As expected, the 2022 NFL Draft was every bit as wild and unpredictable as we thought. The big story of the weekend was how little the league valued this QB class, which we knew going into the draft, but it was extremely pronounced as the selections played out.
Between the wild trades, player movement and other unpredictable elements there were some teams that absolutely shined and maximized every pick. Unfortunately for others, they leave Las Vegas only slightly better than they entered, while rivals inside their divisions took huge leaps forward. Here are the final grades for every team in 2022.
Best pick: Trey McBride, TE (55)
Worst pick: Myjai Sanders, EDGE (100)
The biggest part of the Cardinals draft was trading for Marquise Brown. I love that this team got help for Kyler Murray and prioritized it, but I’m a little mystified they didn’t address their defensive backs until much later in this draft.
Best pick: Desmond Ridder, QB (74)
Worst pick: Troy Anderson, LB (58)
From top to bottom I like what the Falcons did. Drake London is the perfect WR to pair with Kyle Pitts and cause matchup nightmares, and Arnold Ebiketie is an extremely good pass rusher who was great value. The cherry on the top of this class was getting Desmond Ridder, who could have been a first round pick as far as I’m concerned.
Best pick: Kyle Hamilton, S (14)
Worst pick: None
There’s no need to overthink this one. The Ravens had the best draft in the entire league, and it’s not even close. This team got four first round talents with their first round picks in the draft, and managed to trade back in the process. This team kept picking up sliding talent and danced around everyone else.
Best Pick: Kaiir Elam, CB (23)
Worst pick: Terrel Bernard, LB (89)
This was a fine class. Nothing really blew me away, but I liked the selection of Kaiir Elam. Too many people undervalued the Florida cornerback, and he’s going to fit right in to the Bills’ bruising, non-nonsense defense.
Best pick: Ikem Ekwonu, OT (6)
Worst pick: TBA
There is no doubt the Panthers got a huge win in the first round by having the top of the draft break in a way that allowed them to get Ikey, but we also have to acknowledge that Sam Darnold is a part of this class by virtue of trading a second and third round pick. It’ll be interesting to see if Matt Corral can develop, but overall the excellence of the first round gives way to a lack of selections in a deep draft that could have helped this team.
Best pick: Kyler Gordon, CB (38)
Worst pick: Velus Jones, WR (71)
It was a lean draft for the Bears who gave up assets last year to move up and take Justin Fields. I really liked their secondary selections in Gordon and Jaquan Brisker, but I would have rather seen this team get a weapon for Fields. Instead they waited a little too long and were forced to reach for Velus Jones, a 25-year-old rookie who best projects to being a special teams player with little offensive input.
Best pick: Daxton Hill, S (31)
Worst pick: Cordell Volson, G (136)
The Bengals did most of their work in free agency to address their biggest needs, so this class was more about gravy for them. I really love their selection of Daxton Hill at the back end of the first round, where they recognized it was better to go with a hybrid safety who can offer support in the nickel, instead of reaching for the next best cornerback. Outside of Hill, the Bengals reached a little with a lot of their picks and didn’t go BPA.
Best pick: Perrion Winfrey, DT (108)
Worst pick: Martin Emerson, CB (68)
The Browns did a lot of good with the mid-late round picks they had. The pickup of Perrion Winfrey in the fourth round was inspired, and he could easily become a starter for the Browns within a couple of years. This was a very unsexy draft, that really comes down to Deshaun Watson and how that decision will play out.
Best pick: Jalen Tolbert, WR (88)
Worst pick: Jake Ferguson, TE (129)
I like Dallas’ decision to take Tyler Smith in the first round more than a lot of people, and based on the board and their need on the offensive line it was a solid pick. Tolbert is the steal of the Cowboys’ class, and he’s a lot better than many receivers who went before him. The decision to select Jake Ferguson is a little puzzling to me. He’s a reliable catcher, but has a pass blocking body — and he’s not especially great at blocking. Could develop, sure, but they reached majorly for him.
Best pick: Nik Bonnito, EDGE (64)
Worst pick: Damarri Mathis, CB (115)
The Broncos had a wonderful draft with the limited selections they had. This was a very BPA-oriented group of players who fill needs now, and into the future. I see three potential starters in this group, and when you don’t have a first round pick that’s a huge boon. Overall very solid work, even if it feels a little unremarkable right now.
Best pick: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE (2)
Worst pick: Kerby Joseph, S (97)
Simply stunning work here by the Lions, who were huge winners in this draft. Luck at the No. 2 spot allowed them to take the best, most-reliable pass rusher, and then by jumping back up and fleecing the Vikings they took the receiver with the best chance to be elite. Yes, if you’re doing the math that means Detroit has a very real chance to end up with the best defensive player in the draft, and the best skill position offensive player as well. The rest of the class is fine, but getting Hutch and Jameson Williams makes this a win.
