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NFL Draft Observations from Day 1: Winners and Losers

With Day 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft in the books, football fans got their offseason football fix with an entertaining evening of moves. I highlighted several questions in my final mock draft, and Round 1 provided plenty of answers in that regard.

From draft night trades to surprising picks, the first night of the three-day event was nothing short of non-stop drama that kept football fans on the edge of their seat. Even the speed of the first several picks was exciting, as some teams had zero to debate or discuss when their clock started.

2022 NFL Draft Trades

On day one, we saw nine trades in a draft that featured none in the top ten picks. For months, the narrative has been that this class was lacking in top-tier talent, and I only had five top-ten grades on my final big board with three of them being right on the borderline.

In hindsight, the 32 teams agreed as we saw each of the top ten selections made without an exchange of picks. While teams in the top ten may have wanted to move down, those behind them had no interest in moving up for their favorite prospect.

Still, when the 11th pick was on the clock, we had three-straight trades in a matter of minutes. With a pair of receivers coming off the board at eight and ten, New Orleans and Detroit shot up the board to get their favorite pass-catcher, and the action kicked into high gear.

Veteran Receivers on the move

Speaking of pass catchers, one of my pre-draft questions involved a group of receivers seeking extensions before this fall, and whether or not they’d be traded. While we heard reports of A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel, and Terry McLaurin being advised to hold out until they got their big payday, the first receiver that came off the board in that 2019 draft was the first to be shipped out.

I’m not sure if Marquise Brown planned to try and strong-arm Baltimore into an extension this offseason. Still, ever since Jacksonville lit the powder keg with a massive deal for Christian Kirk, receivers have been pushing to get their piece of the pie.

Brown was shipped to Arizona, followed by the jaw-dropping news that A.J. Brown was on his way from Tennessee to Philadelphia, where a four-year, $100 million extension was waiting for him.

NFL Draft Observations from Day 1: Winners and Losers
Credit: David Becker/Getty Images

Day 1 NFL Draft Winners

In addition to the trades, we saw a number of NFL team strike gold when their number was up, including several that made multiple selections in the first round. While not every team that picked more than once has their fan base swooning, quite a few were on cloud nine on Thursday night.

New York Giants

The Giants didn’t budge and got two players that many had as the top two in this class for most of the past year. Yes, I dropped Thibodeaux from my top spot to six after reports of him being highly focused on his self-image.

After seeing a rather disappointing pattern of development in his career, I deducted that the two were connected. Still, if he is focused on football and winning games, he can be a special player.

Neal held down the second spot on my board for most of the past year, and though Aiden Hutchinson jumped him, the two had very similar grades. That’s a heck of a draft haul for new GM Joe Schoen, who appears to be building this team from the inside out. Oh, and he got them at five and seven.

New York Jets

The Jets hit a home run on day one, grabbing three players I had ranked in the top 17. I was right on the mark about them taking Ahmad Gardner and Garrett Wilson, and then they jumped back into day one to bring Jermaine Johnson’s draft-night slide to an end.

Getting three quality prospects early in the NFL Draft is good, and the fact that all three had first-round grades is even better. Still, what makes this a monster haul is all three play premium positions.

Joe Douglas got his hands on a shutdown corner, a top-two target in the passing game, and an edge rusher that is not a liability against the run. If those three play up to their ability, this is a franchise-shifting trio, and they still have two days left.

Baltimore Ravens

I am still shocked that the Ravens stayed put at 14 and got Kyle Hamilton. Sure, they were probably a little soar at Philadelphia for jumping them to take Jordan Davis, but the consolation prize was a player that I gave a top-ten grade.

While not every team values safeties the same, Hamilton has the skill set to be a difference-maker for a defense that needed some youth. Then, after trading Marquise Brown to Arizona, they dropped back a few spots to pick up an early fourth-rounder while still getting a guy I thought they’d consider at 14.

Just like safety, center is a position that not everyone values the same. However, the Ravens needed a difference-maker up front, and they got one in Tyler Linderbaum. He’s a plug-and-play guy for Baltimore and a future leader on that offensive line.

Don’t forget the obvious winners

It’s rarely seen as a first-night win when the teams picking at the top of the board get their guy. However, Jacksonville and Detroit did more than just take a pair of top-ten talents. Yes, the Jaguars took a player with freakish physical gifts that gives Walker the most upside of any prospect in this class.

