The Sports Nerd’s NFL Draft Class Rankings

Photo Credit: AP

The 2022 NFL Draft came to an end yesterday, and all 32 NFL teams came away with a brand-new crop of rookies to develop.

There were many different storylines that came about throughout the draft. The Round 1 run of the top receiver prospects may have forced teams like the Cardinals and Eagles to take a different approach and trade for big-name receivers. The quarterback class this year was severely undervalued, resulting in teams getting great values on potential future starters. The pre-draft process saw talents with raw athleticism once again be drafted higher than they should have been, while more established talents saw their stocks fall. Now, with all 262 picks made official, we can start evaluating the classes each team got.

Let me preface by saying that these early grades are by no means a be-all, end-all for how a team performed over the last few days. The real impact of these classes won’t truly be felt until a few seasons down the line, but that doesn’t make these rankings obsolete. These rankings are based more on how adequately each team filled their own needs, whether the team got the best talent available at the time of their selections, and whether each team’s pick or trade is in-line with their short and long-term plans.

With that said, let’s begin.

1. Baltimore Ravens (A+): Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton (1-14), Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum (1-25), Michigan EDGE David Ojabo (2-45), Connecticut DT Travis Jones (3-76), Minnesota OT Daniel Faalele (4-110), Alabama CB Jalyn Armour-Davis (4-119), Iowa State TE Charlie Kolar (4-128), Penn State P Jordan Stout (4-130), Coastal Carolina TE Isaiah Likely (4-139), Houston CB Damarion Williams (4-141), Missouri RB Tyler Badie (6-196)

By trading an ill-fitting receiver in Hollywood Brown to Arizona, the Ravens were able to come away with two first-round picks. Hamilton is a consistent and versatile playmaker who should only add to arguably the best secondary in football, while Linderbaum has All-Pro potential at the center position. Ojabo’s torn Achilles and rawness as a prospect dropped him down, but reuniting with defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald and high school teammate Odafe Oweh should make the transition a bit smoother for him when he returns. Jones was a borderline first-round talent in my opinion, and he strikes me as someone who can be the next great Ravens defensive tackle. Day 3 was also great, with the Ravens either landing potential future starters (Faalele and Armour-Davis), tight ends who fit the offense (Kolar and Likely), or depth at important positions (Williams and Badie). The Ravens had a great balance of quantity and quality, and this should be a draft Baltimore fans remember for a long time.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (A+): Georgia DT Jordan Davis (1-13), Nebraska C Cam Jurgens (2-51), Georgia LB Nakobe Dean (3-83), Kansas LB Kyron Johnson (6-181), SMU TE Grant Calcaterra (6-198)

Part of the Eagles’ high grade comes from acquiring and extending WR A.J. Brown, who gives Jalen Hurts a legitimate WR1 to throw to. A three-headed receiving monster of Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert should have fans excited. The picks the Eagles did make were equally as good, starting with Davis. While his tape mostly shows a potentially-elite run stuffer, his athletic profile indicates he can be an every-down defensive mauler. Jurgens was a slight reach, but his favorable comparisons to longtime center Jason Kelce make him a natural choice for the heir apparent. Dean was one of my favorite picks of the draft, getting a first-round value out of a third-round pick. The medical issues are cause for concern, but the Eagles have lacked a playmaker out of the linebacker position for too long to let Dean slide by any more. Johnson should be a reserve linebacker and core special teamer, while Calcaterra will be a good red-zone complement to Goedert. Not only that, but Philadelphia’s undrafted free agent haul came loaded with draft-worthy prospects like Carson Strong, Josh Jobe, and Mario Goodrich. Howie Roseman did a great job this draft, and his performance might have gotten him back in some Eagles fans’ good graces.

3. New York Jets (A): Cincinnati CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (1-4), Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson (1-10), Florida State EDGE Jermaine Johnson II (1-26), Iowa State RB Breece Hall (2-36), Ohio State TE Jeremy Ruckert (3-101), Louisiana T Max Mitchell (4-111), Texas A&M EDGE Michael Clemons (4-117)

For the first time in what feels like an eternity for Jets fans, they have a draft class worth celebrating. They lucked out by getting both the class’s top corner and receiver in Gardner and Wilson, respectively, then trading back into the first round to select a falling top-15 talent in Johnson. With their three big needs addressed, the team went with a luxury pick next and traded up to land the class’s top running back in Hall. While trading up for a running back seemed like an odd decision, there’s no denying Hall’s explosive playmaking ability and elite athletic profile. Ruckert also seemed odd after the Jets picked up C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin in free agency, but he should still be someone worth the development time. Bonus points could be rewarded if offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur can turn Ruckert into his new version of Kyle Jusczyzk, as the former has flashed similar ball skills to the league’s premier H-back. Mitchell and Clemons should be solid backups at worst, and viable starting options at best. I’m genuinely intrigued by the vision that Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh have for this Jets squad; here’s hoping that ownership has the patience to see it through.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (A): Washington CB Trent McDuffie (1-21), Purdue EDGE George Karlaftis (1-30), Western Michigan WR Skyy Moore (2-54), Cincinnati S Bryan Cook (2-62), Wisconsin LB Leo Chenal (3-103), Fayetteville State CB Joshua Williams (4-135), Kentucky OT Darian Kinnard (5-145), Washington State CB Jaylen Watson (7-243), Rutgers RB Isaih Pacheco (7-251), Marshall S Nazeeh Johnson (7-259)

