By: Gus Wilson
Since the beginning of 2022, the National Football League (NFL) has been full of surprises. Whether it was some of the more entertaining games of the last couple of years, events being questioned, or surprising incoming rookies, this year has been great for NFL fans so far. In the AFC Divisional round, the Bills vs Chiefs was one of the greatest games many fans have ever seen.
In the final game of the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs, there was a rematch of the AFC Championship last year and a rematch of week 5 of the regular season, the Buffalo Bills traveling to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. In the AFC Championship game last year, the Chiefs took down the Bills 38 to 24. However, in week 5 of this past season, the Bills punished the Chiefs 38 to 20. The Chiefs were slight favorites to win this game, as they opened as a one-point betting favorite.
The game started as flashy as many expected it would, the Bills converted two fourth-down conversions on the opening drive, with the second one being a one-yard touchdown run by Devin Singletary. The Chiefs answered right back with an eight-yard touchdown run from Patrick Mahomes. The second quarter was filled with even more back-and-forth action, with neither team scoring until the 1:58 mark when Mahomes converted on a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Byron Pringle to take a 14-7 lead. With 42 seconds left in the half, Allen fired a touchdown to Gabriel Davis from 18 yards out to tie it up. While the Chiefs had a nice drive at the end of the half, kicker Harrison Butker missed a field goal to keep the game tied at 14 after two quarters.
The second half of this matchup is where things really heated up. The Chiefs started off the half with a Harrison Butker field goal to take a 3-point lead. Following a stop on defense, Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman took a jet sweep handoff 25 yards to the endzone to extend the lead to 9 due to Butker missing an extra point. The Bills didn’t hesitate to strike back, as Gabriel Davis took a Josh Allen pass 75 yards for a touchdown for his second touchdown of the night. Going into the final quarter, the Bills trailed 23 to 21.
After back-to-back punts from both teams to open the final 15 minutes, the Chiefs found themselves at Buffalo’s 16-yard line after a big punt return from Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs ended up settling for 3 points to take a five-point lead with just under 9 minutes to go. On the Bills’ next drive, they were faced with a 4th and 4 with 2:48 left in the game. Josh Allen rushed for 6 yards, and the drive continued. Then, with two minutes left, on 4th and 13, Josh Allen converted on a 27-yard laser to Gabriel Davis once again to take a 3-point lead after a Stefon Diggs catch on the two-point conversion. The Chiefs would fire right back with a Patrick Mahomes 64-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill to take a 4-point lead with a little over a minute remaining. After another two huge catches for Gabriel Davis on the following Bills drive, he scored his 4th touchdown, an NFL record in the playoffs. This gave the Bills a 3-point lead with a mere 13 seconds left in regulation. The game seemed all but over, as getting into field goal range from their own 25-yard line with under 15 seconds left seemed nearly impossible. However, Patrick Mahomes delivered a 19-yard pass to Tyreek Hill before calling the first of two remaining timeouts. On the following play, Mahomes hit tight end Travis Kelce for a gain of 25. With only 3 seconds left, the Chiefs called a timeout, to kick the game-tying 49-yard field goal to send the game into overtime, with the score at 36 all. It was one of the most amazing drives to set up a game-tying play in the history of the NFL unquestionably.
The beginning of overtime was one of the more talked-about moments of this game, as the Chiefs won the coin toss and were able to start with the ball. The current NFL overtime rules say that if the team that receives the ball first scores a touchdown, the game is over and the other team will not receive a chance with the ball unless the receiving team settles for a field goal or does not score. Regardless of all of the arguments surrounding these rules, the Chiefs received the ball first in this game. Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense moved down the field effortlessly and ended the game on a walk-off Travis Kelce 8-yard touchdown reception.
The duel between two of the most promising and talented quarterbacks in the league lived up to expectations and provided viewers with maybe the greatest game in the decade or longer. While the Kansas City Chiefs move on to the AFC Championship to go against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bills will return back to Buffalo with revenge on their mind next season.
After this stellar game, fans looked forward to the NFL Pro Bowl, where they usually enjoy watching their favorite players play against each other. This year was very different, however.
With the National Football League (NFL) Pro Bowl Weekend ending after Sunday’s Pro Bowl Game between the better players in the American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC), the same question arose that has been pondered over for years now: What can be done to make the All-Star weekend entertaining again? Other major sports leagues such as the NBA, MLB, and NHL all have their own entertaining all-star festivities that fans and players enjoy. How can the most-watched sport in America not have the same?
It was reported that the most recent Pro Bowl game was the lowest-watched match since 2006. The low ratings can surely be attributed to the lack of effort put into the exhibition game. The players were seen playing what looked like 2 hand touch and there were very few instances of tackling. Former NFL legends such as Shannon Sharpe and Deion Sanders expressed their anger with the lack of intensity in the game. Current players such as Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay tried to explain on Twitter how players don’t want to get hurt playing in a game that has no implications. This fear of injury and lack of intensity can be further depicted with the number of opt-outs in recent years of Pro Bowl nominations. While it used to be a dream for these athletes to become Pro Bowlers, it has become a hassle to compete in.