Green Bay Packers
Best pick: Christian Watson, WR (34)
Worst pick: Quay Walker, LB (22)
Thank god the Vikings allowed Green Bay to trade up and bail them out, because this class was ugly otherwise. Christian Watson has huge potential to become a stud, but both Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt will turn into mediocre, wasted picks. There was some nice depth in the later rounds, but this draft was largely a failure in terms of making this team better, which is terrible when you enter with two first round picks.
Best pick: Derek Stingley Jr, CB (3)
Worst pick: Tegan Quitoriano, TE (170)
I wasn’t a huge fan of the Texans after day one, but in totality I now think this team did a stellar job. Their class is littered with BPA picks, and this team needed talent at every position. I personally liked Sauce Gardner better than Stingley Jr, but it’s a minor quibble — because both players will be great. Top to bottom I really love what this team did, even if I would have rolled the dice on Malik Willis of Desmond Ridder if I were Houston because their upside is far greater than Davis Mills.
Best pick: Bernhard Raimann, OT (77)
Worst pick: Jelani Woods, TE (73)
The Colts got a huge steal in the third round with Raimann, who I had a first round grade on. Yes, he’s raw, sure he’s only been playing offensive tackle for two years — but there’s a fight and willingness to learn that allowed him to take leaps and bounds in college. That will continue in the NFL and he’ll become an above-average starter. The decision to take Jelani Woods is a little confusing after just committing money to Mo Alie-Cox in free agency. It’s not a bad pick, just a little puzzling.
Best pick: Devin Lloyd, LB (27)
Worst pick: Travon Walker, EDGE (1)
I’m struggling to see past what was a colossal error at the top of this draft. There’s a chance Travon Walker could become a dominant player, but both Aidan Hutchinson or Ikem Ekwonu (and playing him at RT) would have been far better decisions to make this team better, with less risk in the future. I really liked the move to jump up and get Devin Lloyd, a linebacker in that Luke Kuechly/Bobby Wagner mould who will be a field general and offer much-needed leadership.
Kansas City Chiefs
Best pick: Skyy Moore, WR (54)
Worst pick: None
There wasn’t a lot of talk about this Chiefs class, but it was quietly brilliant. This team addressed its biggest needs, found value throughout the rounds, and pulled off a steal by getting Skyy Moore late in the second round. I’m very high on Moore, who I thought the Chiefs could take in the first round as a replacement for Tyreek Hill. Top to bottom this was a great class.
Las Vegas Raiders
Best pick: Dylan Parham, OG (90)
Worst pick: Neil Farrell, DT (126)
The Raiders’ aim was to use their selections to trade for established talent, rather than select players. They feel there’s a window, and want to use it. I don’t hate that approach, but this was a very quiet, ho-hum draft that is about depth and hopefully unearthing some rotational talent. Decent, but unremarkable.
Los Angeles Chargers
Best pick: Isaiah Spiller, RB (123)
Worst pick: J.T. Woods, S (79)
This team is on the cusp of becoming a force, and needed lots of help on both sides of the line to do it. I liked the Zion Johnson pick in No. 1 as a player, but felt there were better players on the board. I also really like picking up Isaiah Spiller as a steal, when many believed he was the best running back in this class. However, Los Angeles left addressing the defensive line far too long, and didn’t maximize their picks.
Los Angeles Rams
Best pick: N/A
Worst pick: Decobie Durant, CB (142)
The Rams are in win-now mode and have little time or effort for the draft while they sign players and trade for them. It shows. I don’t like anything they did with their selections, and feel they were reaches for need vs. BPA. Like I said, this era isn’t about the draft for the Rams, but that doesn’t mean they did well.
Best pick: Channing Tindall, LB (102)
Worst pick: Either 7th round pick
Miami didn’t select until the third round because of their trades, but they got a good player in Channing Tindall. I do think it’s a huge problem that they didn’t get a decent offensive lineman, even with their limited picks. It was the biggest area of need for Mike McDaniel’s new-look offense, and they might regret not addressing it. With such a lean class there wasn’t really a “worst” pick, but both their 7th rounders were going to be UDFAs.
Best pick: Andrew Booth, CB (42)
Worst pick: Ed Engram, OG (59)
I don’t know what to say, except I’m sorry Vikings fans. I’ve never seen a team work this much and achieve so little in a draft. It’s tricky, because I actually like Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth, and think they both make Minnesota better — but the issue is that these are guys I expect staple playoff teams to select, not a 6-10 team with the No. 12 pick.
The Vikings got fleeced in their trade with the Lions. They threw the Packers a lifeline and let them trade up to get a wide receiver. This team made their division rivals better while not getting top-tier talent.
New England Patriots
Best pick: Pierre Strong, RB (127)
Worst pick: Bailey Zappe, QB (137)
Nothing will make you doubt yourself like a Patriots draft. It’s impossible to predict anything. There are times they make these weird picks like Cole Strange and they turn into All-Pros, then others when they flame out and we kinda ignore it because of Bill Belichick’s brilliance. That said, this was a fairly weak draft. I like the value of Strong, but I’m really confused taking a fourth round quarterback to be a backup for Mac Jones.