Sensing that they won’t be winning too many shootout-style games against their AFC West rivals, the Chiefs made an effort in this draft to bolster their defense on all levels. McDuffie is on the smaller side, but his production and awareness have always been great. He should be a good replacement for Charvarius Ward, and it helps that the Chiefs have done a great job of unearthing talent in the secondary. I’m not as high on Karlaftis as many other pundits, as his sack production was lacking for a first-round talent. His presence moves Chris Jones back to his natural position on the inside, but I have to wonder if Karlaftis would benefit from a similar move at the next level. Cook and Chenal will both earn key roles as designated run-stoppers early, while Williams and Watson should be versatile reserves for the secondary. Moore will be hard-pressed to replace Tyreek Hill on offense, but his presence means that Patrick Mahomes has another big-play threat the chuck the ball downfield to. Kinnard and Pacheco have the chance to be quality depth pieces on offense, as well. For the Chiefs to retain the AFC West crown, they had to prepare for offenses that got stronger in the offseason; this draft may have helped them accomplish that objective.

5. Seattle Seahawks (A-): Mississippi State OT Charles Cross (1-9), Minnesota EDGE Boye Mafe (2-40), Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III (2-41), Washington State OT Abraham Lucas (3-72), Cincinnati CB Coby Bryant (4-109), UTSA CB Tariq Woolen (5-153), Ohio State EDGE Tyreke Smith (5-158), Rutgers WR Bo Melton (7-229), Lenoir-Rhyne WR Dareke Young (7-233)

Seattle certainly had an idea of what their needs were, as their strategy consisted of doubling up on multiple positions. Cross will be Seattle’s starting left tackle from Day 1, and there’s a chance that the underrated Lucas grabs the other starting spot early. Mafe and Smith should add some explosion and energy to a pass-rushing group that could certainly use it. Walker’s selection was interesting with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny still on the roster, but his versatility and the injury issues of the veterans should allow him to carve out a valuable role quickly. Bryant and Woolen were both highly valuable Day 3 adds, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see at least one of them develop into a starting-caliber player. Melton is a candidate to be Tyler Lockett’s heir apparent, while Young is a worthy flier. The only knock I have here is that Seattle didn’t replace Russell Wilson or Bobby Wagner. Don’t be surprised if the Baker Mayfield chatter ramps up again.

6. New York Giants (A-): Oregon EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux (1-5), Alabama OT Evan Neal (1-7), Kentucky WR Wan’Dale Robinson (2-43), North Carolina G Joshua Ezeudu (3-67), LSU CB Cordale Flott (3-81), San Diego State TE Daniel Bellinger (4-112), Iowa S Dane Belton (4-114), Indiana LB Micah McFadden (4-146), Arizona State DT D.J. Davidson (5-147), North Carolina G Marcus McKethan (5-173), Cincinnati LB Darrian Beavers (6-182)

It’s easy to call the Giants a draft winner based solely off of their Day 1 selections. Thibodeaux has arguably the highest ceiling of any prospect in the class, and should give the Giants their first impact pass-rusher since Jason Pierre-Paul. Neal was widely considered the best offensive tackle in the class, and now he slides back into a right tackle position that he dominated in Tuscaloosa. Don’t be surprised if Neal and Andrew Thomas are among the league’s elite tackle duos in a year or two’s time. Day 2 is where things get dicey, as Robinson, Ezeudu, and Flott were all drafted likely a round higher than expected. However, all three fill needs in the Giants’ roster, so I’m more lenient to give the Daboll-Schoen regime the benefit of the doubt. Besides, their Day 3 selections saw serious values in Bellinger, Belton, McFadden, and Beavers fall their way, so that balances things out a bit. How the Giants did will likely depend on how those Day 2 pick develop, but Thibodeaux and Neal alone should make this a class worth monitoring.

7. Indianapolis Colts (A-): Cincinnati WR Alec Pierce (2-53), Virginia TE Jelani Woods (3-73), Central Michigan OT Bernhard Raimann (3-77), Maryland S Nick Cross (3-96), Missouri State DT Eric Johnson (5-159), Youngstown State TE Andrew Ogletree (6-192), Cincinnati DT Curtis Brooks (6-216), Yale S Rodney Thomas II (7-239)

After the Carson Wentz deal blew up in the Colts’ faces, GM Chris Ballard was going to have to deliver on this draft to make up for losing a first-round pick. I would say he accomplished that goal with his Day 2 picks. Pierce is another big-bodied receiver that the Colts seem to like, while Woods will slide in to recently-retired Jack Doyle’s spot in the lineup. Raimann was borderline first-round value for a third-round pick, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he starts at left tackle right away. Cross was another great pick who can play alongside free agent pickup Rodney McLeod and the returning Julian Blackmon. Day 3 was more focused on depth, but keep an eye out on Johnson and Brooks, who have the potential to be versatile defensive line pieces. Sometimes, all you can do is make the best out of a bad situation, and Indianapolis did just that.

