NFL Draft Grades

By: Gus Wilson

Late in the afternoon of April 30th, the 2022 National Football League (NFL) Draft came to a close with Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy being this year’s Mr. Irrelevant. The 2022 Draft was seen as full of uncertainty before the first pick was made. After all seven rounds, there were many surprises, reaches, and great value picks by each team. In this article, I will be grading each team’s draft class.

Arizona Cardinals: C+

The Cardinals earned a slightly above-average C+ grade for their draft class. The Cardinals traded their first-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for young receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, filling a major need at the position and pairing him up with his college quarterback Kyler Murray. They filled their needs by drafting edge rushers Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders. Other than feeling these positions of need, their draft was somewhat mediocre. They drafted the number one tight end in the class Trey McBride, which was a bit of a head-scratcher due to the fact they just re-signed tight-end Zach Ertz for three more years.

Atlanta Falcons: B+

Similar to Arizona, the Atlanta Falcons draft class was filled with positions of need. With the eighth overall pick, they took wide receiver Drake London from the University of Southern California, who many believed to be the best player in his position in the class. With their two second-round picks, they focused on their weak defense by taking Arnold Ebiketie, a pass rusher, and linebacker Troy Anderson. In the third round, they took the first quarterback since the first round in University of Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder, great value for one of the best quarterbacks in this year’s class. Running back Tyler Allgeier from Brigham Young University was also a great value pick in round five.

Baltimore Ravens: A

The Baltimore Ravens had one of the top three best draft classes in the NFL. They hit on both first-round picks after acquiring another one from the Marquise Brown trade by picking top prospects Kyle Hamilton, a safety from Notre Dame, and Tyler Linderbaum from the University of Iowa. Hamilton was viewed as a top-five player by many, and Linderbaum as a top-fifteen prospect. The second and third rounds were just as impressive with selections of David Ojabo and Travis Jones. They nailed many of their six-fourth rounds picks with players such as Daniel Faalele, Jalyn Armour-Davis, and Charlie Kolar.

Buffalo Bills: A

The Bills had one of the best drafts in their division, as well as the league. First-round pick Kaiir Elam, a cornerback from Florida, is expected to come in and be an immediate difference-maker as the second corner behind star Tre’Davious White. Running back from the University of Georgia James Cook at the end of the second round is a great fit for the already high-powered offense, along with wide receiver Khalil Shakir from Boise State. In the sixth round, they also took the “Punt God” Matt Araiza from San Diego State University, one of the best punters in college football last year.

Carolina Panthers: B-

The Carolina Panthers got two great value picks with their first two selections in the NFL Draft, taking offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu from North Carolina State at number six overall, and arguably the best quarterback in the draft in the third round, Matt Corral from University of Mississippi. The rest of their draft was filled with solid players as well, however, they may need some time to develop with Amare Barno and Kalon Barnes.

Chicago Bears: B-

Even though they did not have a first-round pick due to the trade-up for quarterback Justin Fields last year, the Chicago Bears had a plethora of picks in this year’s draft. While they did not address their biggest need at wide receiver with a high pick, they made great picks for the other positions of need. Defensive backs Kyler Gordon from the University of Washington and Jaquan Brisker from Penn State University were excellent picks for the weak secondary from just a year ago. Their other nine picks were all-important depth pieces for a young team already.

Cincinnati Bengals: C+

The Cincinnati Bengals were in the Super Bowl just three months ago, falling short to the Los Angeles Rams. Their draft class was not as impressive as their playoff run. While they did make a great pick by selecting defensive back Daxton Hill from the University of Michigan at number 31 in the first round and safety Cam Taylor-Britt from the University of Nebraska, the remaining picks were nothing special and did not address arguably their most important positions.

Cleveland Browns: B

While the Cleveland Browns didn’t make their first pick until the third round due to the Deshaun Watson trade earlier this offseason, they made the most out of it. Prospects Martin Emerson, David Bell, and Perrion Winfrey were perfect picks at each of their draft slots, all in positions of need. Defensive end Alex Wright from UAB is projected to be a great NFL player if he could be developed correctly as well.

Dallas Cowboys: D

Although this grade seems a bit harsh for a professional football team, it’s certainly fitting looking at the prospects they drafted and where they drafted them. With their first pick, they reached on an offensive line project Tyler Smith from Tulsa. This seemed to be the theme of their draft, seeming to reach many players in positions of need when better players at the same position were available. Obviously, like all of these draft classes, they can all end up being amazing NFL players, but it doesn’t look like it currently.

Denver Broncos: B

Like the Cleveland Browns, the Denver Broncos didn’t pick until much later than most NFL teams because of their trade for star quarterback Russell Wilson during the offseason. Their first two picks were stellar, taking Nik Bonitto, an outside linebacker from Oklahoma, and tight end from UCLA, Greg Dulcich. They then built on their depth on a potential Super Bowl team with safety Delarrin Turner-Yell and defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike from Iowa State University.

