Eagles, Saints Trades Highlight Round 1
NFL Draft - Each Sunday during the regular season, the FO staff shares thoughts with each other about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can). On Monday, we compile a digest of those thoughts and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.
We are doing special editions of Audibles this week covering the first two days of the draft, but the same rules apply. While these thoughts are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games (or picks) each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play, or every draft pick. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Lions fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors solely to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.
As always, Football Outsiders' 2022 NFL draft coverage is presented by Underdog Fantasy!
The Calm Before the Storm
Carl Yedor: The draft doesn't start until 8 ET, but I think what I'm most curious about tonight (other than whatever chaos the Seahawks are going to unleash, as is their nature) is the positional distribution of the first-rounders. This class is not regarded as having nearly as much top-end talent as last year's, especially at quarterback, so I wonder how many quarterbacks will still end up getting pushed up the board because of their position. Carolina and Seattle seem like good sources of entertainment this evening given their likelihood of making trades for needed additional picks and, um, misunderstandings of how good their teams actually are. Other than that, it seems like we will be seeing a fair number of offensive tackles, defensive linemen, receivers, and corners tonight.
Scott Spratt: Ian Rapoport is reporting that the Eagles are another potential chaos agent, Carl, looking maybe to trade up into the top 10. That seems odd to me with how much better scouts see the 2023 quarterback class than this one. But since the Eagles have two first-round picks next year too, I guess they can do whatever they want.
Bryan Knowles: Without the quarterbacks to push trades through, it will be interesting to see what serves as the catalyst for big moves tonight. Lot of teams need a top wideout, but the draft's also particularly deep there, so I wonder if we're going to end up seeing a lot of standing around, posturing, and not much actual movement.
Every team: "We want to trade down, but also want to add the best player available, while ensuring it is someone who will help our team immediately…"
Aaron Schatz: I understand that Travon Walker was No. 1 in our SackSEER projections but there was less than one sack in five years separating him from Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Given all the other pressure stats from college ... I wouldn't take him first. It's a big risk.
JP Acosta: I don't know if it's because my brain has slowly begun the coping process or not, but if it is Travon Walker I understand why for Jacksonville. New Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell comes from Tampa Bay, where they emphasized stopping the run and manufacturing pressure with blitzes using a five-man front. That's what Walker is best at. His development will be CRUCIAL, but I can see the vision.
Robert Weintraub: Shams Charadia, NBA reporter, is reporting he hears the pick is Walker. Schefter, et al., are forbidden, but I guess insiders from other leagues are cool.
Bryan Knowles: I have to wonder if the league office spends all year deciding just how they can make the opening of the draft as awkward as possible, or if it just comes naturally to them.
Cale Clinton: Ice Cube peaking this microphone is absolutely killing me. I get the atmosphere they're trying to set up with the massive crowds and big set pieces next to the Bellagio fountain, but man do I miss when the draft was at Radio City. Imagine this draft in New York with the Jets and the Giants claiming prime real estate in the top 10.
Vincent Verhei: Whatever happens over the next three days, it's going to be hard to top "CUBE! COME ON UP HERE BABY!" as quote of the draft.
Aaron Schatz: With the first pick in the 2022 draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars do not select Derek Carr's haircut.
JP Acosta: Derek Carr looks like the henchman who gets beat up in the first half of the James Bond movie
Rivers McCown: Derek Carr's gonna sell me an NFT.
Cale Clinton: Honestly? I'm a fan of the jacket, at least. Don't understand a grown man who rocks a mohawk, but the suit can stay.
JP Acosta: It's a nice jacket, but he looks like a Criss Angel ripoff.
Bryan Knowles: In that case, JP, maybe they're just warming up the crowd—Criss Angel will open the second day of the draft, per reports.
Picks 1 to 8
JP Acosta: Oh dear Lord. The Jags pick is in.
Scott Spratt: Did Kenny Pickett drop the coaster that stuck to his drink and fell? Those small hands are already causing problems.
JP Acosta: I nailed that! Travon Walker is fun, but this is a big swing and a bet on the Jaguars defensive line coach Brentson Buckner.
Robert Weintraub: Shams nails it! Give him Schefter's salary too! I feel bad for Walker if he isn't good immediately. Gonna be under a very bright spotlight.
Cale Clinton: Now I'm really excited for Detroit, who gets their pick of Kayvon Thibodeaux and Aidan Hutchinson. Dan Campbell is getting his kneecap-biter.