8. Atlanta Falcons (B+): USC WR Drake London (1-8), Penn State EDGE Arnold Ebiketie (2-38), Montana State LB Troy Andersen (2-58), Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder (3-74), Western Kentucky EDGE DeAngelo Malone (3-82), BYU RB Tyler Allgeier (5-151), Georgia G Justin Shaffer (6-190), Georgia TE John FitzPatrick (6-213)

I agreed with the Falcons taking a receiver in Round 1, but London’s also the prospect who holds Atlanta out of the A range. He has a high ceiling like the other top receiver prospects, but a lower floor, which is a bit concerning for a team that’s rail-thin at the position. Ebikeite and Andersen are both high-upside prospects who fill holes on defense, while Malone gives the Falcons another chance to get a quality pass-rusher. Ridder drew comparisons to current Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota, and now he’ll get the chance to develop under him. His speed and processing ability were both on display throughout the pre-draft process, and giving him a year to learn an NFL offense will benefit him greatly. I’m not sure how I feel about their Day 3 picks, but if Allgeier gets anywhere close to a poor man’s Derrick Henry, that would go a long way towards making this class a success. It’s a class that has potential, but how London and Ridder develop will be paramount to Atlanta’s long-term success.

9. Detroit Lions (B+): Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson (1-2), Alabama WR Jameson Williams (1-12), Kentucky EDGE Josh Paschal (2-46), Illinois S Kerby Joseph (3-97), Virginia Tech TE James Mitchell (5-177), Oklahoma State LB Malcolm Rodriguez (6-188), Jackson State LB James Houston IV (6-217), Arizona State CB Chase Lucas (237)

While there are questions regarding Hutchinson’s ultimate NFL upside, he was still the home run pick for the home-state Lions. With a floor of a double-digit sack artist and a plus run defender, the Lions would be happy to get just that level of production. An odd inter-division trade with Minnesota also gave them a chance to grab Williams, who was my personal favorite receiver in the class. Despite an ACL injury in the National Championship game, Williams has been progressing well enough that he shouldn’t miss too much time, and he’ll add a new field-stretching element to the offense. Paschal and Joseph both have their question marks as prospects, but both are high-upside adds to a defense that needed help virtually everywhere. Mitchell, Rodriguez and Houston should also see time as quality depth pieces, with the latter two also having the athletic profile to emerge as special teams aces. I’m not sure how I feel about them skipping out on quarterbacks, but if they manage to land Bryce Young in 2023? Look out.

10. Arizona Cardinals (B+): Colorado State TE Trey McBride (2-55), San Diego State EDGE Cameron Thomas (3-87), Cincinnati EDGE Myjai Sanders (3-100), USC RB Keaontay Ingram (6-201), Virginia Tech G Lecitus Smith (6-215), Valdosta State CB Christian Matthew (7-244), Penn State LB Jesse Luketa (7-256), Oklahoma G Marquis Hayes (7-257)

The Hollywood Brown trade that cost the Cardinals their first-round pick was a risk, but it does have its upside. Brown now reunites with his college quarterback in Kyler Murray, and he now slides into the Christian Kirk role in Arizona’s offense. McBride was an odd choice with Zach Ertz and Maxx Williams on the roster, but tight ends typically take a year to develop. Expect him to see the field a bit in his rookie year as he learns how to be a quality NFL player. Both third-round edge rushers have their merits. Thomas has the production and physical comparisons to J.J. Watt to get the fans excited, while Sanders will be their first attempt to replace Chandler Jones. Their Day 3 picks were a bit hit-or-miss for me, but Smith and Luketa stand out as strong values. As much as I liked some of these picks, the success of this draft will come down to how Brown does with a change of scenery.

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (B+): Houston DT Logan Hall (2-33), Central Michigan G Luke Goedeke (2-57), Arizona State RB Rachaad White (3-91), Washington TE Cade Otton (4-106), Georgia P Jake Camarda (4-133), Sam Houston State CB Zyon McCollum (5-157), Minnesota TE Ko Kieft (6-218), LSU EDGE Andre Anthony (7-248)

The Bucs didn’t have many holes to fill, but they did manage to hit on some needs. Hall was a necessary pick with Ndamukong Suh still unsigned, and his style means he won’t clash with Vita Vea. I’d expect Tampa to use him all around the defensive line to ensure they can keep their best players on the field at all times. Goedeke’s experience as a tackle helped him out in the draft process, but he projects as a guard at the NFL level. With the Bucs having a soft spot for offensive line maulers and needing to fill the void left behind by Ali Marpet, this was a good choice. PPR fantasy league players need to circle White’s name on draft day. He was arguably the best receiver out of all the running backs in the class, and he stands to be the perfect complement to a pure runner in Leonard Fournette. Otton will be a good insurance policy if Gronk doesn’t return, and a good understudy if he does. The Bucs also needed help with punting, but I’m not sure why they went with Camarda over the more-hyped Matt Araiza. McCollum’s athletic profile make him a good small-school flier to take a chance on. The Bucs did a good job of getting the best value for what they had, so props to them.

