We’re now over a week removed from the 2022 NFL draft, and rookie camps have just started to kick off. So it is a good time to ask our NFL expert panel to weigh in on some of the biggest lingering questions. That includes what our writers and analysts liked, what they didn’t like and more, as they debate the notable picks of Rounds 1-7.
While we didn’t see many quarterbacks come off the board early, we did watch numerous future stars join new pro teams. Through a record-setting series of trades, teams moved up and down the board to land top prospects or acquire more draft capital to seek out late-round steals. Some moves will work out. Some moves won’t. Our panelists evaluated the new crop of rookies as things stand right now, answering questions about their favorite picks, the biggest head-scratchers, Rookie of the Year picks and more.
Jump to see the answers for all eight questions, which we have rolled out throughout the week:
What is your best bold prediction for the rookie class?
Stephania Bell, fantasy football analyst: Chris Olave will finish the season as a top-20 wide receiver in fantasy. Any receiver with 32 touchdown catches over his final 31 collegiate games at a big-time program deserves attention, even more so when that receiver has the potential to walk into a feature role. It’s tough to have confidence in the Saints’ Michael Thomas at the moment, since he hasn’t played a down since January 2021 as a result of ankle issues, and his status for the start of the season is uncertain. That opens up opportunities for Olave. In our first fantasy mock draft of the season, the rookie went 86th overall (WR37) to yours truly, so the boldness of the call speaks for itself.
Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: Colts receiver Alec Pierce will lead all rookies in touchdown receptions. The best red zone threat in this draft class, Pierce has the leaping ability and body control at 6-foot-3 to finish on fade balls, along with the foot speed to run the slant routes. He should develop quickly into a top target for quarterback Matt Ryan in the low red zone area of the field.
Mike Clay, fantasy football writer: Wide receiver Justyn Ross will make the Chiefs’ 53-man roster. He surprisingly went undrafted, but not for a lack of talent, as teams seemed to be concerned about his medicals. Prior to his neck/spine surgery in 2020, Ross posted 46-1,000-9 and 66-865-8 receiving lines and was one of the top receivers in the nation. In fact, his career 3.0 yards per route run was best in this year’s rookie class. Ross now finds himself in an elite offense but also one in need of help at wideout. The Clemson product has a real shot to make the cut.
Tristan H. Cockcroft, fantasy football writer: Running back Tyler Allgeier will run away with the Falcons’ starting job, finishing among the top 20 in his position in PPR fantasy points. He fits Atlanta coach Arthur Smith’s scheme and has a wide-open path to the role following the release of Mike Davis. Cordarrelle Patterson might seem like a passing-down threat, but I see Allgeier as more of a factor there than others do, especially after he emerged with 24 catches for 178 yards over his final nine career games with BYU.
Jeremy Fowler, national NFL writer: Malik Willis will be Tennessee’s starting QB by season’s end. The Titans are clearly planning for Ryan Tannehill contingencies, and though Willis will spend most of the year learning, his talent is undeniable. And coaches say he’ll work hard enough to learn an NFL playbook and expedite the learning curve. Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel isn’t afraid to make bold decisions. If playing Willis is right, he’ll do it.
Dan Graziano, national NFL writer: Along the same lines, Desmond Ridder will replace Marcus Mariota as Atlanta’s starting quarterback by the end of the season. I don’t know. You asked for bold. Ridder seems annoyed by how late he was picked, so perhaps that drives him.
Doug Kezirian, sports betting analyst: Travon Walker will actually meet expectations and validate Jacksonville’s roll of the dice with the No. 1 pick. What if the combine numbers translate and we all realize that Kirby Smart just utilized Walker a certain way that minimized the edge rusher’s conventional stats at Georgia?
Eric Moody, fantasy football writer: Kenny Pickett will finish as a top-20 fantasy quarterback. His 16 300-yard passing games and five 400-yard passing games are each the most in Pitt history, he threw for 102 TDs and he added 20 career rushing touchdowns. The production is there. He has a chance to beat Mitch Trubisky for the Steelers’ starting job this summer, and with players such as Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and Pat Freiermuth in the mix, Pickett could have some streamer appeal.
Matt Miller, NFL draft analyst: Skyy Moore will lead the Chiefs in receiving yards. Tight end Travis Kelce is still the No. 1 threat and will lead the team in catches and touchdowns, but Moore will become a favorite target for quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the underneath passing game and on vertical stretch plays once coverage breaks down.
Jordan Reid, NFL draft analyst: This year’s QB class will have three starters by midseason. Pickett will beat out Trubisky in training camp, Ridder will take over for Mariota, and with Carolina coach Matt Rhule on the hot seat, Matt Corral will be forced into action earlier than expected. With only one QB drafted in the first two rounds, the NFL showed us all that it thought this year’s class was underwhelming. But despite most passers being drafted later than expected, there are some visible paths to early playing time.