Bryan Knowles: Hutchinson would have been my choice if I wanted an edge rusher first overall (though I think I would have stuck with one of the tackles, personally). He's going to be a beast for Campbell and the Lions.
Cale Clinton: I worry that I have bought into the "T-Rex arms" meme with Hutchinson, which makes me nervous about his ceiling in the NFL. But from what I have watched, he's got a great package of pass-rush moves, does the little things right, and has a high motor even on off plays. The Michigan-to-Detroit Hometown Hero storyline also makes this a great pick.
Robert Weintraub: You know who had T-Rex arms and turned out pretty good? T-Rex! Dominated the planet for millions of years, until that pesky Bill Belichick figured out the "meteor scheme" thing...
Vincent Verhei: Maybe Hutchinson is ready to bang a gong.
Bryan Knowles: First time we have had defensive linemen go back-to-back with the first two picks since Lee Roy Selmon and Steve Niehaus in 1976. This is a different class.
Vincent Verhei: It's 8:27 p.m. Eastern and we have already had three picks announced. We're off to a flying start.
JP Acosta: I LOVE the Derek Stingley pick for Houston. Lovie Smith said during the draft process how important cornerback was for them, and Stingley is so smooth and can take away an entire side of the field. Great pick.
Rivers McCown: It's a fine pick. Big hole for this team since Johnathan Joseph got old. He has his risks and I can understand valuing Sauce more for stability, but the ceiling is highest here to me.
Carl Yedor: All defense through the first four picks, which based on the reporting from the beginning of draft season (i.e., before Cam Robinson received the franchise tag) seemed fairly unlikely to start off. Teams in need of offensive line help have to be happy with how this is going thus far with Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu, and Charles Cross all still available.
JP Acosta: Sauce, Bryce Hall, and D.J. Reed is an interesting cornerback trio. Robert Saleh has his type at corner.
Cale Clinton: The Jets could have gone with a tackle given the Mekhi Becton situation, but this is the right move. Immediate starter, elite length, and great acceleration in coverage. Thank goodness they have re-vamped that barren cornerback room. Saleh is going to love him.
Also, his name is freakin' SAUCE Gardner. First-team All-Name in this draft.
Scott Spratt: I think it helped the Jets that George Fant played well at left tackle last season. He blew just 2.9% of his pass blocks per Sports Info Solutions.
Aaron Schatz: Giants needed offensive line and they will definitely get offensive line, either with Pick 5 or Pick 7.
Bryan Knowles: It won't be 5, though! We have our third edge rusher in the first five picks in Kayvon Thibodeaux. Five straight defenders. When will it end?
Scott Spratt: It should end with the Panthers, right Bryan? They need a left tackle, and they are all available.
Vincent Verhei: And one of them went to N.C. State!
Rivers McCown: Makes plenty of sense to draft Thibodeaux and get either Neal or Ekwonu at 7.
Vincent Verhei: The Giants making a sensible selection at a high-value position? Dave Gettleman IS gone!
And I love the sequin trim on Thibodeaux's tuxedo.
Cale Clinton: I lowkey think Thibodeaux could be the best of these edge rushers. Great build, bend like crazy, his technical flaws with his finishing skills seem fixable. I never got the character concerns, either. If you're worried about Thibodeaux's love for football, Wink Martindale can help him out with that.
Rivers McCown: I would have preferred Thibodeaux at 3, that's for sure. But obviously with the Character Questions he wasn't going to be a fit for the Manger Babies (™ Mike Tanier)
JP Acosta: I'm with Cale. Thibodeaux is the best edge in this class. He does everything Hutchinson does vs. the pass, and getting better vs. the run. The effort questions are very overblown, and he and Wink Martindale are perfect for each other.
Carl Yedor: Scott, I think a tackle is the pick if Carolina stays, but they really need picks, meaning they may not make this pick here.
JP Acosta: Imagine how funny it would be if they draft Kenny Pickett.
Scott Spratt: What team is trading up for a tackle when all of them are still available?
Carl Yedor: Probably none, but they could have their eyes on someone at another position.
JP Acosta: Maybe New Orleans, I heard they love Charles Cross.
Bryan Knowles: With just one pick in the first 136 selections, Carolina desperately needed more picks. But, unable to find a partner, sitting in place and taking Ickey Ekwonu was probably making the best out of a middling situation. It doesn't really matter who they trot out at quarterback if pass-rushers are going to continue using the line as a turnstile.