12. Buffalo Bills (B): Florida CB Kaiir Elam (1-23), Georgia RB James Cook (2-63), Baylor LB Terrel Bernard (3-89), Boise State WR Khalil Shakir (5-148), San Diego State P Matt Araiza (6-180), Villanova CB Christian Benford (6-185), Virginia Tech T Luke Tenuta (6-209), Clemson LB Baylon Spector (7-231)

The Bills needed a corner opposite Tre’Davious White, and they got that in Elam. While the physicality could translate to penalties early in his career, his game should translate relatively well to the NFL. Cook is the pure speed merchant that the running back room in Buffalo lacked. He should be in line to take over third-down back duties and be a big-play threat whenever he touches the ball. Bernard’s size and tackling issues could push him to safety at the NFL level, but that might not be a bad thing with Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde approaching the latter phase of their careers. Sean McDermott would be smart to work on the transition now, as Bernard’s instincts could translate well to the new position. Shakir and Araiza were both great values at the points they were drafted, and both should become early fan favorites in Buffalo. Keep an eye on Benford, who has the physical profile necessary to carve out an NFL role. This wasn’t a great draft from the Bills, especially since the interior offensive line is still a bit messy, but they managed to tackle almost every other need adequately.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (B): Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett (1-20), Georgia WR George Pickens (2-52), Texas A&M DT DeMarvin Leal (3-84), Memphis WR Calvin Austin III (4-138), Michigan State FB/TE Connor Heyward (6-208), Ole Miss LB Mark Robinson (7-225), South Dakota State QB Chris Oladokun (7-241)

This class screams boom-or-bust to me. Pickett was a big riser up draft boards with his Heisman-winning season, but his hand size and less-than-ideal field processing makes him a difficult projection. There’s clear talent here, but there’s also serious bust potential. Pickens has flashed talent at Georgia, but medical issues and off-the-field red flags risked knocking him down lower. At best, he’s Pittsburgh’s new Antonio Brown; at worst, he’s Pittsburgh’s new Antonio Brown. Leal was a consensus first-round pick at the start of last season, but his tweener physical profile and rough final season knocked him down. The third round was a nice spot for him, but I don’t know where he stands at the next level. Austin has impressive deep speed, but I wonder if anyone in Pittsburgh’s QB room has the necessary arm strength to capitalize on that. Expect him to be a gadget player to start his career. Picks like Heyward and Oladokun were decent, but I wonder if there were other needs the Steelers could have tackled. I put the Steelers this high because there’s a good chance these risks pay off; I can’t put them any higher because there’s serious cause for concern here.

14. Cincinnati Bengals (B): Michigan S Daxton Hill (1-31), Nebraska CB Cam Taylor-Britt (2-60), Florida DT Zachary Carter (3-95), North Dakota State OT/G Cordell Volson (4-136), Toledo S Tycen Anderson (5-166), Coastal Carolina EDGE Jeffrey Gunter (7-252)

With the long-term future of the Bengals secondary up in the air, GM Duke Tobin decided to focus his draft capital there. Hill was a good safety/slot corner hybrid for Michigan, and he should see some time in Cincinnati’s secondary early. He’s the insurance policy if Jessie Bates leaves after this season. Taylor-Britt should replace Eli Apple in the starting lineup fairly quickly, and his upward trajectory at Nebraska should have fans excited. After that, there were a couple of reaches. Carter and Volson could both be alright prospects, but they were both drafted a round early and over better prospects at their positions. Anderson and Gunter were both good picks, though, and both should be rotational pieces on defense. It was a mixed bag for the Bengals, but Hill and Taylor-Britt should both be solid players coming from this class.

15. Los Angeles Chargers (B): Boston College G Zion Johnson (1-17), Baylor S JT Woods (3-79), Texas A&M Isaiah Spiller (4-123), UCLA DT Otito Ogbonnia (5-160), Georgia OT/G Jamaree Salyer (6-195), Wake Forest CB Ja’Sir Taylor (6-214), Ole Miss CB Deane Leonard (7-236), Purdue FB Zander Horvath (7-260)

After aggressively working to fix their defense in free agency, the Chargers continued their offensive line rebuild with the Johnson pick. Johnson tore up the Senior Bowl, showcasing his positional versatility and ability in run and pass protection. There may have been greater needs to fill in Round 3, but Woods gives Brandon Staley the ability to be more versatile with his schemes. Expect Woods to play the center-field safety role to better showcase his ball-hawking skills. Spiller was a good value in the fourth round, and he should be exactly what the Chargers are looking for in a running mate to Austin Ekeler. Ogbonnia adds another body to the defensive line, and the hope is that he can showcase his value in run defense to start his career. Salyer was a sixth-round steal who could either slide in at guard or right tackle for the Chargers in a year or two. Taylor will likely be in line for special teams duties, while Horvath serves as a sixth or seventh offensive lineman and short-yardage hammer. There are still a few questions that remain, but it’s hard to say the Chargers missed with any of these selection.