Mike Tannenbaum, NFL front-office insider: Despite many big-time playmakers getting drafted in Round 1, second-rounder Christian Watson will be the breakout star of this WR group and make Packers fans quickly forget about Davante Adams. Watson will become a top difference-making receiver by the end of September.
Seth Walder, sports analytics writer: Broncos edge rusher Nik Bonitto will be in the Defensive Rookie of the Year mix. He is a good long-shot (60-1) bet. With Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory ahead of him, Bonitto’s path to playing time isn’t perfect — but if he’s on the field, the sack upside is absolutely there. Bonitto is on a good team that figures to be ahead in a lot of games, and he led the FBS in pressure rate last season, beating out Kayvon Thibodeaux and next year’s potential No. 1 overall pick in Will Anderson Jr.
Which rookie could win you your fantasy league this season?
Bell: Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons. Fantasy football success is predicated on a combination of talent and opportunity, and there’s no denying that London has both. Given the path open to him in Atlanta, London should easily pace this rookie class in targets, a fantasy-relevant metric since every wide receiver who averaged at least 7.5 targets per game last season went over 12.5 fantasy points per game. The quarterback situation may not be ideal, but the sheer volume could have London challenging for a top-30 finish at the position.
Bowen: Treylon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans. With A.J. Brown out of the mix in Tennessee, Burks has the skill set to fit the Titans’ passing game. Think of the quick-game passes and in-breakers off play-action, which will maximize Burks’ catch-and-run ability, or the slot fades to let him get loose at the third level. Burks is a powerful receiver at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, and the Titans can also scheme touches for him on fly sweeps and screens. There’s volume and production here.
Clay: Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons. From 2011-21, 13 WRs were selected in the top 10 of the draft, and 10 of those 13 appeared in at least 12 games. Of those 10, only Tavon Austin (2013) was not a top-30 fantasy WR as a rookie. The other nine all saw 90-plus targets and averaged a target share of at least 19%. History is on the side of eighth overall pick London, who will immediately slide in as Atlanta’s No. 1 wide receiver.
Cockcroft: Skyy Moore, WR, Kansas City Chiefs. This is always a debatable question, and for me, there’s a difference between “best overall” and “best value.” Moore isn’t going to go as early as London, Burks, Breece Hall, Ken Walker III or perhaps even Garrett Wilson or Christian Watson, but he’s not really in much less of a position to thrive in fantasy as a rookie than any of them. Moore was a great get by the Chiefs in the mid-second round, and he’s sure to be a big part of a potent offense led by some guy named Patrick Mahomes. If Moore sneaks into the final 50 picks of your ESPN standard draft, you need to be the one getting him.
Fowler: George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are known for getting the best out of Day 2 receivers in their rookie years. JuJu Smith-Schuster went for 917 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie in 2017, and Chase Claypool‘s nine-touchdown campaign followed in 2020. Pickens is an immense talent with breakout potential.
Graziano: Breece Hall, RB, New York Jets. It’s unclear exactly how the roles will be split between Hall and the incumbent RBs on the Jets’ roster, but this offense can make a star out of a running back, and Hall has big-play ability that could win you a lot of fantasy football weeks if he gets the ball enough.
Kezirian: Treylon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans. This is all about opportunity, and he slides right into a great situation after the Titans traded Brown. Tennessee still sees itself as a contender and Burks is a guy who can make plays with so much focus being on running back Derrick Henry.
Moody: Breece Hall, RB, New York Jets. There are never enough fantasy-relevant running backs to meet managers’ demands, and Hall is a versatile running back who can help the Jets both as a runner and a receiver. In each of the past two seasons, he rushed for at least 1,400 yards and 20 touchdowns. Plus, Hall recorded career highs of 36 catches, 302 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns during his final collegiate season. In the Jets’ running back by committee, he could get 250 or more touches this season.
Miller: Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers. No other rookie wide receiver is going to a better situation in terms of quarterback and expected target share. Watson’s speed, size and post-catch ability will get him (and you) a ton of points.
Reid: Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons. Outside of tight end Kyle Pitts, the Falcons are starved for weapons. London is likely to excel in the red zone early in his career, just as he did during his time at USC. Stepping in as Atlanta’s unquestioned No. 1 receiver, London should be a high-volume catcher and consistent point-scorer beginning in Week 1.
Tannenbaum: Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons. He was a point-scorer in college, and that will continue in the pros. Think Mike Evans‘ physicality and production in the red zone — that’s what we’ll be seeing from London for years to come.
