The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone. 32 picks have been made and about 78 trades have been made to go along with those picks. There were some good aspects of the draft such as teams actually turning in their picks early and also some bad aspects such as the NFL doing ad reads at the podium before announcing the selections. But all in all, it was a successful and entertaining first round that will give us tons to debate about over the summer. I am going to kick off some of that debating by explaining my favorite, and not-so-favorite, picks from the opening round.
Jermaine Johnson to the Jets at pick 26
There are not 25 players better than Johnson in this draft class. That is a fact. Unless there is some sort of medical issue that no one other than the teams is aware of, it makes no sense why a player this talented would fall so far. But good on the Jets to scoop him up and stop his draft day slide (the non-gas mask kind) by making him their third selection in this round. Johnson could have gone to New York with either of its picks in the top 10 and it wouldn’t have been surprising. Getting that quality of player this late in the draft usually doesn’t happen so shoutout to the Jets for making the best pick in this year’s draft so far.
Evan Neal to the Giants at pick 7
Both New York teams killed it in the first round. Having multiple picks in the top 10 helps but it also could have just been an extra pick to mess up. The Giants made a very shrewd pick of their own when they selected Neal with their second pick of the day. They deserve praise for how they played their two picks. Selecting Ahmad Gardner with the fifth pick and then still getting a great tackle like Neal with the seventh. Neal could have been the top tackle on the Giants’ board, which would make this even more of a great move by them. It was also a smart idea for the Giants to focus on the trenches instead of getting enamored with some other position.
Kenyon Green to the Texans at pick 15
When this pick first came in, I was a bit surprised. I expected Green to go in the first round but not this high. I also thought Zion Johnson would be the first interior lineman drafted. But the more I thought about this selection the more I loved it for the Texans. They have drafted linemen before with the intent of playing them in different spots on the line and it hasn’t worked out so they made sure they avoided that with this pick. Green played all over the line in college and can assuredly do the same thing in the pros. He can play guard or right tackle right away and if Houston needs him to eventually transition out to left tackle he is capable of pulling that off. Green’s positional versatility among the front five will make him a very valuable asset as the Texans look to rebuild and add more pieces.
Jordan Davis to the Eagles at pick 13
I correctly picked the selections of four teams in my mock draft (with just one in the correct draft spot) and Davis to Philly was one of them. Although I didn’t predict the trade up from 15 to 13 I am still counting it as a win in my book. The Eagles trading up to get Davis makes this an even better pick because it showed that they really wanted him and were willing to be aggressive to ensure they ended up with him. They must have gotten word that Baltimore was going to select him with the 14th pick, so they jumped up two spots over them and ended up with the guy they wanted. Davis is a supreme athlete and will be an incredible player in Philly. The organization has already demonstrated its commitment to him so he should feel very happy about where he ended up.
Tyler Smith to the Cowboys at pick 24
I don’t really hate any of the picks made in the first round but I do question some of the thinking of a couple of teams. Dallas obviously wanted to address the offensive line in the draft but probably should have pivoted when most of the highly graded linemen were off the board. The Cowboys do have other needs on the roster and could have addressed those needs by selecting Jermaine Johnson, Daxton Hill, or Arnold Ebiketie, all of which were considered better prospects than Smith. Dallas could have even stayed on the offensive line and gone with Tyler Linderbaum who is almost guaranteed to be a fantastic center in the league. Smith could end up being a good selection for the Cowboys but I just wonder if they could have gotten better value by addressing a different position.
Devin Lloyd to the Jaguars at pick 27
I don’t question Lloyd’s qualifications for being a first-round pick, I just question why Jacksonville selected him. For one, they traded up to get him. If you are a team that has drafted first overall in back-to-back years you probably shouldn’t be giving up two extra picks in order to move up six spots in the draft. Secondly, if you do move up in the order, drafting a linebacker is not the best use of that capital. Linebackers can be very integral pieces of a defense but they are not more important than offensive line, cornerback, or wide receiver, which are all positions of need for the Jaguars. Even if Lloyd is amazing as a rookie he still won’t provide as much value as a player at one of those other positions. I don’t have anything wrong with the player, I just think the team needed to focus on different positions, especially if they were going to give up other picks in the process.
Quay Walker to the Packers at pick 22
By now you may have noticed that I really only have issues with the later picks in the draft and that is because I largely like most of the selections that were made. But Green Bay’s first selection of the night was the biggest head-scratcher to me. I really like the second pick the Packers made when they took Devonte Wyatt but drafting his teammate at 22 was a questionable decision. You might think I am saying that because Green Bay once again did not draft a wide receiver but that is not true. There was a crazy run on receivers and there wasn’t one on the board for the Packers that made sense at that spot. I dislike this pick for two reasons. The first is that I don’t think linebacker was a huge need for them. They just resigned All-Pro DeVondre Campbell and don’t need to immediately find someone to play next to him. The second reason is that I don’t think Walker was the best linebacker on the board. Lloyd would have been a better selection and even Walker’s college teammate Nakobe Dean was considered a better prospect. Overall, I don’t completely hate this selection but I do think the Packers could have done better.