16. Denver Broncos (B): Oklahoma EDGE Nik Bonitto (2-64), UCLA TE Greg Dulcich (3-80), Pittsburgh CB Damarri Mathis (4-115), Iowa State DT Eyioma Uwazurike (4-116), Oklahoma S Delarrin Turner-Yell (5-152), Samford WR Montrell Washington (5-162), Washington C Luke Wattenberg (5-171), Wisconsin DT Matt Henningsen (6-206), Wisconsin CB Faion Hicks (7-232)

With the Russell Wilson trade taking their top two picks this year, the Broncos had to wait until the end of the second to make their first decision. Ironically, the pick they got in the Von Miller trade went to get his replacement in Bonitto. Bonitto is an effective speed rusher who landed in one of the best-fitting places he could have landed, so that should get Denver fans excited. Dulcich replaces Noah Fant, who went in the Russell Wilson trade to Seattle. He should compete with Albert Okwuegbunam for snaps, or the Broncos could decide to opt for two-TE sets to get both in there. Mathis adds depth to a cornerback room that needed it, and his great final season for Pittsburgh should open some eyes to what his potential is. Uwazurike and Henningsen could both move all across the defensive line, giving Denver some versatility in the trenches. Wattenberg is a nice insurance policy if Lloyd Cushenberry doesn’t develop and Quinn Meinerz works better at guard. Denver needed to fill a few holes to prepare for a potential run, and I think they did alright with what they had.

17. Minnesota Vikings (B-): Georgia S Lewis Cine (1-32), Clemson CB Andrew Booth Jr. (2-42), LSU G Ed Ingram (2-59), Oklahoma LB Brian Asamoah II (3-66), Missouri CB Akayleb Evans (4-118), Minnesota EDGE Esezi Otomewo (5-165), North Carolina RB Ty Chandler (5-169), Illinois OT Vederian Lowe (6-184), Michigan State WR Jalen Nailor (6-191), South Carolina TE Nick Muse (7-227)

The trades that the Vikings made to give division rivals in Detroit and Green Bay quality prospects were a bit confusing, but they did make the most of the picks they got. Cine got great production on a Georgia defense loaded with NFL-caliber players, and he’s arguably the best athlete at the position in this class. He’ll be a strong playmaking complement to Harrison Smith. The Vikings traded up to end the fall of Andrew Booth Jr., who was a first-round value in my opinion. Medical concerns knocked him to the second round, but Minnesota may have gotten another starter. Ingram’s off-field concerns are extremely valid, but he’s been relatively clean now for a few years. He’ll be perfect to open up running lanes for Dalvin Cook. Asamoah is a nice off-ball complement to Eric Kendricks, but I think I would have liked to see them take Nakobe Dean here. Doubling down at corner with Evans was a good idea, as it gives the Vikings depth at a position where they desperately need it. Chandler and Nailor are both speedsters at skill positions. Otomewo was an odd choice since he isn’t a great fit for the Vikings’ new defense, so he’ll have to transition to five-technique to stick. The Vikings came out of the draft with a few really good players, but they will mostly be remembered by the trades if Jameson Williams or Christian Watson pan out.

18. Tennessee Titans (B-): Arkansas WR Treylon Burks (1-18), Auburn CB Roger McCreary (2-35), Ohio State OT Nicholas Petit-Frere (3-69), Liberty QB Malik Willis (3-86), Michigan RB Hassan Haskins (4-131), Maryland TE Chigoziem Okonkwo (4-143), UCLA WR Kyle Philips (5-163), Tennessee CB Theo Jackson (6-204), Ole Miss LB Chance Campbell (6-219)

This draft for the Titans will hinge on the decision to trade AJ Brown to the Eagles and draft his replacement in Burks. Burks did draw comparisons to Brown, but there is work that has to be done in order to reach those levels. McCreary’s lack of length was the only reason he fell out of the first round. He has the speed and awareness to match up with receivers, but will he be forced into the slot due to his small arms? Petit-Frere is a good prospect who struggled against the Big 10’s elite pass-rushers, so there’s clearly room to grow. He’ll be a swing tackle that the Titans hope they can develop into Taylor Lewan’s successor. Willis in the third round was a steal. He can provide a whole different dimension to the Tennessee offense that Ryan Tannehill can’t, which could put him in the lineup in certain situations. Haskins is another power back who can spell Derrick Henry so they don’t tire out their All-Pro back too quickly. Okonkwo opened up some eyes with his athletic profile, and he’ll provide a field-stretching element to the offense opposite Austin Hooper. Philips is a candidate for slot receiver and kick return duties, while Campbell is an athletic linebacker who should be an effective special teams gunner. It’s a similar situation with the Vikings; good decisions all around, but the trades will be what defines this class.

19. Green Bay Packers (B-): Georgia LB Quay Walker (1-22), Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt (1-28), North Dakota State WR Christian Watson (2-34), UCLA OT/G Sean Rhyan (3-92), Nevada WR Romeo Doubs (4-132), Wake Forest C/OT Zach Tom (4-140), South Carolina EDGE Kingsley Enagbare (6-179), Georgia Tech S Tariq Carpenter (7-228), Miami (FL) DT Jonathan Ford (7-234), Penn State OT Rasheed Walker (7-249), Nebraska WR Samori Toure (7-258)

The Packers started the draft with a head-scratcher pick in Walker. While there was a need for a playmaking complement to De’Vondre Campbell, but I would have preferred to see them land Devin Lloyd. There were some off-field concerns for Wyatt that popped up late in the pre-draft process, but he’s the more versatile version of fellow Bulldog Jordan Davis. This may be a sign that the Packers are preparing for life without Kenny Clark, which could be a reality soon due to the cap situation in Green Bay. The Packers traded up to land Watson in the second, who’s an exciting player to monitor. While Watson has all of the intangibles to be a great receiver, is he ready to be the top receiver right out of the gate? Rhyan and Tom are both versatile offensive linemen who can play tackle if needed, but will likely be on the interior at the NFL level. Doubs and Toure add more bodies to a receiver room that desperately needed them. Enagbare and Walker were both steals, and I can see them both turning into key reserves as soon as this season. While the Packers had a fine draft, there are a lot of question marks that need to be answered sooner rather than later.