Walder: James Cook, RB, Buffalo Bills. For where you have to draft him, Cook has some real upside as a back on a high-powered offense with serious receiving potential. That last part is key: Given the way the Bills play, they aren’t going to hand the ball off to a running back a ton. But pass a bunch to one? That is definitely in the cards.
Who is a midround pick who will have fantasy value in 2022?
Bell: Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but there are opportunities aplenty in Houston. Ahead of Pierce on the running back depth chart are just Marlon Mack (only seven games total over the past two seasons) and Rex Burkhead (turns 32 in July, only one season with 100 touches on his résumé). Pierce averaged 5.5 yards per carry during his four seasons at Florida, and he enters the league with an NFL-ready build, minus the extreme wear and tear (just 374 college touches).
Bowen: Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans. A downhill hammer with the contact balance to rip through tacklers, Pierce can emerge as a volume ball carrier for the Texans. And the rookie will give you something in the passing game, too, catching the ball on swings and underneath throws to bump his fantasy profile.
Clay: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Los Angeles Chargers. Austin Ekeler has said he’d prefer a backfield running mate, and Spiller has a shot to be that guy right out of the gate. Spiller is very young, but he’s big and elusive, and he’ll be working in a high-scoring offense. Oh, and if Ekeler misses time? Spiller has little to no competition for 15-plus touches per game in that case.
Cockcroft: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Los Angeles Chargers. I’m not a Joshua Kelley believer, and Larry Rountree III is coming off a disappointing rookie campaign. So the next-in-line role behind Ekeler, one of the more important in the league, is wide open for the taking. Heck, Spiller could even serve as a change-of-pace back to Ekeler right away. Assuming he sticks in the No. 2 spot on the depth chart, he’ll wind up one of my few mandatory “insurance policy” picks.
Fowler: Tyler Allgeier, RB, Atlanta Falcons. I’ll give you some late-round action here. The release of Mike Davis opens a lane for Allgeier to have a first-year impact. Falcons coach Arthur Smith loves power backs, and that’s Allgeier’s game at 224 pounds. And Cordarrelle Patterson, the top back on the depth chart, could see time at receiver.
Graziano: David Bell, WR, Cleveland Browns. Assuming the Browns don’t re-sign Jarvis Landry, Bell should slide into the slot WR role right away and catch a bunch of passes from Deshaun Watson, Jacoby Brissett or whomever starts the most games at QB in Cleveland this year.
Kezirian: Jelani Woods, TE, Indianapolis Colts. New Colts quarterback Matt Ryan has a tendency to lean on his tight end, and Woods could be a total sleeper. Woods is 6-foot-7 with a wingspan of 82 inches. Good luck defending this third-round pick in the red zone.
Moody: Keaontay Ingram, RB, Arizona Cardinals. Ingram replaces Chase Edmonds, who averaged 13.3 touches last year and signed with the Dolphins during the offseason. With his rushing and receiving skills, Ingram can help Arizona fill this void. James Conner was re-signed after a fantastic 2021 season, but Ingram may have huge fantasy potential in 2022 given Conner’s injury history.
Miller: Tyler Allgeier, RB, Atlanta Falcons. Pierce is probably my answer here, but I wanted to highlight Allgeier in the power-run scheme of Arthur Smith. Patterson will get a lot of the play in Atlanta, but Allgeier has the power and bulk to be an effective goal-line back who could poach some touchdowns from the rest of the offense.
Reid: Jalen Tolbert, WR, Dallas Cowboys. Amari Cooper is gone, and Michael Gallup is recovering from a torn ACL, so Tolbert arrives in a situation where he’s likely an instant contributor. CeeDee Lamb is the obvious top option, but Tolbert could find himself as the No. 2 target on the perimeter earlier than expected.
Tannenbaum: Alec Pierce, WR, Indianapolis Colts. Paired with Ryan at QB, Pierce will continue his physical/productive ways. I love Pierce’s ball skills and production. He had eight receiving TDs last season at Cincinnati, and he’s well positioned for more production with the Colts.
Walder: Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans. Just look at who he’s fighting for playing time: Mack, Burkhead, Dare Ogunbowale and Royce Freeman. That’s an awfully clear path to a starting job for a midround back, especially given that Houston is a rebuilding team looking for young talent.
Who is your early pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year?
Bell: Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers. Some believe the Packers will lean run-heavy in this Davante Adams-less offense. But if that happens, it will represent a departure from what their MVP quarterback prefers. So why not stick with the winning formula and project Watson to earn most-favored-receiver status? It’s certainly possible assuming he and Aaron Rodgers develop a quick chemistry, even if it’s born of necessity. Watson is tall and fast, a deep threat molded in the image of Marquez Valdes-Scantling (also no longer with the Packers), and he provides an appealing target for a guy who has thrown for over 4,000 yards in all but one of his complete seasons.
