iowa State’s Breece Hall in the second round.
The Jets have to be getting better after all these seemingly smart drafts over the past few years.
Philly trading for A.J. Brown and getting Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis is big time. Davis is going to be a menace clogging up the entire interior line. He’s just a massive dude with bull-rushing capability. Philly then took arguably the best linebacker in the draft in Georgia’s Nakobe Dean, who slid a bit because he opted not to have pectoral surgery. So, there could be some complications there, but if it pays off, oh boy, the Eagles will be in a good spot.
Not everyone is on board with the Titans decision to get rid of A.J. Brown, including NFL Network’s James Jones, who sounded off on the move. It was a questionable decision and a gamble, but it feels like Treylon Burks is going to be a legit threat in the NFL just like Brown was. Burks’ performance against Alabama was dominant and his entire season in the SEC last year was consistent No. 1 receiver tape.
Tennessee then grabbed Auburn cornerback Roger McCreary, who should compete for a starting role, and Ohio State big man Nicholas Petit-Frere, who could push 2021 second-round pick Dillon Radunz for the starting right tackle spot. Tennessee also selected Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, a superb landing spot for him. He’ll get to relax as a backup under Ryan Tannehill and presumably take over in a few years.