20. Cleveland Browns (B-): Mississippi State CB Martin Emerson (3-68), UAB EDGE Alex Wright (3-78), Purdue WR David Bell (3-99), Oklahoma DT Perrion Winfrey (4-108), LSU K Cade York (4-124), Cincinnati RB Jerome Ford (5-156), Oklahoma WR Michael Woods II (6-202), Oklahoma EDGE Isaiah Thomas (7-223), Texas Tech C Dawson Deaton (7-246)

The Browns sacrificed a lot of premium draft capital to land Deshaun Watson, which is a decision that will undoubtedly determine the franchise’s foreseeable future. Emerson’s ball skills are a work in progress, but he’s a good developmental option to take in the third round. The decision to trade Troy Hill indicates that they think highly enough of Emerson that they can build him up into a starting-caliber player. Don’t let Wright’s lack of premier competition fool you; he’s a legitimate combination of size and strength that can dominate opposing offensive linemen. Within a couple of years, he can emerge as a solid complement to Myles Garrett. Bell isn’t the most dynamic receiver, but the current group in Cleveland is already loaded with speed, so he doesn’t have to be. I liked both Oklahoma defensive linemen (Winfrey and Thomas) and thought both could have been drafted a round or two higher than they were. Ford seemed like an odd choice to add to a loaded backfield, and York’s selection isn’t helped with Cleveland’s poor track record of kickers they drafted. No prospect Cleveland drafted is likely going to develop into a superstar, but there’s a fair enough number of contributors here to warrant keeping them above C level.

21. Carolina Panthers (C+): North Carolina State OT Ikem Ekwonu (1-6), Ole Miss QB Matt Corral (3-94), Penn State LB Brandon Smith (4-120), Virginia Tech EDGE Amare Barno (6-189), Tennessee G Cade Mays (6-199), Baylor CB Kalon Barnes (7-242)

Outside of Ekwonu, who should be an instant starter at left tackle, much of Carolina’s draft is based around projection. Corral has an incredibly high ceiling to me, but an RPO-heavy scheme at Ole Miss and inconsistency make him a difficult prospect to gauge. He reminds me of a more accurate Josh Allen; the arm and mobility are all there, but it’s a matter of giving him time to read NFL defenses. Smith and Barno both have the athletic profiles that teams covet, but can defensive coordinator Phil Snow put them in the right spots to optimize them? Mays should be a decent offensive line reserve, while Barnes’s blazing speed should put him in line for return duties. The Panthers don’t get a B because the floor is as low as the ceiling is high, which isn’t exactly going to make Matt Rhule any more comfortable.

22. Dallas Cowboys (C+): Tulsa OT Tyler Smith (1-24), Ole Miss EDGE Sam Williams (2-56), South Alabama WR Jalen Tolbert (3-88), Wisconsin TE Jake Ferguson (4-129), North Dakota OT Matt Waletzko (5-155), Fresno State CB DaRon Bland (5-167), LSU LB Damone Clark (5-176), Arkansas DT John Ridgeway (5-178), Oklahoma State LB Devin Harper (6-193)

Part of the Cowboys’ grade comes from the fact that I liked their later picks more than their early ones. Smith was one of my least favorite picks in the first round, as he’s someone who faces a steep learning curve as an NFL tackle and could be better off transitioning to guard in the long run. The run-blocking ability is there and the youth is promising, but his technique isn’t first-round material. Williams has off-field issues, but the player he’s replacing in Randy Gregory was the same way. He put together his best season last year, but he’ll need to establish consistency quickly. Tolbert has the speed and ball skills necessary to be a good deep threat in the NFL. If Kellen Moore can help him with the nuances of the position, that could go a long way. Ferguson should serve as a nice in-line blocker complement to Dalton Schultz. Waletzko was a good choice for a developmental swing tackle. If he gets stronger, there’s a chance that the Cowboys have found their right tackle of the future. Clark won’t play in 2022 due to spinal fusion surgery, but he was a good choice in the fifth round. Bland, Ridgeway, and Harper are all quality depth pieces for the defense. Day 3 may have been the saving grace for the Cowboys, as I was not blown away with the rest of their draft at all.