Detroit Lions: B+

With the second overall pick, the Detroit Lions selected Aidan Hutchinson from the University of Michigan, the top player on many people’s boards. This great pick was followed by maybe even a better pick when they traded up with the Minnesota Vikings for star University of Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams at pick number twelve. The rest of their draft class was very solid and they look to improve from their lackluster season a year ago.

Green Bay Packers: C+

Heading into the NFL Draft, the whole league knew the Packers wanted and needed a wide receiver; or so we thought. However, with the early run of teams trading up for receivers, Green Bay did not get involved and stayed at their two picks in the first round at 22 and 28. They took college teammates at these picks from the University of Georgia with linebacker Quay Walker and defensive linemen Devonte Wyatt. Even though they weren’t able to draft one of the top receivers, they were able to take Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs in the second and fourth rounds respectively. They also drafted good players with some of their other picks such as Sean Rhyan, Zach Tom, and Kingsley Enagbare.

Houston Texans: B

The Houston Texans draft was extremely up and down. Although they had the third and fifteenth overall picks in the first round, they took players who seem to be “boom-or-bust” type players in cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and Kenyon Green. However, they both have a ton of upside and can be amazing players in the NFL. John Metchie III, the wide receiver out of the University of Alabama was also a questionable pick, but taking players like Jalen Pitre, Christian Harris, and Dameon Pierce will surely make up for it.

Indianapolis Colts: C+

The Colts draft was filled with taking players in positions of need, and they had a solid draft class doing so. Bernard Raihmann and Nick Cross were talented third round selections, and Alec Pierce and Jelani Woods are expected to have a solid role in the offense for the 2022-2023 season. Other than these picks, their draft was pretty mediocre.

Jacksonville Jaguars: B-

Even though the Jacksonville Jaguars had the first pick in the entire draft, it is difficult to give them a grade greater than a B-. They took the athletic freak Travon Walker from the University of Georgia over the surefire player in Aidan Hutchinson. They did take two great linebackers after trading back into the first round for Devin Lloyd, arguably the best in the draft at his position, and Chad Muma at the front of the third round. Other than these solid defensive picks, the class was lackluster.

Kansas City Chiefs: A- 

The Chiefs had two first round picks after trading star wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins over a month ago. They used one of the first round picks to trade up for one of the top cornerback prospects Trent McDuffie and stayed put with the other and took edge rusher George Karlaftis at 30, both positions of need for the lackluster defense. They continued to draft immediate playmakers with wide receiver Skyy Moore and safety Bryan Cook. Another stellar pick for this team was linebacker Leo Chenal from Wisconsin.

Los Angeles Chargers: B-

The Chargers have had an amazing offseason, adding stars such as J.C. Jackson, Khalil Mack, and Sebastian Joseph-Day to an already young and developing roster looking to compete in the hardest division in football. Their first three picks were all great additions. Offensive lineman Zion Johnson is expected to be a high-end starter on their weaker offensive line while safety JT Woods and running back Isaiah Spiller are great depth pieces for a team looking to make the playoffs after just missing out last year.

Los Angeles Rams: D+

The reigning Super Bowl champions success came from the success of trading a majority of their high picks and selections in general. Although they had a weak class overall and drafted for depth, they look to repeat as champions. Since they did win a Super Bowl by trading their picks, it clearly paid off, raising their grade from a D to a D +.

Las Vegas Raiders: C+

The Raiders traded their first and second round picks in this year’s draft to acquire superstar wide receiver Davante Adams to team up with his former college quarterback at Fresno State in Derek Carr. Offensive lineman Dylan Parham highlighted their class along with Zamir White from Georgia, and Neil Farrell from LSU.
Miami Dolphins: C

In a similar case to the Raiders, the Miami Dolphins traded much of their draft capital for Tyreek Hill, leaving them with only four selections in this year’s draft. While linebacker Channing Tindall was a solid pick in the third round from the University of Georgia, the remaining three picks were lackluster. They obviously did acquire Tyreek Hill so the haul wasn’t the worst.

Minnesota Vikings: B-

The Minnesota Vikings started off their draft by trading back from pick 12 all the way to pick 32 from the Detroit Lions along with the second pick in the second round, just one of many trade backs in their class. They focused heavily on defense, with three players on that side of the ball in the first four selections. Cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. from Clemson University was a steal in the second round, and safety Lewis Cine and linebacker Brian Asamoah project to be great NFL players.

New England Patriots: C-

The New England Patriots made the most questionable selection in the first round by selecting offensive lineman Cole Strange from UT-Chattanooga, who many saw as a steal in rounds three through four, but not worthy of a first round pick. They then traded up for a wide receiver in round two, but took Tyquan Thornton, when players such as George Pickens, Alec Pierce, and Skyy Moore were still available. The rest of their draft was solid depth players and two running backs Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris.