Though now you have to wonder—are they really going with Sam Darnold? I mean, really? Baker and Jimmy on lines one and two…
JP Acosta: Regardless of what they do at quarterback that offensive line was the worst in football. Before they bring in a quarterback they needed to fix that offensive line.
Robert Weintraub: Ikey is named for Ickey Woods, so of course I love him. And he turned down Harvard and Yale to go to N.C. State, which shows solid anti-elite leanings...
Cale Clinton: This run couldn't have worked out better for the Giants. Could they have used a cornerback like Sauce or Stingley? Sure. But landing Thibodeaux and getting your second pick at offensive tackle is about as good as you can ask for.
JP Acosta: The Giants have won the draft early. Love this for them, the game is won up front!
Cale Clinton: That sounds like it would have been Gettleman's game plan in this draft. Wonder what he thinks of this…
Aaron Schatz: I thought the Jaguars should have considered Evan Neal at No. 1. Neal and Thibodeaux is quite a haul for value.
Carl Yedor: Underrated subplot of the Giants bringing in Alabama's Evan Neal and Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux: Thibodeaux famously (infamously?) made a comment about why he didn't want to go to Alabama when he was being recruited in part because of the quality of an Alabama education. Well, guess who might match up against Thibodeaux every day in practice now? A former Crimson Tide star.
Aaron Schatz: Drake London as the first wide receiver off the board? Playmaker Score does not like.
Tom Gower: I don't know what Atlanta's team-building philosophy is, spending consecutive top-10 picks on pass-catchers.
Bryan Knowles: London is a heck of a divisive prospect. He's kind of a one-speed guy and the next time he runs away from coverage will be the first, but he's got a highlight reel stuffed full of him climbing the ladder over everyone and anyone. He's not my type of receiver, I think, but I get the idea. The idea being the Falcons are joining the NBA with London and Pitts, right?
Robert Weintraub: London is a souped-up Auden Tate.
JP Acosta: Drake London was my WR1, and the Falcons are going to be bad regardless of who they picked, so I understand the pick. None of the defenders on the board made sense here either.
Picks 9 to 16
Vincent Verhei: Seattle is in a tough spot here at nine. There has already been a run at tackle, edge, and corner, their top three non-quarterback needs. Gotta think they're looking to trade down. If they can't … Trent McDuffie maybe?
JP Acosta: Seattle could go Charles Cross or Jermaine Johnson, I could see that. Unless they love the quarterbacks I think that's the direction they should go.
JP Acosta: Charles Cross might be the best pass-protector in the draft. Duane Brown is still a free agent, now the Seahawks have their left tackle.
Carl Yedor: Looks like the chaos the Seahawks bestowed upon the league was just being normal for once. Without having watched Cross closely, I am a little surprised from a macro perspective that an offensive lineman from a Mike Leach offense would appeal to Carroll's run-heavy desires, but Cross was commonly mocked as one of the top three tackles. The last time the Seahawks drafted a tackle this highly was Russell Okung in 2010 (No. 6 overall). Then again, that was also the last time Seattle picked this highly as well. For all the talk about the team's belief in Drew Lock, Seattle's offseason maneuvering suggests that quarterback will remain an open question moving forward, hopefully allowing someone to seize the role at some point. Maybe that's next year's class, maybe it's a trade. I'm old enough to remember them trading for Charlie Whitehurst and gushing about his potential.
Vincent Verhei: And it is Cross. That's a very good pick for their position. That said, they had Russell Wilson for a decade and never drafted a first-round tackle, then add one after he's gone. And that's downright infuriating.
JP Acosta: Jon Schneider giving Russell Wilson a big middle finger as they made the call.
Cale Clinton: Seattle fans have come a long way since Russ' trade requests were placated by trading a fifth-rounder for Gabe Jackson.
Cross seems like the most fundamentally sound of the top three tackles. Not a specimen like Ekwonu, not as versatile as Neal, but a very strong pass-blocker and dominant in the run game, albeit a bit raw.
Bryan Knowles: The Jets do in fact use the 10th pick to get themselves a receiver, as was highly rumored—Garrett Wilson. I like the pick, and I especially like the fact that the Jets didn't, say, trade that pick to someone for some reason.
JP Acosta: I think this is an interesting pick. Wilson is really explosive with the ball in his hands and will be ready for Week 1 before a guy like Jameson Williams. They have to figure out if Zach Wilson is the guy.