Bowen: Ken Walker III, RB, Seattle Seahawks. With a pro running style and the sudden speed to create explosive plays, Walker has the ability to play a productive, volume role in Seattle as a rookie. He will have an opportunity to get plenty of carries in the Seahawks’ run-heavy system.
Clay: Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons. Plain and simple, the Falcons don’t really have a choice but to force-feed the ball to their new No. 1 wide receiver. History tells us that top-10 wide receivers are almost always major factors right out of the gate, and London is unlikely to be the exception. London, who is 6-foot-4, will almost assuredly be busy near the goal line as well, which will only help his push toward OPOY.
Cockcroft: Treylon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans. Burks is a natural replacement for A.J. Brown — even swapped for the very pick used to select the rookie — and he fits the Titans’ need for a yards-after-the-catch receiver (largely created by the Brown trade). Burks should immediately join the starting lineup of an offense that should be better with a healthy Derrick Henry. He has the skills to emerge as the best of this year’s loaded receiving class.
Fowler: Ken Walker III, RB, Seattle Seahawks. Seattle will be dedicated to the running game and will force-feed Walker, whom it considered a top-20 overall player in this draft. Chris Olave also is a strong candidate here, as Jameis Winston will target him early and often in New Orleans.
Graziano: Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers. So many wide receivers to choose from, but give me the one whose quarterback is the reigning MVP and whose unquestioned No. 1 wide receiver got traded this offseason. It’s a big jump for Watson from FCS ball to the NFL, but he has the talent to make it. If he can earn Rodgers’ trust early, the first-year numbers could be huge.
Kezirian: Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets. He was hand-picked to be the main option for Zach Wilson, and that’s why he is among the favorites here at 8-1 odds (Caesars Sportsbook). This is a position that has been able to make an immediate impact and contend for this award, as we have recently seen with Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. Wilson’s situation is conducive, and of course, the New York market can only help.
Moody: Treylon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans. Burks is positioned for success with the Titans, especially since Brown is now an Eagle. Tennessee led the league in rushing attempts last season (32.1). However, the Titans do have the second-most available targets (351) and air yards (2,914) entering the 2022 season. Burks — like Brown — has the ability to threaten opposing defenses vertically and after the catch, and he will be able to collect a ton of stats during his rookie year.
Miller: Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers. Rodgers desperately needs a new favorite target and Watson has elite speed with a 6-foot-5 frame. He is raw coming out of the run-first North Dakota State offense, but his ability to create after the catch and his mismatch size in the red zone will have him targeted often.
Reid: Treylon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans. With Brown gone, those touches he accumulated throughout three seasons have to now be spread out somewhere. Burks is a do-it-all player who likely will be used in a multitude of ways. On the depth chart, he won’t have to fight for touches with anyone else besides Robert Woods.
Tannenbaum: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers. Pickett should be a Day 1 starter and has a great head coach, offensive line and running back. He is set up for instant success and is experienced enough to minimize the challenges that come with being a rookie QB.
Walder: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers. Realistically, quarterbacks are held to a lower standard to win this award than other positions. Think about 2020: Jefferson was clearly a better receiver than Justin Herbert was at quarterback, but Herbert won the award. If Pickett can win the starting job and be decent, he has a great shot.
Who is your early pick for Defensive Rookie of the Year?
Bell: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, Houston Texans. These awards often reward rookies who are thrust into a talent-needy situation. So where better for Stingley to land than Houston? There is nowhere to go but up for a franchise that was in the bottom six in scoring defense, yards per play, yards per game, pressure rate and just about every other metric last season. Stingley, who already showed at his pro day that he has recovered well from Lisfranc surgery, will seek to prove the Texans made the right choice in drafting him third overall, ahead of Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner.
Bowen: Devin Lloyd, ILB, Jacksonville Jaguars. With Lloyd’s position flexibility and playmaking chops, Jags defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell can set him up to patrol the second level, blitz or rush off the edge. Lloyd is a three-down defender with the physical tools to create an instant impact.
Clay: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, Houston Texans. Cornerbacks tend to be hit or miss and struggle for interceptions as rookies, but Stingley has a shot to be an exception. The super-talented third overall pick should immediately step into an every-snap role. And he will be in a division with the quarterbacks who ranked first (Trevor Lawrence), sixth (Ryan Tannehill) and 14th (Matt Ryan) in interceptions last season.
Cockcroft: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, New York Giants. Thibodeaux is a ferocious pass-rusher, with 19 sacks and 34.5 tackles for a loss in his three seasons at Oregon — something the rebuilding Giants sorely needed. Thibodeaux gives new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale a strong complementary piece to second-year Azeez Ojulari on the edge. And if he comes even close to reaching his ceiling as a rookie, Thibodeaux might well run away with the honor.
