What we learned from the first round of the NFL Draft

The Jacksonville Jaguars kicked off the 2022 NFL Draft with a risky and counterintuitive selection that could bog the franchise at the bottom of the standings for years if it backfires.

In other words, it was the typical start to a typically unpredictable first round.

The Jaguars selected Georgia rusher Travon Walker with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Walker recorded just six sacks in the 2021 season for the College Football Playoff champions, but his 35.5-inch arms and outstanding results in athletic tests like the three-cone drill impressed the scouts during the pre-draft process, prompting the Jaguars to choose him. on higher rated and more accomplished prospects.

Walker may well have a deep reservoir of long-term potential, although the Jaguars may not be the best franchise to exploit it. Until the team proves otherwise, if opponents protect their quarterbacks by stashing him behind cones or atop a high shelf, the Jaguars are ready.

Walker’s selection set the tone for what became a big night for rushers, offensive linemen, cornerbacks and wide receivers, but very quiet for quarterbacks.

Aidan Hutchinson, who is increasingly less athletic than Walker but has 14 sacks in 2021, fell to the Detroit Lions at second pick. The Lions then traded up to 12th overall to select Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams. Lions ultra-macho coach Dan Campbell couldn’t have been happier with the first-round results if he’d dropped a nine-point dollar using nothing but a determined air.

Louisiana State cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green were picked third and 15th overall by the Houston Texans, as close as a prospect can get to the bottom of the l scale of a multi-level marketing program.

The Jets and Giants, each with two top-10 selections, shockingly passed the night without making any glaring, potentially catastrophic errors. The Jets selected Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner fourth and Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson 10th, then traded for Florida State point rusher Jermaine Johnson II at 26th. The Giants selected Oregon edge runner Kayvon Thibodeaux fifth and Alabama guard Evan Neal eighth.

Gardner is 6-foot-3, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds, and has a cool nickname, Sauce, the three prerequisites of a top cornerback in the NFL. Wilson combines pure speed with road racing made up of two parts Cooper Kupp and one part Bob Fosse. If Wilson needs three jukes to open, he makes three jukes, but some reviewers worry because when Wilson needs one juke to open, he makes three jukes. Johnson recorded 11.5 sacks in 2021 after transferring from a Georgia program that produced five first-round selections on Thursday.

Thibodeaux was a consensus All-America selection in 2021 and one of the top defensemen in the nation for three years. However, NFL gossip has taken an unexplained dislike of him this offseason, dropping him below Walker and Hutchinson on the draft board. Justin Herbert, now a Pro Bowl quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers, faced similar vague whispers upon leaving Oregon in 2020. It should be noted that NFL scouting departments are still full of men who think anyone who chooses to play in the Pacific Northwest above Alabama or Texas must be a dirty hippie.

Neal is a typical high-level offensive line prospect who looks and moves like a video game boss. He should be able to protect Daniel Jones from everything but himself.

Complete the top 10:

  • The Carolina Panthers selected North Carolina State tackle Ikem Ekwonu at No. 6: a surprising move, as the Panthers needed to select a quarterback to replace Cam Newton, who turned out to be a bad one replacement for Sam Darnold, who was a poor replacement for Teddy Bridgewater, who was a poor replacement for Cam Newton.

  • The Atlanta Falcons, who needed a salary cap write-off so badly they donated longtime quarterback Matt Ryan to 1-877-QBS-4-COLTS, selected the California wide receiver from the South Drake London with the eighth pick.

  • The Seattle Seahawks, who became a needy team after trading Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, selected Mississippi State tackle Charles Cross ninth overall to block Drew Lock, Geno Smith or anyone they can. find in later rounds.

A flurry of receiver-involved trades marked the middle of the first round, with the Arizona Cardinals acquiring Marquise Brown from the Baltimore Ravens for the 25th overall pick, and the Philadelphia Eagles trading the 18th overall pick to the Titans of Tennessee against receiver AJ Brown. San Francisco wide receiver Deebo Samuel was not traded despite an open search for a trade.

The New Orleans Saints traded a slew of picks over the next three years in a series of deals to move up the ranks to select Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave at No. 11, then added the tackle of Northern Iowa Trevor Penning with the 19th pick. The Saints also worked their way out of salary cap purgatory this offseason by turning many of their veterans’ contracts into reverse mortgages. By 2024, Olave and Penning could be the only players the team can afford to keep.

One team that neither traded nor drafted a receiver was the Green Bay Packers, who selected Georgia linebacker Quay Walker and Georgia defensive end Devonte Wyatt with the 22nd and 28th picks, the former of which they acquired by trading Davante Adams in Las Vegas in March. . That rumble you hear on the horizon is Aaron Rodgers temperament.

Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett ultimately became the only quarterback selected when the Pittsburgh Steelers made him the 20th overall pick. He will be heir apparent to retiree Ben Roethlisberger if he can snatch a starting job from journeyman Mitchell Trubisky. It’s both a low bar and a big “if”. Liberty’s Malik Willis was not drafted Thursday night, despite speculation that he could be in the top 10.

Most analysts considered this year’s quarterback crop to be sparse, which is why many NFL teams creatively filled the job earlier this season: by trading for Wilson, Deshaun Watson or Carson Wentz (we said creative, not necessarily advised); mortgaging their budget and their dignity for Rodgers; postponing the filing of Tom Brady’s retirement documents; find peace and acceptance with Jones for another year.

Notably absent from Thursday night’s proceedings: the Rams themselves, who don’t plan to make a first-round selection again until the draft takes place at a colony on Mars.

About Teresa G. Wilson

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