Cale Clinton: Elite body control, and his change-of-direction leaves corners in the dust. Love this addition for the Jets. New York is four-for-four in this draft, in my opinion.
Bryan Knowles: Ten picks in, and there have been no crazy reaches or board-shuffling trades. Someone get up there and draft Desmond Ridder or something!
Vincent Verhei: SAINTS TRADED UP. BRACE FOR CHAOS.
Bryan Knowles: … did the Saints just trade up for Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett? No way, right? Saints give up the 16th pick, a third-rounder, and a fourth-rounder for No. 11 which is … a lot.
JP Acosta: My gut says this is Chris Olave here.
Carl Yedor: Good call on the Saints being our trade-up team, JP.
Scott Spratt: Washington was the team between the Saints and their original pick that might take a quarterback. Since they were willing to trade, does that mean the Saints want a different position?
Bryan Knowles: And good call on this being Olave, too, JP.
Tom Gower: Oh, good, it's not like a team that's already over next year's cap couldn't use a bunch of mid-round picks to fill out their roster cheaply while they try to compete their way through cap crunch.
JP Acosta: FREAKING NAILED IT IM ON A HEATER BOYS!
Cale Clinton: JP's got his finger on the pulse of this draft!
Vincent Verhei: We'll have to see the details, but my gut reaction is that this deal is a nightmare for the Saints. They better not have paid much to move up.
Scott Spratt: I agree, Vince. This class is loaded with receivers.
Vincent Verhei: Per Field Yates, the Saints gave up 16, 98, and 120 for the 11th pick, which they used for Olave. That's … hmm. Less than I feared, I guess, but I still would not have made that deal.
Robert Weintraub: Sorry, Tony Gonzalez, no one recognizes Austin Ekeler without his helmet...
Also, putting the hotly anticipated KC-LAC game on Amazon in Week 2 is going to feel good in the moment but will stink when they don't play again until December...
Bryan Knowles: And now we have another trade, with the Lions coming back up and swapping with Minnesota! No. 12 and No. 46 for No. 32, No. 34, and No. 66. You would think that this would be Willis or Pickett, but…
JP Acosta: I would think this is for Willis, but Kyle Hamilton would be perfect here.
Cale Clinton: And the trade is for Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams! Back-to-back wide receiver splashes, and I love this one for Detroit. The ACL injury is going to impact his availability this year, but the Lions have someone who could be an elite vertical threat. Without the injury, he was my favorite receiver in this draft. Love him alongside Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Wilson, Olave, and now Ohio State transfer Williams are off the board in three straight picks. I wonder if there are any pictures of that wide receiver room a la the Alabama quarterback room with Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts, and Mac Jones.
JP Acosta: That's a LOT for a wide receiver who won't play for like half a season, but he's fun and fits a need.
Bryan Knowles: What was I saying about this draft being boring? The Eagles have traded with the Texans and are now in the No. 13 slot, and I no longer have any idea what's going on. I don't see who's left on the board you go up to get, especially when all you're jumping is Baltimore. No. 15, 124, 162, and 166 to move up two slots.
JP Acosta: The Eagles gotta be trading up for Kyle Hamilton or Jordan Davis, right?
Carl Yedor: And that is an aggressive trade-up. Operating on the simple principle of Jameson Williams being able to get open consistently against Georgia's defense, he's probably a pretty good player! That said, they're not one player away. Seems like they'll be in the quarterback market at the top of the draft next year barring an unforeseen Goff renaissance.
Tom Gower: Man, I don't get that Detroit trade up. I see it why they'd love Williams. I see their depth chart isn't good. But I don't understand why they'd give up a couple bites at the apple for long-term contributors, even if it maybe came at a slight discount relative to what it might normally cost. … Now that the Eagles have traded up, my guess was they were getting ahead of Baltimore for Jordan Davis. We'll see if that's accurate.
JP Acosta: Jordan Davis' pro comparison is the Colossal Titan from Attack on Titan. Love this.
Cale Clinton: I comp'd Davis to King Dedede after his 123-inch broad jump and 32-inch vertical. The only comps you can make are purely fictional. No one should be that size and move the way he does.
Aaron Schatz: Mike Tanier compares Davis to the Godskin Noble from Elden Ring. He's definitely a video game character of some sort.
Robert Weintraub: I know Davis is a nose tackle, Philly doesn't need him, whatever. All I know is I'm quite relieved Cincy won't be facing him twice a year.