Fowler: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Detroit Lions. Detroit, with a scarcity of high-impact players on defense last year, was thrilled Jacksonville passed on Hutchinson. He has the high motor and strength that will facilitate early production. And watch for Kansas City corner Trent McDuffie to make splash plays in the AFC West.
Graziano: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Detroit Lions. This award is going to go to someone who gets a lot of sacks or interceptions, and Hutchinson looks to have the skills to start piling up sacks right away in Detroit’s defense. Jacksonville passed on him because it thought Walker had the higher ceiling, but Detroit was thrilled to get him at No. 2 because it felt like he could help right away.
Kezirian: George Karlaftis, DE, Kansas City Chiefs. I am going off the grid with a 20-1 longshot. While I touted his “over” on his draft prop, I do think the circumstances are conducive to posting solid numbers with pass-rushing opportunities in Kansas City. He didn’t test well but does find ways to make plays.
Moody: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, New York Giants. Among this year’s draft class, he is one of the most talented players. With Oregon, Thibodeaux collected 19 career sacks — which is tied for the seventh-most in school history. Since the start of 2019, he has had 34.5 career tackles for loss, the fifth-most among Power 5 players. With Martindale at the helm of an aggressive defense, Thibodeaux is likely to step into a starting role for the Giants and wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines.
Miller: Kyle Hamilton, S, Baltimore Ravens. It’s very rare for a safety to win postseason awards, especially as a rookie, but Hamilton has the instincts and playmaking ability to produce the type of three-down stats (tackles, interceptions, sacks) to get the nod.
Reid: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, New York Giants. Stepping into a situation where he will be one of the lone sack artists on the team, Thibodeaux will be expected to be a key contributor right away. Historically, this is an award that goes to defensive ends because of the production that they are able to put up right away. When I think of the Giants, I think of former first-level defenders like Lawrence Taylor, Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. Thibodeaux enters into a rich history of players who have been successful for the franchise.
Tannenbaum: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Detroit Lions. Hutchinson is a talented player with a relentless motor. He will be a Day 1 starter who plays the run well and should have double-digit sacks on a regular basis.
Walder: George Karlaftis, DE, Kansas City Chiefs. I’m looking for sacks here, and I like Karlaftis’ situation to get them. First, the Chiefs needed pass-rushing help, so there is a clear path to playing time. Second, the Chiefs are likely to be winning most games, which forces opponents into passing situations. And third, the Chiefs will face sack-happy Russell Wilson twice and have scheduled games against other high-sack-rate QBs like Joe Burrow and Ryan Tannehill.
Which rookie class will make the biggest impact in 2022?
Bell: Buffalo Bills. The Bills entered the draft without many needs. But the “impact” of a rookie class should elevate the team to the next tier, which for Buffalo is the Super Bowl. The names added at the draft weren’t splashy, but the Bills added depth that could be critical to surviving a long season. They added a complement to cornerback Tre’Davious White and an interior linebacker to potentially plug a leak in their otherwise strong defense. This team, aided by their newbies, has a good shot to bring Buffalo its long-awaited title.
Bowen: New York Jets. Robert Saleh’s team needed a real boost in talent, and I believe their top four picks will all contribute this season. Corner Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner has the traits to match up to boundary receivers in Saleh’s defense. Garrett Wilson is a dynamic receiver with playmaking ability after the catch. And defensive end Jermaine Johnson II has top-10 pass-rushing traits. Plus, running back Breece Hall brings three-down ability to the Jets’ offense. This is a strong class in New York.
Clay: Houston Texans. Houston had four of the first 44 picks and turned them into what should be starters at cornerback (Derek Stingley Jr.), guard (Kenyon Green), safety (Jalen Pitre) and — once fully healthy — wide receiver (John Metchie III). The Texans’ five Day 3 picks could also be factors, especially fourth-rounder Dameon Pierce, who is stepping into one of the league’s shakiest running back rooms.
Cockcroft: Kansas City Chiefs. I’m tempted to say the Jets’ first four picks give them the edge. But I’ll go with the Chiefs, who also picked up four prospective starters: CB Trent McDuffie, DE George Karlaftis, WR Skyy Moore and OT Darian Kinnard. Moore and Kinnard were pretty solid values for where they went, and the team added valuable depth with its other six selections.
Fowler: Green Bay Packers. Instead of looking for quick fixes in free agency or via trades, Green Bay is all-in on this draft to produce immediate results. Wide receiver Christian Watson will get every chance to create chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. First-round defenders Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt will be immediate producers. And late-round picks (pass-rusher Kingsley Enagbare and safety Tariq Carpenter) are sleepers to crack the rotation.