The NFL can change many aspects of the Pro Bowl weekend to draw more attention and prevent as many opt-outs as there have been. One of these changes can be to add incentives. In the MLB All-Star Game, the winning conference gets to have a home-field advantage in the World Series. While this wouldn’t work in the NFL because the Super Bowl location is already decided, the incentive for the game to be competitive is an excellent idea. Another change that can be made is to eliminate the game in general. Before the game currently, players run through an obstacle course, have a catching competition, fastest man race, and dodgeball games. Repeating these events or adding more events can bring back the enjoyment to fans and reduce injuries that may happen from the game.
While the NFL has yet to announce if they will make any changes to this game, it is needed and imminent for the league to adjust their version of an All-Star game for player and fan enjoyment.
With the boring wait between the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl over, fans rejoiced that they were finally able to watch an enjoyable football game. Super Bowl LVI was between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams, and it certainly lived up to the hype.
On Sunday, February 13th, 2022, Super Bowl LVI (56) was set to take place in Los Angeles, California, at the newly built SoFi stadium. The biggest game of the year in the National Football League (NFL) was between the NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams and the winner of the AFC, Cincinnati Bengals. With both teams coming off last-second wins against their conference champion opponents, they both looked to hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the first time since Super Bowl XXXIV (34) for the Rams, and the first time ever for the Bengals. While it was only the second time in NFL history one of the teams had home-field advantage in the championship game, the first time coming just last year, neither team let that alter the game plan.
After a short introduction from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson just seconds before kickoff, the game was underway. On each team’s opening drive, the defenses came up clutch with a forced punt by the Bengals unit and a fourth and one stop by the LA Rams. The Rams took the momentum after a stop on fourth down and used it to score from 17 yards out from a Matthew Stafford pass to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. This touchdown was the only one of the very defensive first quarter. The Bengals ended the first by scoring a field goal to cut the lead to four.
The second quarter started off with a Matthew Stafford master class. After throwing a 35-yard pass to Odell Beckham Jr. on third and 11, he threw a 25-yard pass to running back Darrell Henderson Jr. He finalized this drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to the NFL AP Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp. After a missed hold on the extra point, the lead was extended to 13 to three. Cincinnati wasn’t going to go down by too much as they used some trickery by pitching the ball to running back Joe Mixon, where he threw a six-yard touchdown to wide receiver Tee Higgins. On the next drive, the Bengals stepped up defensively. Safety Jessie Bates III picked off Matthew Stafford on a deep pass to the endzone. After the interception, neither team did much for the rest of the half, making the score 13 to 10 with the Rams in the lead. During the quarter, however, Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a non-contact knee injury and was helped off the field. After the game, it was diagnosed as a Torn ACL.
The Pepsi Halftime Show didn’t let anyone down. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg opened up and had the crowd going electric. Along with the amazing performances of Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, and Eminem, 50 Cent surprised the crowd as a guest appearance as well/
The Cincinnati Bengals started off the second half with a bang. On the first offensive play, Joe Burrow released a deep ball to Tee Higgins for a 75-yard touchdown to take the lead. While it did look like Higgins may have grabbed the facemask of star cornerback Jalen Ramsey to get open, the points counted. Stafford was then intercepted by cornerback Chidobe Awuzie after a bobbled pass from wide receiver Ben Skowronek. Momentum completely shifted in favor of the Bengals. They converted on a field goal later on the drive to take a seven-point lead. The Rams responded with another field goal to cut the deficit to four going into the final quarter of the NFL Season.
After more defensive back and forth, Los Angeles received the ball back with 6:13 left in regulation, still down 20-16. After a 17 play drive from Stafford, including seven from inside the 10, due to multiple penalties being called. Stafford threw his third touchdown of the game and second to Cooper Kupp to take a three-point lead with under one minute and 30 seconds to go. With young phenom Joe Burrow at quarterback, the Bengals were confident in a late drive to send the game to overtime. After a 17 yard pass to NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase on first down. The Bengals faced a third and one after two plays. On this third down, three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald made an incredible play by grabbing running back Samaje Perine and holding him back from gaining the one-yard needed. On fourth and one, with the season on the line for both teams’ season at stake, Aaron Donald made his second straight play forcing the incomplete and bad throw from Burrow and almost bringing him down for a sack. This play sealed the Super Bowl for the Rams and sent the Bengals home wondering what could have been. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was the most visibly upset on the sideline after the final kneel down, as he knew all of his hard work in New York and Cleveland finally paid off. Although Aaron Donald had the late-game heroics, Cooper Kupp won the Super Bowl MVP with eight catches, 92 yards, and two touchdowns, including the game-winner.