Carl Yedor: I have been following the draft on The Athletic's Live Show and they were just lamenting the fact that Davis wouldn't get to go to Baltimore because of their history with big, dominant defensive linemen. I tend to agree here. Eagles jump ahead of them for one of the more unique physical talents up front we have seen recently. It's definitely a Planet Theory move.
Vincent Verhei: Eagles give up four picks for Jordan Davis. That's … interesting. They were 18th in both run defense DVOA and adjusted line yards last year. So it's not an obvious need. But, if the draft is as shallow as most people seem to think, those picks might not be as valuable as in a normal year.
That said, the Texans suck to a great degree, and I will applaud them for picking up three extra picks in any draft. The Giants and Texans seem to be the big winners of the first half of the first round, and I have zero idea how to process that information.
Tom Gower: One think about that trade is that, while the Eagles gave up three picks in addition to No. 15, they're all Day 3 picks. A team with extra draft picks and a more competitive roster, I can see how they wouldn't necessarily value three fourth- and fifth-round picks as much as a team with an old roster that needs to change things over like Houston. If you like the player that much, I think that's more of a win-win trade than the Lions and Vikings deal.
JP Acosta: I love it because he's going to make that entire defense work so much better. If Jonathan Gannon wants to run that Cover-2 defense, they need space eaters up front. Davis is an entire run defense by himself.
Vincent Verhei: At 14, the Baltimore Ravens select Kyle Hamilton, believed by many observers to be the best position-neutral talent in the draft. Of course they do. They're the Ravens!
Cale Clinton: The Ravens reportedly make another trade, per Ian Rapoport. Hollywood Brown and pick No. 100 are off to the Arizona Cardinals for 23 overall. What a deal.
Bryan Knowles: Lamar Jackson won't be happy.
Excuse my French real quick sir…. But HELL NAW❗️ https://t.co/uf1KyvaB8R
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) March 23, 2022
My big question is … why do the trade now, and not when the pick was coming up? Might be much ado about nothing, but it makes me wonder if there isn't a Part 2 to this trade.
Scott Spratt: I don't know, Bryan. The Ravens can get a better receiver than Brown with their new first-round pick. And they'll have him for his full rookie deal.
Vincent Verhei: Did the Cards just give up a first-round pick for a guy who might be WR4 on their depth chart behind DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, and Rondale Moore?
Carl Yedor: All I know is that I had most of my Almanac chapter concept written up for the Cardinals already, pending draft additions, and now it's due for some editing.
Aaron Schatz: I'm guessing that Hollywood Brown is now WR2 with Green as WR4 in what may be his final season.
Bryan Knowles: Though in that case, you have to wonder why the Cardinals gave Green a $6 million deal this offseason.
… and speaking of veteran receivers on the move, we have a blockbuster trade coming through, per Adam Schefter. A.J. Brown to the Eagles for No. 18 and a third-round pick.
JP Acosta: The NFL is the greatest
Carl Yedor: And here we thought the next receiver traded might be Deebo Samuel. (Sorry for coming anywhere close to speaking that into existence, Bryan.)
Bryan Knowles: It's OK, Carl; I just held my breath for the entire eight minutes the Jets were on the clock at No. 10. I think I may have seen a brand new color.
Picks 17 to 24
Bryan Knowles: And we have what might be our first reach of the draft! The Chargers grab guard Zion Johnson at No. 17. Has to be a guard in the pros due to limitations in space.
Cale Clinton: The Chargers now have two quality offensive linemen on rookie deals and are adding further protection for Justin Herbert. When you make splashes in free agency on guys like J.C. Jackson and pay multiple top-end receivers, you have got to make your budget plays somewhere. Love this from a cap perspective and a performance perspective.
JP Acosta: Building around your goblinman Megazord quarterback is always smart. They can move Matt Feiler to right tackle and Johnson to left guard.
Tom Gower: Uh, the A.J. Brown trade? For No. 18 and No. 101. I assume this will now be Treylon Burks right here, and whichever offensive lineman falls to them at No. 26 (more likely a tackle now, with Kenyon Green and Zion Johnson both gone). But this doesn't make the Titans a better team in 2022, and the signs we had were the Titans think they're going to be a good team this year and were trying to win. You don't trade for Robert Woods unless you're serious about winning games this year. I mean, it's a trade I could see myself making, but I didn't think what I think about the Titans is what they thought about themselves.