23. Houston Texans (C+): LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr. (1-3), Texas A&M G Kenyon Green (1-15), Baylor S Jalen Pitre (2-37), Alabama WR John Metchie III (2-44), Alabama LB Christian Harris (3-75), Florida RB Dameon Pierce (4-107), Stanford DT Thomas Booker (5-150), Oregon State TE Teagan Quitoriano (5-170) LSU OT Austin Deculus (6-205)

As great as Stingley’s 2019 season was, he never got the chance to build off of it and now has some injury risks. It’s a great pick if it pays off, but it’s a huge gamble for a top-5 pick on a roster that needs almost everything. Green isn’t a bad prospect, but I preferred Tyler Linderbaum and Zion Johnson over him at this point. While Green has the ability to play tackle, he’ll almost certainly stay at guard in the NFL. Pitre was my favorite pick they made, as he’s a hybrid defender that NFL defensive coordinators love. He should instantly make the Texans more stout against the run, and his positional versatility is going to get him playing time right away. Metchie and Harris were both big risks to trade up for, whether due to injury concerns (Metchie) or rawness as a prospect (Harris). How the Texans develop both of them could determine how successful this draft was. Fantasy players should get to know Pierce. He was arguably the best running back at the Senior Bowl, and now finds himself in a backfield with little long-term competition. Booker will be a fine defensive line chess piece, while Quitoriano should serve as a sixth offensive lineman. Given how I was a fan of only one of the Texans’ first five picks, a low grade has to be given out.

24. Chicago Bears (C): Washington CB Kyler Gordon (2-39), Penn State S Jaquan Brisker (2-48), Tennessee WR Velus Jones Jr. (3-71), Southern Utah OT Braxton Jones (5-168), Miami (OH) EDGE Dominique Robinson (5-174), San Diego State OT Zachary Thomas (6-186), Baylor RB Trestan Ebner (6-203), Illinois C Doug Kramer (6-207), Southern G Ja’Tyre Carter (7-226), California S Elijah Hicks (7-254), North Carolina State P Trenton Gill (7-255)

The Bears draft confuses me. I want to like the selections of Gordon and Brisker, but they couldn’t have gone towards a receiver or offensive lineman to help Justin Fields? The secondary’s shored up for now, but at what cost? With all due respect to the player, I hate the Velus Jones selection. I know that he has amazing speed, but why are you drafting an older version of Darnell Mooney with better prospects still on the board? Braxton Jones, Thomas, Kramer, and Carter are all good developmental offensive linemen, so there’s that. I want to like this draft and the players they got early, but does it really help your franchise quarterback? I don’t know.

25. Los Angeles Rams (C): Wisconsin OT/G Logan Bruss (3-104), South Carolina State CB Decobie Durant (4-142), Notre Dame RB Kyren Williams (5-164), UCLA S Quentin Lake (6-211), Georgia CB Derion Kendrick (6-212), Montana State EDGE Daniel Hardy (6-235), Kansas State S Russ Yeast (7-253), Michigan State OT AJ Arcuri (7-261)

When this is your GM’s mentality towards premium draft capital, you can’t expect your team to do too much when the draft comes around. They tabbed another Wisconsin offensive lineman in Bruss to compete for the spot left by Austin Corbett. Durant should take Darious William’s slot corner role shortly, but it will be a steep learning curve for him. Williams has serious ball security issues, but he has the ceiling of a poor man’s Austin Ekeler. That’s good value for a fifth-round spot. Ditto for Kendrick in the sixth, who has cover skills but not the top-end speed you’d like to see in a cornerback. The Rams also like small-school edge rushers with good athleticism, so Hardy’s a good fit for them. Again, none of these picks will jump off the page, but winning the Super Bowl makes the lack of premium picks much easier to stomach.

26. Miami Dolphins (C): Georgia LB Channing Tindall (3-102), Texas Tech WR Erik Ezukanma (4-125), California LB Cameron Goode (7-224), Kansas State QB Skylar Thompson (7-247)

Tyreek Hill and trades from last season left the Dolphins without a pick in the top 100, so they would be hard-pressed to do anything notable. Tindall has sideline-to-sideline speed that will make him valuable. Expect him to show up on blitz packages as a rookie to play to his strengths. Ezukanma doesn’t have great speed or agility, but he brings size to a receiver room that lost a big target in DeVante Parker. Goode and Thompson are pure depth selections, nothing more. Tough to do much with just four picks.

27. Las Vegas Raiders (C): Memphis G Dylan Parham (3-90), Georgia RB Zamir White (4-122), LSU DT Neil Farrell Jr. (4-126), Tennessee DT Matthew Butler (5-175), Ohio State G Thayer Munford (7-238), UCLA RB Brittain Brown (7-250)

This may be a little harsh of a grade given that their first two picks landed them Davante Adams, but I can’t help but feel the Raiders left talent on the board. Parham has the athleticism that the Raiders love, but he’ll need to get stronger to win consistently against NFL defensive tackles. White’s a good power back who should fill either Josh Jacobs or Kenyan Drake’s roles next season, but I like Isaiah Spiller (who went to the Chargers with the very next pick) more as a prospect. I like both defensive tackles; Farrell is a pure nose tackle, while Butler should do well as a three-technique. Munford and Brown felt like redundant selections. Adams will make this class better than it probably is, so the good news is these rookies won’t have to do too much too early.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (C-): Georgia EDGE Travon Walker (1-1), Utah LB Devin Lloyd (1-27), Kentucky C Luke Fortner (3-65), Wyoming LB Chad Muma (3-70), Ole Miss RB Snoop Conner (5-154), Ouachita Baptist CB Gregory Junior (6-197), Arkansas CB Montaric Brown (7-222)