While the Los Angeles Rams look to repeat as NFL Champions again next year in Arizona, the young and upcoming Bengals look to continue to prove doubters wrong next year and bring home the Lombardi for the first time in franchise history.
With the 2021-2022 regular season wrapping up, NFL fans felt like they had to wait forever for the slightest football news. Luckily, less than a month later, the NFL Combine took place, where many future NFL stars proved themselves.
The National Football League (NFL) just wrapped up their NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana at Lucas Oil Stadium from March 3rd to the 6th. Every year since 1982, the NFL has held the Combine and invited prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft to impress scouts and either raise their draft stock or drop it. This most recent Combine, however, was more memorable than years past, showing how athletic the 2022 draft class truly is.
On the first day of the NFL Combine, the tight end, quarterback, and wide receiver prospects participated in the on-field drills, measurements, and other athletic drills. Eight wide receivers ran the 40-yard dash in under 4.4 seconds, making it the fastest wide receiver class since 2003. Tyquan Thorton out of Baylor ran the fastest time out of offensive players with 4.28. During these drills, he ran an unofficial 4.21, which would’ve been an NFL record, but the timers struggled with the receiver group and announced it was an official 4.28. Some of the top receiver prospects—Treylon Burks, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and George Pickens—impressed all with their 40-yard dash and on-the-field drills. The biggest riser in this group was Christian Watson out of North Dakota State University. Measuring at 6 foot 4, and 208 pounds, he ran a 4.36 40 yard dash, had a 38.5 inch vertical, and an 11-foot broad jump. Watson is now expected to be taken within the first two rounds. University of Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder put on the best athletic performance of his group. Ridder ran a 4.52 40-yard dash, had a 36-inch vertical, and a 10 feet 7 inches broad jump. Malik Willis of Liberty University performed the best on the field, and it was reported that Sam Howell from the University of North Carolina had the best interviews among the teams. Trey McBride continued to prove he was the best tight end in the class with impressive on-the-field drills.
Day two was the time for the running backs and offensive linemen to shine. Running backs Breece Hall from Iowa State and Kenneth Walker III from Michigan State proved that they were the best two running backs in the class. Along with a running back best 40 inch vertical, Hall ran a 4.39 40 yard dash. Walker ran a surprising 4.38 40 that pushed him past Isiah Spiller as the second-best back in many scouts’ eyes. Rachaad White and Zamir White may have had the best days, however. Rachaad White ran a 4.48 40 yard dash, had a 38 inch vertical, and a 10 foot 5-inch broad jump. Zamir White tied for the best broad jump with 10 feet 8-inches and ran a 4.4 40 yard dash. All four running backs were also exceptional in the on-field drills.
Day three, defensive linemen and linebackers, was dominated by the National Champion Georgia Bulldogs defense. The most impressive performance of this years’ Combine and maybe the greatest combine of any prospect ever was that of Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis. Measuring in at 6’6 and 341 pounds, Davis ran one of the fastest 40-yard dashes from a player weighing more than 300 pounds at a 4.78, faster than star quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. His athleticism doesn’t stop there, as he had a 32-inch vertical jump and 10’3 foot broad jump. His teammates on the same defensive line showed out as well, with defensive tackle Devontae Wyatt running a 4.77 40 at 304 pounds, and defensive end Travon Walker running a 4.51 40, having a 35.5 vertical jump and a 10’3 foot broad jump. Besides the stars for the Bulldogs, a defensive end out of Virginia Tech, Amare Barno, ran a ridiculous 40 at 4.36 with an almost 11-foot broad jump.
The final day of the Combine took place on Sunday when the defensive backs and special teamers took the field. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner proved he was the best corner in the draft after coming into Indianapolis at 6’3 and 190 pounds and ran a 4.41 40 yard dash while looking more than impressive during the on-the-field drills. The fastest 40-yard dash ran in this year’s Combine and 2nd fastest of all time was run by Kalon Barnes. Barnes ran the 40 yards in an almost record-setting 4.23 seconds, only 0.01 seconds off of tying the record set by John Ross. Tariq Woolen also showed off his blazing speed with a 4.26 40 yard dash, along with an impressive 42 inch vertical. Punter Matt Araiza had an insane punting performance at the end of the day as well.
While many players that showed out in Indianapolis have been mentioned, many of the other young prospects showed out and increased their draft stock. To see the statistics of every player who participated, check out the Combine section on nfl.com. The NFL Draft is a little over a month away and prospects and fans alike can’t wait to see these players’ dreams realized.
These same prospects had their dreams come true in the NFL Draft, where they were picked by one of 32 NFL teams to play for them in the upcoming season.
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.
So far, the NFL has been more than intriguing, and we can only hope that the 2022-2023 regular season and playoffs reflect that.