Cale Clinton: A.J. Brown goes for No. 18 and No. 101 and Hollywood Brown and No. 100 goes for No. 23? Make it make sense.
JP Acosta: I wonder what this says about the NFL trending towards the devaluation of wide receivers similar to what has happened to running backs. Trade them, don't pay them, draft another one.
Bryan Knowles: I don't think we're quite there yet, JP, but this is, what, the third draft in a row loaded with wideouts? A bit of supply-and-demand going on here, and as long as college football keeps churning out quality receiving prospects, we're going to see a lot of smart teams willing to rent talent for a few years and letting someone else pay for them later.
A four-year, $100-million extension for A.J. Brown, and I have to go rewrite part of the post-free agency cost-benefit analysis. Receiver market has gone nuts in the past month.
Vincent Verhei: The dollars and sense make things complicated, but I love the idea of what A.J. Brown, king of YAC, can do in Philly's RPO schemes.
Cale Clinton: And the Tennessee Titans select wide receiver Treylon Burks with the pick they got for A.J. Brown. ESPN's comps for Burks? A.J. Brown. With the versatility of Deebo Samuel. Comps aside, Burks hunts wild hogs with his bare hands, and that's badass. Can't coach that.
Robert Weintraub: Cale, I went catfish noodling with my bare hands once, and it was the worst decision I ever made. Burks looks at that and raises about 2000%.
Vincent Verhei: Offseason story idea: FO writers take on various outdoor dangers. I can see myself being overtaken by a swarm of bees.
Cale Clinton: Sign me up. I'm down to get my Bear Grylls on for the sake of content.
Carl Yedor: Vince, which of us gets to go geoduck digging? (This is not remotely dangerous and is a very niche Pacific Northwest thing for anyone confused.)
Carl Yedor: Not the first person to mention this obviously, but keep an eye on the Titans for a quarterback pick later on given the changing of the guard here at receiver. It would be more of a long-term play, but after how Tannehill performed in the playoffs this year, I would not be surprised if there are some questions about his viability there.
Tom Gower: I was skeptical the Titans were going for a quarterback, because any quarterback pick wouldn't make them a better team in 2022, and I think they were trying to win this year. I expected an offensive line pick, either a guard or a tackle. But with the top two guards off the board, Penning maybe starting the second tackle run at No. 19, and the A.J. Brown trade maybe changing the emphasis of this year, I'm raising my subjective probability.
JP Acosta: I'm not a huge fan of Trevor Penning. Of course everyone sees the aggression and the highlights, but he's messy with his technique and can get bulled. I knew this would be the range for him, but I'm not that high on him.
Bryan Knowles: And here we go. With the 20th pick in the draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers break the seal on the quarterback class, bringing in Kenny Pickett. Floor over ceiling, taking him over Malik Willis? But if you're going for ability now, why did you bring in Mitch Trubisky as a bridge?
Tom Gower: I thought the point of signing Mitchell Trubisky was that you could draft a quarterback who didn't have to play as a rookie, rather than to select the quarterback who was most ready to play even if he perhaps did not have a high ceiling. So, no, I don't get the Pickett selection any more than the Steelers fans I have been chatting with.
JP Acosta: The Steelers drafted a Kirk clone. I'm sick. This is not a good pick for Pittsburgh. Good process bad choice.
Kenny Pickett’s hands are way too small for him to play in a cold weather NFL city like Pittsburgh.
— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) March 3, 2022
Cale Clinton: This couldn't have worked out better for the New England Patriots. No linebackers off the board yet, and Trent McDuffie is still hanging around. I wonder which way they go with 21?
… aaaand they're trading back. Belichick is BACK, baby. Picked up 29, along with a third and a fourth, by sending the pick to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Aaron Schatz: There will be plenty of linebackers at No. 29.
Bryan Knowles: I was musing on Twitter that the Chiefs were probably watching Jermaine Johnson slide with baited breath. This a move to jump ahead of Baltimore for him? Or are they going ahead of Green Bay to get on the receiver train?
JP Acosta: This has gotta be Jermaine Johnson here. No wide receiver is worth it here, maybe Kaiir Elam?
Bryan Knowles: Nope, it's Trent McDuffie! Good pick, and any defender is a good grab for the Chiefs, but the Jermaine Johnson slide has to end at some point…
Tom Gower: Kansas City way overpaid in the trade-up, but they needed a corner, and I can still justify the win-now mode outlook. But Patrick Mahomes isn't that cheap, and you can't spend the next 15 years pretending like next year doesn't matter, right? … right?
