The Pick is In: Winners and Losers of the 2022 NFL Draft



Mitchell Brenner '24, Staff Reporter

The NFL Draft can make or break the future of an NFL franchise, especially for the worst teams. Many times, drafting within the top 5 or 10 means that those teams may be drafting a possible franchise cornerstone for years to come. However, great players can fall outside of the top 10 and even the first round. For example, Tom Brady, the undisputed greatest football player of all time, was drafted in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL Draft. The 2022 NFL Draft was filled with college superstars and blockbuster trades in hopes that they will turn their franchises around or keep them in the spotlight. 


The NFL Draft is an event held in late April, where each team holds a pick in each of the first to seventh rounds. These picks allow teams to make a selection of any college football player that has declared from the draft and has not been selected yet. This means that the earlier the pick is, the more valuable it is due to more players being available when that team is on the clock. The order of the picks is determined by the team’s regular season record, so in the first round, the worst team is given the best pick, and the best team is given the worst pick. This order is flipped in a snake pattern, so that if you have the 1st pick in the first round, you have the 32nd pick in the second round, and so on. Not every team has certain picks each year, as many teams trade away first and second round picks for already proven star players, as the draft can be a bit of a gamble, but this gamble often pays off very well.


For the second year in a row, the Jacksonville Jaguars held the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. After drafting Trevor Lawrence, one of the greatest quarterback prospects in college football history, first overall last year, the Jaguars looked towards their defense. With the first pick, they selected Travon Walker, an edge rusher for the national championship winning Georgia Bulldogs. The Detroit Lions took the same approach as the Jaguars selecting another edge rusher, Aidan Hutchinson, a Heisman Trophy finalist out of Michigan, who was seen as a better prospect than Travon Walker who was taken at #1 overall. The Houston Texans were on the clock at the third pick and selected Derek Stingley Jr., a cornerback out of Louisiana State University (LSU). Stingley was a great cornerback in college, however most people did not think he should have been picked as early as he was, and instead believed Cincinnati cornerback, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardener, to be the better player. Pick number four was owned by the New York Jets, who took Gardener. The fifth overall pick was by the other New York team, The Giants, and they took this opportunity to draft Kayvon Thibodeaux, an edge rusher out of the University of Oregon.


The top five picks this year just scratched the surface of the amount of talent that some teams added to their rosters. Unfortunately, many times great players fall outside of their projected range. One team that had a “home run of a draft” was the New York Jets, drafting most analysts top corner in the draft, Sauce Gardener, at pick 4, top wide receiver, Garrett Wilson, at pick 10, and trading back into the first round to draft top 5 edge prospect, Jermaine Johnson. Those were just the first round picks, as the Jets also drafted the top running back Breece Hall from Iowa State in the early second round. Another team that had a great draft was the Baltimore Ravens, drafting the top safety Kyle Hamilton at pick 14, and interior offensive lineman Tyler Linderbaum at pick 25. The only downside to the Raven’s draft was the fact that they traded away their best wide receiver for the draft pick that became Linderbaum. One final team that had a great draft was the Philadelphia Eagles, but this was only partially due to their draft picks, as they traded away the picks 18 and 101 to the Tennessee Titans for star wide receiver A.J. Brown. The Eagles also drafted defensive tackle Jordan Davis at pick 13, and Nakobe Dean, a first round prospect who fell all the way to the third round.


Although some teams had great drafts, there are always teams that have very questionable draft day choices. Whether they overthink their picks or just hold a certain player too highly, these teams exist every year. The biggest offender of these questionable picks this year was none other than the New England Patriots. The Patriots held the 23rd pick, and with this pick they selected Cole Strange, an offensive line prospect who was projected to be taken in the late second round or early third round. To make matters even worse, with this projection, there was about a 93% chance that Cole Strange would have still been available by the Patriots’ next pick. The Patriots did not just make one mindless selection, but made another one in the fourth round, selecting Quarterback Bailey Zappe with pick 137. The problem that arises is not with the player himself, but with the fact that the Patriots drafted quarterback Mac Jones in the first round of the 2021 draft who was also a pro-bowler in his rookie year. The Patriots had no reason to waste a pick on a player that will probably not even play for them barring an injury to Mac Jones or poor play. 


The NFL Draft can turn around poor franchises, however none of these players have even played an NFL snap yet, so nothing can be certain until next season. Last year’s SuperBowl winner, the Los Angeles Rams, have not had a first round pick since their first overall pick in 2016, and it seemed to work for them as they won the SuperBowl. The draft is very important, but it does not mean everything in a team’s failure or success. If in five or ten years, Bailey Zappe and Cole Strange are cornerstones of the Patriots’ franchise, we won’t be thinking of them as bad picks, but from their perspective now, that is what the public thinks.  We won’t be able to know how good these players will be until the start of the 2022 NFL regular season, but for now we can look back at the perceived winners and losers of the 2022 NFL Draft.