New Orleans Saints
Best pick: Trevor Penning, OT (19)
Worst pick: D’Marco Jackson, LB (161)
Initially I wasn’t a huge fan of the Saints moving up to take Chris Olave, but after seeing the way the first round went, it was the right move. This team came away with two great players in the first round at positions of need, which is exactly what they needed to do after moving to get a second first round pick. The rest of the draft as a little lackluster, but it’s defined by those first two selections.
New York Giants
Best pick: Evan Neal, OT (5)
Worst pick: Cordale Flott, CB (81)
I absolutely love what the Giants did in the first round. Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal is a legendary haul worthy of the No. 5 and No. 7 picks. From there this draft went a little off the rails. If this team continued that early run into the later rounds of finding great value they’d be up with the Ravens as the winners of this draft. Instead it was almost like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde show where they reached for a lot of players, made some mid-to-late round head scratchers and didn’t maximize their position. STILL, when you get two Pro Bowl caliber players you’re going to get very high marks.
New York Jets
Best pick: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE (26)
Worst pick: Max Mitchell, OT (111)
I’m stunned. This class was damn near perfection from the Jets. I believe they ended up with four first round talents, and just kept finding value down the entire board. Jermaine Johnson II is slightly ahead for the value they found on the trade up, but honestly you could pick Johnson II, Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson or Breece Hall and make a convincing argument why each was the best pick. This was a franchise-defining class, and it has the strength to bring the Jets back into relevance.
Best pick: Nakobe Dean, LB (83)
Worst pick: Grant Calcaterra, TE (198)
This was a huge haul for the Eagles, especially when you factor in that they managed to trade for, and extend A.J. Brown. Philadelphia got better on both sides of the offensive line, picked up mega value in Nakobe Dean, who is going to be a difference maker despite his size, and really maximized their picks to improve in major ways. Great draft.
Best pick: George Pickens, WR (52)
Worst pick: Kenny Pickett, QB (20)
This could have been an absolute home run of a draft, but the Steelers read the room wrong in the first round. There’s no doubt QB was a major need, but being the only team to select a QB in the first two rounds shows a misunderstanding of the draft board. As much as I dislike the Pickett selection considering how the rest of the draft went, this team got a few great players in George Pickens, Calvin Austin III and DeMarvin Leal. I like this draft overall, but pick usage could have been better,
San Francisco 49ers
Best pick: Drake Jackson, EDGE (61)
Worst pick: Tyrion Davis-Price, RB (93)
I’m really not sure what to make of this draft. I’ve looked at the class over and over again, mulling over place and position — something isn’t clicking. Normally I can view picks as being somewhere on the need vs. BPA spectrum, but outside of Drake Jackson it’s tough to see how this all meshes together. I actually really like Jackson, who is raw but naturally gifted and develop into a really nice pass rusher. Outside of that, I’m not really seeing the aim. Maybe this comes together in a few years, but right now I see a whole lot of players that could struggle to get meaningful time in the Niners’ rotation.
Best pick: Charles Cross, OT (9)
Worst pick: None
I have zero problems with anything the Seahawks did in this draft. The team had a clear understanding it needed to improved its roster at every position but quarterback, and nailed the draft. I admire Seattle having an understanding of its position in a post-Russell Wilson rebuild, as well as knowing a QB-rich 2023 draft is around the corner. The Seahawks found value all over each round and have positioned themselves to rebound quickly as soon as they find a passer.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Best pick: Cade Otton, TE (106)
Worst pick: Rachaad White, RB (91)
The Bucs understood this was a deep draft, dropping back and securing more picks. I like a lot of what they did, and some other picks were head scratchers. However, in the end they got three starting caliber players (Hall, Goedeke and Otton) in a draft where they didn’t pick until the second round. That’s a solid class for a team this good to begin with.
Best pick: Malik Willis, QB (86)
Worst pick: Chigoziem Okonkwo, TE (143)
If you remove Malik Willis from this class, it’s still a good draft for the Titans. Add him in, and this was a coup. Trading A.J. Brown is definitely a tough pill to swallow, but I like getting Treylon Burks on a rookie deal — because they’re similarly skilled. Roger McCreary and Nicholas Petit-Frere were nice value picks and I’m a fan with almost all of the selections the Titans made.
Best pick: Sam Howell, QB (144)
Worst pick: Jahan Dotson, WR (16)
I’m really not a fan of the picks Washington made this weekend. Picking up Howell in the fifth round was really nice value, and he could be an average starter in the NFL. Outside of that, I hated how much the Commanders reached in this draft. I know they traded back and got some more picks, but Dotson was big reach at No. 16 considering the myriad needs this team had — and there was no further mitigation by taking more receivers in case Dotson isn’t everything they hope he’ll be.