Trent Baalke has gone all in on Walker, and I don’t know if that’s a good idea. Walker’s athletic profile is insane, but his production is terrifyingly low for a first overall pick. Both linebackers in Lloyd and Muma were good choices. Both should be incredibly versatile additions to the Jaguars defense, as they have shown up well against the run and the pass. Fortner was a necessary pick after the retirement of Brandon Linder. I don’t know if he’s ready to be a starter right away, but it was a big need to fill. There were better running backs than Conner available in the fifth round. Congratulations to Junior on being the first-ever prospect from Ouachita Baptist to be drafted, and his size and agility made him worth a Day 3 pick. This is a draft that will be defined by Walker’s career; if he busts out, Baalke is all but gone.

29. New Orleans Saints (C-): Ohio State WR Chris Olave (1-11), Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning (1-19), Tennessee CB Alontae Taylor (2-49), Appalachian State LB D’Marco Jackson (5-161), Air Force DT Jordan Jackson (6-194)

Sacrificing more draft capital to go after Olave over a quarterback is a bit odd, but the Saints must have known a receiver run was coming. It shows confidence in Jameis Winston returning to form, and Olave’s fit in the New Orleans offense is as good as any prospect-team combination. Penning will fill in for Terron Armstead at left tackle, which is a bit of a concern. Penning’s a great athlete, but he needs to improve his pass protection and cut down on the penalties. Put Taylor in as one of my least favorite selections of the draft. His size-speed combination is tantalizing, but there are too many technical issues to warrant a top-50 selection. Both of the Jacksons, especially D’Marco, should be fine rotational pieces. The Saints need to invest in younger talent eventually, and the lack of quantity in this class can’t be a common occurrence in the future.

30. San Francisco 49ers (D+): USC EDGE Drake Jackson (2-61), LSU RB Tyrion Davis-Price (3-93), SMU WR Danny Gray (3-105), UTSA OT Spencer Burford (4-134), Toledo CB Samuel Womack (5-172), Fordham OT Nick Zakelj (6-187), UCF DT Kalia Davis (6-220), Penn State CB Tariq Castro-Fields (6-221), Iowa State QB Brock Purdy (7-262)

First things first, they still have a quarterback controversy between Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, so that’s not good. Jackson was a really nice pickup in the second round, and I can see him as a rotational piece in his rookie year before locking down a starting role opposite Nick Bosa next year. Davis-Price and Gray were not good selections, and they would have been available at least two rounds later. Burford and Zakelj will likely compete for the swing tackle role, with the loser likely going to have to kick inside to guard. Womack is a good sleeper candidate, and he could do really well in a slot corner role. Castro-Fields has good speed and cover ability, so watch him as well. Adding Purdy as this year’s Mr. Irrelevant was more funny than anything, given the 49ers current quarterback situation. Hard to think that the 49ers got great value out of anyone, and they need Jackson and one of their other selections to pan out to make this a success.

31. Washington Commanders (D): Penn State WR Jahan Dotson (1-16), Alabama DT Phidarian Mathis (2-47), Alabama RB Brian Robinson Jr. (3-98), Louisiana S Percy Butler (4-113), North Carolina QB Sam Howell (5-144), Nevada TE Cole Turner (5-149), Tulsa G Chris Paul (7-230), Oklahoma State CB Christian Holmes (7-240)

What was odder about the Dotson pick than reaching for a receiver was that they traded their original pick to a receiver-needy team in New Orleans. I understand Washington’s rebuilding and the extra picks can help, but the difference between Chris Olave and Dotson is probably more significant. Mathis and Robinson should both be good contributors, but I can’t help but feel they were drafted a round early and over prospects with higher ceilings at their positions. Howell is amazing value in the fifth round, as he reunites with former North Carolina receiver Dyami Brown and as a whole slew of deep threats to throw lasers to. Don’t be surprised if he competes against Carson Wentz if the veteran struggles again. Butler is a good choice for safety depth, Turner should get a chance to compete for snaps, and Paul should fill in nicely as a swing guard. Howell could easily turn this draft into a positive for the Commanders, but the early reaches sank this grade.

32. New England Patriots (D-): Chattanooga G Cole Strange (1-29), Baylor WR Tyquan Thornton (2-50), Houston CB Marcus Jones (3-85), Arizona State CB Jack Jones (4-121), South Dakota State RB Pierre Strong Jr. (4-127), Western Kentucky QB Bailey Zappe (4-137), South Carolina RB Kevin Harris (6-183), Northwest Missouri State DT Sam Roberts (6-200), LSU G Chasen Hines (6-210), Michigan OT Andrew Stueber (7-245)

If New England was run by any other coach or executive, there would have been calls for his firing by now. Strange and Thornton were far away the two biggest reaches in the draft. Both prospects would likely have been on the board for them two or three rounds later, so using premium picks for either was bizarre. I like both Marcus and Jack Jones, but both fulfill the same exact archetype. Ditto for Strong and Harris. Zappe is a nice backup option and the rest of their picks seem like good depth, but it’s all been too confusing. Belichick has to have a plan for all of this…right?


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