Still, they also jumped back into the first round and got my eighth-ranked player in linebacker Devin Lloyd, who will be a star for them the moment he steps into the building. Bravo.

As for Detroit, they had the best player fall in their laps, and it just so happens that Hutchinson played his college ball less than an hour away, giving him face-of-the-franchise appeal to that fan base. Next, they jumped up from 32 to 12 to take Jameson Williams, who would have gone in the top ten had he not torn his ACL in the National Championship.

Both teams got two building blocks to their franchise, as their four selections were all ranked in my top 18 prospects. That’s what bad teams must accomplish in the draft.

green bay Packers Draft Grades Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt Picks
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Day 1 NFL Draft Losers

It’s hard to call anyone a loser on a day when they acquired a promising young prospect. Still, there are some that failed to capitalize on an opportunity to improve in a better way than the path they chose.

Green Bay Packers

Let me start by saying I love what Devonte Wyatt brings to this team, and I thought they’d take him at 22 if he was still around. They got him at 28. That’s excellent value and gives this defense another terrific player in their front seven.

Still, it was a move that was too late to win over most Cheese Heads after they’d already been let down. When the run on talented receivers started, the Packers needed to be the ones leading the charge to get up.

Maybe they did try their hand at getting to 11 or 12, but they failed despite having 11 picks in this NFL Draft. That’s unacceptable from a franchise that needed to get their star quarterback a top pass-catcher. Instead, they reach for a linebacker with promising physical gifts but underdeveloped instincts.

I would have loved the pick if they had gotten Quay Walker with one of their late second-rounders. Still, there is a reasonable chance that those instincts never show up, and they took him at 21.

RELATED | Day 1 Green Bay Packers Draft Grades

Aaron Rodgers

I’m not going to feel sorry for Rodgers, as part of Green Bay’s failure to get a top pass-catcher rests on his shoulders. You don’t gripe about wanting the team to add pieces around you and use that argument in a trade demand, only to leverage it to get a record-setting contract.

If you want the pieces around you, you sacrifice money to ensure that it happens. Maybe the extra money wouldn’t have kept Devante Adams around, but it would come in handy with a plethora of wide receivers forcing their way onto the trading block.

Now, if Rodgers’s ultimate goal was the money, I’m not going to blame him for taking it. However, don’t tell the fanbase that you want one thing when your actions ultimately prove you wanted something else.

The Packers have one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, and father time is circling the block. You have to move up to get him a top-tier weapon, especially considering their recent playoff failures.

The pressure is on Rodgers and the Packers to get back to Super Bowl Sunday. This receiving core is a detriment to that goal, with Rodgers’s legacy hanging in the balance.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys were victims of a draft board that saw six offensive linemen taken before they picked at 24. However, that doesn’t excuse them for reaching on Tyler Smith. Yes, he has first-round gifts, but he’s a long way from showing the technique necessary to make the most of those gifts, and ultimately, I’m not sure he can play tackle in the league.

I get that Dallas wanted an offensive lineman, but you can’t force it. The last two years, they hit home runs on guys like CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons because they were the best player on the board.

The Cowboys weren’t desperate for a receiver or linebacker in those drafts, but the value was too good to pass up. Devin Lloyd or Tyler Linderbaum make this team better on day one.

While Smith may make this team better in the future, you can’t guarantee he will develop the technique necessary to play at a high level in this league. If you want to address the position that bad, you have to spend the picks to move up and get quality. Otherwise, you have to let it go and find value with the pick.

New England Patriots

Yet, another team reaching on an offensive lineman, and let me be clear, I don’t hate the players. If the Patriots had taken Cole Strange at 54 (or even 85), I would have liked the pick. The same goes for Dallas and Smith. If they take him at 56, I’m fine with it.

Strange and Smith now have first-round expectations attached to their careers, and there is a strong chance they can’t live up to them. Sure, you’d love athletes to block out the outside expectations, but, in this day and age, that’s nearly impossible.

Fortunately for New England, Strange has the technical ability to help right away, even if I don’t see the upside of a high-level player. They were also able to pull third and fourth-round picks out of Kansas City when they moved back. That helps too.

I’ll add that I’m not buying the excuse that someone might have taken Strange before the Patriots’ next pick. I don’t want to hear that if they traded down again, someone might have grabbed him.

You don’t get tunnel vision in this process because value often goes right out the door. If you’re not getting value with your draft picks, you are falling behind in the NFL.

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