JP Acosta: Good pick for Kansas City, scheme-versatile cornerback, can fill in for Charvarius Ward.
Bryan Knowles: Oh, Aaron Rodgers is not going to be happy. The Packers select linebacker Quay Walker, Georgia. Yes, I know all the top receivers are already gone, but that has never stopped Aaron Rodgers from being unhappy before.
JP Acosta: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Vincent Verhei: I'm not a college scout and I won't pretend to be one, but I will point out that Nakobe Dean and Devin Lloyd are both still available.
Cale Clinton: Someone tell me one of us had a ticket in for Quay Walker First LB off the board. I want one of us roll in cash.
Bryan Knowles: So, the Ravens traded Hollywood Brown for No. 23, but they just traded back out with the Bills. Never a dull moment for Eric DeCosta.
Aaron Schatz: Kaiir Elam to the Bills, who really didn't need a lot in particular. I'm so glad they didn't feel the pressure of all the mock drafters who couldn't stop giving them the running back they didn't really need.
Cale Clinton: One thing they definitely needed was a second cornerback. Letting Levi Wallace walk meant there was nothing behind Tre'Davious White. Love this for them.
Aaron Schatz: Yeah, I guess I'm thinking Taron Johnson but he's the nickel. So they needed a second starting outside corner.
Robert Weintraub: I was hoping Elam would slip down to 31.
JP Acosta: Love this fit for Buffalo. Allows them to play more man if they want to, and Elam and Tre White are a good duo. They needed a second corner more than a running back at this point, especially with Miami adding Tyreek Hill in the offseason.
Cale Clinton: Whoever that hula hoop guy was on ESPN's broadcast just won the draft for me. That was a zoom-in straight out of Tim & Eric. I'm out of breath from laughing so hard. I'm in stitches.
Bryan Knowles: We have a little bit of clarification on the timing of the Hollywood Brown trade—you know, about three massive deals ago. The trade was agreed to before today, and Brown and his girlfriend had already flown out to Arizona. The announcement was apparently timed so Brown could make a dramatic entrance at the Cardinals' draft party.
… you know what? I'm on board with that. That's the correct level of extra.
Picks 25 to 32
Bryan Knowles: And the Jets are back, trading with the Titans to pick up their third first-round pick of the draft! And this, finally, is someone swooping in and stopping the fall of Jermaine Johnson. I love the fit for Robert Saleh; while it's clear that the Internet draft analysts liked Johnson more than actual draft rooms, he's just an exceptional prospect for someone to coach up. Jets are really killing it tonight.
Scott Spratt: If Lamar Jackson is unhappy the Ravens traded Marquise Brown and didn't draft a Round 1 wide receiver, should they trade him to the Cardinals for Kyler Murray?
JP Acosta: The New York teams winning Night 1 of the draft was not on my list!
Cale Clinton: Every one of the Jets' top needs were met. Cornerback, wide receiver, and edge rusher. Check, check, and check. All top three in their respective position from this draft class. What a performance tonight by the Jets front office. And they still have a high second-rounder.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) April 29, 2022
Tom Gower: I didn't have a strong feeling for where the Titans were going to go at No. 26. Unless they were locked in on Desmond Ridder or another quarterback, moving back seemed like a good option as long as Jon Robinson found somebody willing to meet his price.
JP Acosta: I am mentally not prepared for this Jaguars pick. It's gotta be Nakobe Dean or George Pickens.
Bryan Knowles: Jags coming up here so they can get the fifth-year option on whoever they take, I suppose. Tampa Bay's planning on being in rebuilding mode in five years; they can slide down a bit. I'd say they need more offensive line help, but there's no one here to fill that need.
JP Acosta: The Jaguars select Devin Lloyd at 27. I like it, if they're going to fill the defense with big, fast dudes I'm in. Lloyd is a fun player who can put on a lot of hats for the Jaguars and fits Trent Baalke's type.
Aaron Schatz: I don't know, between all the money they gave Foyesade Oluokun and now the draft capital spent on Lloyd, that's a lot of capital spent on off-ball linebackers for the modern NFL.
JP Acosta: That's true, but they needed to replace Myles Jack and Lloyd fits what the Jaguars might want to do with their linebackers. They weren't going to draft a wide receiver here.