Graziano: New York Giants. When picking at both No. 5 and No. 7, you really should nail it. It’s hard not to be excited about the two guys the Giants got in the first round. Evan Neal should be able to handle starting at right tackle right away. And while Kayvon Thibodeaux might need time to refine his overall pass-rush game, he should be able to contribute right away — on third downs, if nothing else. Is Wan’Dale Robinson redundant for a team that already has Kadarius Toney? I say Brian Daboll must have some ideas about how to use them both along with Kenny Golladay and the rest of Daniel Jones‘ receiving crew. Don’t be surprised if third-round corner Cordale Flott plays some in his rookie year, too. The Giants need plenty of help.
Kezirian: New York Jets. The offense added two likely starters in Hall and Wilson, and the defense landed Gardner and Johnson. Johnson might be incredibly impactful, after earning ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors at Florida State. It’s hard to make a case for any other team unless it’s measured in wins because the Jets could still be a ways away in the AFC East. Following the draft, Caesars Sportsbook moved the over on their 5.5 wins from -115 to -150, which implies a likelihood of 53% to 60%. One thing to remember is that they had all that draft capital when Caesars posted -115, so how the Jets used those picks drove the price even higher.
Moody: New York Jets. Considering the draft capital the Jets entered the draft with, the players they were able to acquire exceeded many expectations. They should see some results right away with this class. With the addition of players such as Gardner, Wilson, Johnson and Hall, New York has improved on both sides of the ball.
Miller: Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens had a fantastic top-to-bottom 2022 draft and will see an immediate payoff from it. First-rounders Kyle Hamilton and Tyler Linderbaum will both be rookie starters, but DT Travis Jones, RT Daniel Faalele, CB Jalyn Armour-Davis and TE Charlie Kolar will also play early roles and have starter potential. And don’t forget punter Jordan Stout, who will also have an impact on Day 1.
Reid: New York Jets. They have potentially four immediate starters with their first four picks in Gardner, Wilson, Johnson and Hall. GM Joe Douglas understood that his team needs more wins, and this class has the potential to lead Saleh and his staff to more wins.
Tannenbaum: Detroit Lions. I think the Lions drafted two of the three best players in the 2022 draft class — Aidan Hutchinson and Jameson Williams — and they both have All-Pro potential. I loved the move up the draft board in the first round from No. 32 to No. 12 to get Williams. If healthy, he is the best receiver in the class.
Walder: New York Jets. I don’t think the Jets had the perfect draft (trading up for Hall? Yikes). But they did have a tremendous amount of draft capital and used it to select players at premium positions in the first round. Wilson, Gardner and Johnson represent a serious infusion of talent that ought to help immediately.
Field Yates, NFL analyst: New York Jets. I admire the Jets’ draft haul and believe in the prospects they wound up with, while also believing fundamentally that a draft class with four players in the first 34 picks should be bound to outperform almost any other. It would not surprise me if Gardner figures prominently into the Defensive Rookie of the Year race, while the same can be said for running back Hall on the offensive side.
What was your favorite pick in the entire 2022 draft?
Bell: OT Bernhard Raimann to the Colts at No. 77. The Colts upgraded at quarterback this offseason by way of Matt Ryan, but the offensive line is still a work in progress and critical to his success, given that he’s not exactly fleet of foot. Matty Ice has been below league average when pressured over the past three seasons in TD rate, interception rate and sack rate. And just last year, the Colts allowed pressure at the seventh-highest rate (32.1% of dropbacks). So the 6-foot-6, 303-pound Raimann — who had the mobility to play tight end — was a huge value pick in the third round and will continue to develop at the position.
Bowen: S Kyle Hamilton to the Ravens at No. 14. With his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame and top-down speed, Hamilton can play a disruptive role in the Ravens’ system. Look for new coordinator Mike Macdonald to deploy the versatile rookie at multiple levels of the field to create on-the-ball production.
Clay: WR Skyy Moore to the Chiefs at No. 54. Stuck with a void at wide receiver after trading away Tyreek Hill, Kansas City might have found Patrick Mahomes‘ long-term No. 1 target late in the second round. Moore has huge hands and good speed, and he can line up all over the field — a staple of Andy Reid’s scheme. Moore was heavily targeted (32% target share) and reliable (four drops on 256 targets) at Western Michigan, and he has a shot to play an immediate every-down role in one of the league’s best offenses.
Cockcroft: RB Breece Hall to the Jets at No. 36. Everyone seemed to love the Jets’ draft, myself included, and making the call between Hall and No. 26 overall pick Jermaine Johnson II — whose value there seemed an absolute steal — was a tough one. While I don’t love the move in fantasy football terms — one-two running back punches are more headache than helpful — I do love the fit for Hall. He is a better fit to be the team’s primary running back than Michael Carter. He will take some of the pressure off sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson and better balance the offense.