New Orleans Saints: C+

The New Orleans Saints were one of many teams that had two selections in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and one of the few that traded up with one of these picks. They traded up from 16 to 11 to take wide receiver from Ohio State University in Chris Olave, and stayed at 19 to take offensive lineman Trevor Penning from University of Northern Iowa. Other than these extremely solid picks, their remaining selections were not the best and lowered their grade a solid amount.

New York Giants: A-

With two picks inside the top seven, the New York Giants needed to hit on both players to set the tone on the 2022 NFL Draft, and they exceeded expectations. Arguably the best player in the entire draft, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeuax, fell to them at pick five, and then arguably the best offensive linemen in draft Evan Neal was selected at pick seven. Both of these players will fill immediate holes on the Giants roster and be impact players for years to come. While they had weaker rounds two through seven, their first two picks were unbelievable.

New York Jets: A+

The New York Jets had the best draft class from the 2022 draft. They finished the night with three first round picks. With the fourth overall pick, they selected cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, a lockdown corner, the best at his position in this year’s class. At pick ten, they drafted the best receiver in the class at Garrett Wilson from Ohio State University. They traded up back into the first round to draft a steal at pick 26 in Jermaine Johnson II from Florida State University, a player unexpected to fall that far and was projected as a top ten pick in many mock drafts. In the second round, they drafted the best running back in the class, Breece Hall. In the third, they took tight end Jeremy Ruckert, a position of need. In the fourth, they took offensive lineman Max Mitchell, a great player in the later rounds. Selecting top echelon players at positions of need gives the Jets the best grade among all 32 teams.

Philadelphia Eagles: B+

The Eagles made the biggest trade on draft night when they made a move for young star receiver A.J. Brown for the 18th overall pick. For a team projected to take a wide receiver in the first round, trading for Brown is an excellent move. They also traded up to pick 13 for the athletic freak defensive lineman Jordan Davis. They followed up selecting Jordan Davis with offensive linemen Cameron Jurgens to be the successor to an aging Jason Kelce, and then arguably got the steal of the draft taking linebacker Nakobe Dean, the leader of the NCAA Championship winning University of Georgia defense and teammate of Jordan Davis.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B+

Pittsburgh took their probable quarterback of the future in Kenny Pickett out of Pittsburgh. Their next two picks were viewed by many as two amazing steals, with receiver George Pickens and defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal. Both of these players are amazing talents but struggled with injuries. Pickens and Leal have the upside of future NFL greats. They also took the speedster receiver Calvin Austin III out of Memphis, who will join Pickens as a great pass catcher for their rookie quarterback.

San Francisco 49ers: C+

After trading up for Trey Lance last year, the 49ers had little early draft capital and didn’t have their first pick until the end of the second round where they took a good prospect in edge rusher Drake Jackson. They then decided to upgrade their offensive weapons with running back Tyrion Davis-Price and wide receiver Danny Gray. Then proceeded to draft for depth, so a solid draft for San Francisco this year.

Seattle Seahawks: B+

The Seahawks started and ended their draft very strong this year. With the ninth overall pick, they addressed their weak offensive line with Charles Cross. With their two early second round picks, they filled another need with edge rusher Boye Mafe, and took one of the top running backs in the class with Kenneth Walker III out of Michigan State University. Their remaining notable picks all helped fill needs: offensive linemen Abraham Lucas, cornerbacks Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen, and wide receiver Bo Melton.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C

Tampa Bay didn’t need to hit on their draft class as much as other teams, as Tom Brady is coming out of retirement to play at least this year. The Buccaneers traded out of the first round to select defensive linemen Logan Hall out of Houston for their first move on the night, a player who many expected to sneak into the first round. Other than Hall, there other notable selections included Rachaad White, a running back from Arizona State University, and cornerback Zyon McCollum a talented, athletic corner, from Sam Houston.

Tennessee Titans: B

The Titans were on the other side of the biggest deal of the night as referenced earlier when they sent AJ Brown to the Eagles for pick 18. With this pick, they selected his replacement in Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks. While this move was a downgrade, Burks has a ton of potential. Tennessee continued making great picks with Roger McCreary in the second and Nicholas Petit-Frere. They might have gotten the steal of the draft as well, selecting quarterback from Liberty University Malik Willis. Willis was a projected first round pick based on his potential, but slipped into the third until the Titans decided to take a shot on him.

Washington Commanders: C

The inaugural draft of the Washington Commanders didn’t seem to go as planned. They decided to trade back to the 16th pick and missed out on most of the great receivers in the draft and took Jahan Dotson. Back to back Alabama players in Phildarian Mathis and Brian Robinson Jr. were their next two selections. Sam Howell also seemed to be a steal at quarterback, another potential first-round caliber player, who they took in the fifth round.

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