Bryan Knowles: Oh, Aaron Rodgers is not going to be happy. The Packers select defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt out of Georgia. All joking aside, the Packers got some solid defensive talent and didn't reach for anyone here, but that's two first-round picks on the defensive side of the ball…
Tom Gower: The board just broke badly for the Packers, and they didn't force a pick just because they needed a guy. That's fine. The one year the Packers with Rodgers won the Super Bowl, they had one of the best defenses in the league. That's a selling point.
Bryan Knowles: They could have stretched for Christian Watson or Skyy Moore here, but I actually agree with you, Tom. Both Burks and Wyatt fill needs, both are picked about where they should have gone, both are going to make the Packers better this season and for seasons in the future. But, man, after trading Davante Adams away and then spending two picks on Not Receivers, the jokes write themselves.
JP Acosta: I definitely thought this would be Pickens here, but that defensive line is going to be nasty for a long time.
Bryan Knowles: The Patriots select … offensive guard Cole Strange, who was somewhere in the 70s by Internet consensus. Fills a need, and Bill Belichick does not care about your big board.
Aaron Schatz: Patriots do this all the time, taking players before conventional wisdom had them. Not as much as the Raiders, but a lot. Drives me nuts.
Cale Clinton: Was interior offensive line even the biggest need for New England, though? Linebacker and cornerback feel way more pressing options available on the board. I'm not running the Patriots, though. Just frustrating to watch Andrew Booth and Nakobe Dean still on board while New England takes players with third-round grades. Hey, it worked with Kyle Dugger.
Aaron Schatz: I don't think it was the biggest need, but it was a need. James Ferentz was set to start at right guard. But they probably could have gotten this guy in the mid-second round, maybe later.
Cale Clinton: Meanwhile, Sean McVay and Les Snead are having a field day with the Patriots' pick:
Rams reaction to Patriots selection of Cole Strange at #29.
This is hysterical. pic.twitter.com/ADzqt4lizQ
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) April 29, 2022
Robert Weintraub: Very glad the Bengals weren't put in a position to decide on Wyatt. They need a 3-technique but Wyatt is 24 and has character issues. Not a guy I wanted in stripes. Would love George Karlaftis, but feels like Cincy will go Booth/Hill/Gordon/Cine, any of whom would be good. Don't love Booth as much as others, so of course he will be the guy...
Carl Yedor: Chiefs go defense with both of their first two picks, meaning they may be looking at receivers tomorrow as a long-term project to try to replace Tyreek Hill. Mecole Hardman does still exist, but this is going to be the last year of his rookie contract somehow. Based on what he has shown, he does not strike me as any sort of real extension candidate. Kansas City is slated to pick twice in the second round, and a receiver could be in the offing there.
JP Acosta: Karlaftis is a fun player, got to see him live against Northwestern. He's a high-energy, heavy-handed pass-rusher who's gonna make that defensive line group a lot better.
Robert Weintraub: Kansas City broke my heart with Karlaftis but I like Daxton Hill plenty. Very versatile, which is what Cincy loves in the defensive back room.
The Dust Settles
Cale Clinton: If I was running early predictions for the Report Card Report, I'd think Kansas City is up there with the New York teams as some of the consensus best draft classes. Maybe the trade-up for McDuffie docks them points, but I really like both picks they have made tonight. Philadelphia Eagles would be up there, but picks for players always comes up wonky.
Tom Gower: The A.J. Brown trade from a selfish perspective overwhelms a draft that, while interesting in its details, lacked an overwhelming focus at the top. In terms of 2022 effect, that feels like it maybe should be the most important story. The New York teams aren't winning anything. Kansas City added depth, but they're not great because of McDuffie and Karlaftis. I'll need to process this more later, but that feels like it could be more epochal than anything that happened tonight.
JP Acosta: Overall I think the two New York teams, Kansas City, and Philadelphia won tonight. Philly getting their wide receiver in A.J. Brown and Jordan Davis is great.
Vincent Verhei: I usually like to close Round 1 by naming some winners and losers, but this year it seems to me like there are way more winners. I like what the Giants and Texans did. I really like Philadelphia's two bold trades. The Jets are a better team than they were this morning. The Ravens added a pair of good starters and oodles of picks.
The losers? Well, I'm not crazy about Arizona trading for Hollywood Brown (and picking up his fifth-year option!), but they have basically said they were just trying to keep their quarterback happy, and I can't fault them for that. New Orleans overpaid for their trade, but not to an extreme degree.
I guess there's always Aaron Rodgers.