Fowler: WR John Metchie III to the Texans at No. 44. This is a player NFL coaches liked as a first-round talent, but he was underplayed in the pre-draft process due to his ACL recovery. The Texans are the perfect team to prioritize an injured player because they are at least a year away and can be patient with him. Once at full strength, Metchie will prove his worth as a top option for quarterback Davis Mills.
Graziano: S Daxton Hill to the Bengals at No. 31. Look, my answer is probably Hamilton, but I have to think he’s going to be a popular one, so let’s pivot here and highlight what I thought was a really smart value pick by the defending AFC champs. The Bengals see Hill as a Swiss Army knife-type of defensive back who can play safety, slot corner and basically whatever else they need him to do in their secondary. They hit the offensive line hard in free agency, as they should have, but they had some holes to fill on defense, too. Hill can help them fill whatever those turn out to be. And he’s not a bad leverage play for the team in case Jessie Bates III‘s contract dispute continues to linger.
Kezirian: WR David Bell to the Browns at No. 99. I was actually going to say Hill, given he is a slot safety and will provide tons of flexibility, but Graziano stole my thunder. Regardless, I think Bell will have a long and productive career. His measurables weren’t great, but he shines on the football field. Once he starts producing — just like he did in college — everyone will wonder how he fell to the third round and why 15 wideouts were drafted ahead of him.
Eric Moody: WR Skyy Moore to the Chiefs at No. 55. Kansas City fans were still reeling from the loss of Tyreek Hill but might have breathed a sigh of relief with the selection of Moore. His route-running ability is excellent, as is his ability to create space with route leverage. The explosive Chiefs offense is poised to terrorize defenses in the NFL for many years to come.
Miller: S Kyle Hamilton to the Ravens at No. 14. Hamilton was my No. 4 overall player in the entire draft class, so not only was this pick a great value for Baltimore, but it is also a perfect example of taking the best player available. Hamilton will be a leader and a three-down difference-maker for the Ravens’ defense.
Reid: ILB Nakobe Dean to the Eagles at No. 83. Linebacker play has been the Achilles’ heel for Philadelphia’s secondary for quite some time. The Eagles are sorely lacking a true leader in the middle, and Dean gives them a possible answer. GM Howie Roseman tends to neglect drafting linebackers early in the draft, but after Dean fell to the third round, the value was too good to pass up. Dean has a solid blend of pursuit speed, controlled aggressiveness and savviness in all parts of his game, and he has a chance to have an early impact for the franchise.
Tannenbaum: CB Trent McDuffie to the Chiefs at No. 21. Moving up in a deal with New England, Kansas City drafted an outstanding corner who has scheme versatility. McDuffie is effective in both man and zone coverages, and he shows instincts and toughness. I think he could be a top corner in the league.
Walder: QB Malik Willis to the Titans at No. 86. Even if there’s just a small chance Willis is a franchise-level QB, this is a worthwhile gamble for a team that might be in the QB market a year from now anyway. If it doesn’t work out, the cost wasn’t that significant. But if it does, there’s franchise-altering upside. That’s hard to find in the third round.
Yates: WR Jameson Williams to the Lions at No. 12. Absent his ACL tear in January, there’s virtually no chance Williams would have been available at No. 12. Since there’s no certainty of when he’ll return, I understood why teams that needed receiver help for Week 1 of this season might have been skittish on trading up for Williams in the event he’s not 100 percent until closer to the middle of the year. But Detroit is a team that can afford to be patient, and it didn’t surrender future draft capital to execute the trade up. I think Williams is a special player.
What was the biggest head-scratching pick of the draft?
Bell: WR Jameson Williams to the Lions at No. 12. Don’t get me wrong. I love Williams and the talent he will bring to the NFL. But the Lions have needs aplenty, which makes it hard for me to buy the logic of sacrificing picks Nos. 32, 34 and 66 for the chance to pluck Williams, a wide receiver just over three months removed from ACL reconstruction surgery. (Detroit did also get No. 46 back in the swap.) The hope is that the Lions are playing the long game and will be patient with his return-to-play status, especially given their other able pass-catchers, including receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, tight end T.J. Hockenson and running back De’Andre Swift.
Bowen: WR Tyquan Thornton to the Patriots at No. 50. Thornton has the vertical juice to stretch defenses down the field and the foot quickness to create route separation. But given the wide receiver talent on the board at No. 50 — including George Pickens, Alec Pierce and Skyy Moore — I felt the Patriots reached a little here to draft Thornton.
Clay: RB Ken Walker III to the Seahawks at No. 41. Seattle traded away quarterback Russell Wilson and is left with one of the league’s shakiest rosters. Yes, durability is a concern in the backfield, especially with Chris Carson‘s uncertain status. But this is not a franchise that should be prioritizing the league’s most replaceable position when it has so many other major needs.
Cockcroft: WR Wan’Dale Robinson to the Giants at No. 43. I feel like I complain about the Giants’ aggressiveness drafting wide receivers almost annually, and yes, this is probably the first time in years that I felt they should spend some draft capital on the position. Still, Robinson is a smallish, more slot-oriented wide receiver, and his lackluster combine numbers had him almost universally graded outside the position’s top 10 prospects. I know the Giants picked up fourth-round (Falcons) and fifth-round (Jets) picks in the process of moving down seven second-round spots, but if they did so feeling they could wait on wide receiver, why didn’t they then just take any of the higher-graded prospects (Skyy Moore, George Pickens or Alec Pierce)?
Fowler: WR Jahan Dotson to the Commanders at No. 16. Dotson should have a fine career, but teams I spoke to had him going in the range of No. 23-35. And it seemed clear that the top four receivers in this draft — Jameson Williams, Drake London, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave — were in their own class. The receiver run between picks Nos. 8 and 12 started and ended with them. Washington was in the thick of that run, picking 11th, before trading out. Dotson, despite his explosion, faces questions about his true position due to size (5-foot-11). Will he be a slot receiver or play on the outside?
Graziano: DE Travon Walker to the Jaguars at No. 1. Maybe they’re right and we’re wrong. Maybe taking the high-upside play on a guy who didn’t have a ton of college production was the right way to go in a draft that seemed to have a lot of people scratching their heads in advance. Maybe Walker will become a superstar who alters the course of Jaguars history and dominates the next decade in the NFL. All I’m saying is, I’d have a lot more faith in all those “maybes” if a team other than the Jaguars had done this. Because, folks, if you’re picking in the top 10 for the 15th time in 16 years, as Jacksonville was, it’s not because you’re good at it.
Kezirian: WR Wan’Dale Robinson to the Giants at No. 43. How did the Giants make this call? Robinson is 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, and it was a reach at No. 43. The Giants also whiffed on Kadarius Toney last year, and one would think they would shy away from another curveball. This just felt like another David Gettleman pick.
Moody: RB James Cook to the Bills at No. 63. I like Cook as a prospect. He has the play speed to create game-changing plays at the pro level, and he is a very capable runner in between the tackles and as a receiver out of the backfield. Nevertheless, Cook is eerily similar to Devin Singletary, the Bills’ current running back. Wouldn’t it be better to prioritize a back who can gain considerable yards after contact between the tackles?
Miller: WR Wan’Dale Robinson to the Giants at No. 43. Robinson is a fine player, but he’s more of a gadget guy right now than a polished wide receiver. That sounds a lot like last year’s first-rounder, Kadarius Toney. This was a luxury pick for a team that’s on a budget.
Reid: WR Velus Jones Jr. to the Bears at No. 71. Despite having two second-round picks, the Bears surprisingly waited until the third round to address arguably the biggest need on their roster. Jones is a dynamic and speedy vertical threat who had a breakout season during his final year at Tennessee as a receiver and return specialist. But he was viewed more as a Day 3 pick, and there were more well-rounded players at the position on the board in the third round including Jalen Tolbert, Khalil Shakir, Romeo Doubs and Calvin Austin III.
Tannenbaum: CB Derek Stingley Jr. to the Texans at No. 3. Houston drafted a talented corner with significant durability concerns. If healthy, Stingley can be great. But Ahmad Gardner was still on the board, and selecting him would have been the better decision in my opinion.
Walder: G Cole Strange to the Patriots at No. 29. One of the most obvious mistakes a team can make is drafting a player well before it needs to. It’s a waste of draft capital. By all indications the Patriots should not have worried about another team taking Strange until the late second round at the earliest (and more likely the third). Is it possible we outsiders misread the market on Strange? It is. But I’d say Sean McVay’s and Les Snead’s live reactions to the selection were awfully revealing.
Yates: TE Trey McBride to the Cardinals at No. 55. Candidly, my answer would be none of the picks. These teams work around the clock for a full year to get to draft weekend, and while it’s obvious that not all picks will work out, I can largely understand the “why” behind them. McBride was clearly the top tight end in this year’s class, but the reason I chose him here is that Arizona ran more sets with at least four receivers on the field than any other team in the NFL last year and made a steep investment in Zach Ertz. Unless the Cardinals are planning to evolve into a more two-tight end-heavy team, McBride might have to wait for playing time.