The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft ran at a rapid pace Thursday night with one NFC-altering deal to go along with a ton of selection-specific trades.
And some teams had better nights than others.
With that, here are a handful of the biggest winners and losers from the first round:
New York Jets
The Jets may not have pulled off a trade for San Francisco 49ers star Deebo Samuel, but New York received an impressive first-round haul, including three of Daniel Jeremiah’s top nine players in the draft. New York selected cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner at No. 4 overall, followed it up with Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson at No. 10 and then traded back into the first round to grab sliding Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson at No. 26 overall. A handful of teams had two selections Thursday, but with the late-round trade, Gang Green was the only team with three.
New York Giants
Well, there are a ton of stars heading to New York after the Giants pulled off a perfect 1-2 punch in the top 10. New York drafted Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux No. 5 overall before selecting its tackle of the future with Alabama’s Evan Neal two picks later. Both Thibodeaux and Neal, at one point or another, were believed to be the top overall selection. New York addressed a pair of needs and in doing so continued a great start for new general manager Joe Schoen and first-year coach Brian Daboll.
The Eagles pulled off the biggest of two draft-night blockbusters by acquiring fourth-year wideout A.J. Brown from the Tennessee Titans in exchange for the No. 18 pick in the NFL draft. Philadelphia reportedly has agreed to a contract extension with Brown, one of the true ascending wideouts in the game. Yes, it cost them financially, but it nevertheless serves as a great move for a team trying to build around Jalen Hurts. And that trade was after the Eagles traded up to jump the Baltimore Ravens and draft Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, the top defensive tackle in the class, at No. 13 overall.
Sure, the Ravens dealt of one of Lamar Jackson’s offensive weapons in Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, but in doing so received a first-round pick from the Arizona Cardinals. Given that Davante Adams was traded for a first- and second-rounder, Baltimore got a great return for an inferior talent. The Ravens also drafted a consensus top-5 player in safety Kyle Hamilton with the No. 14 overall pick and were granted another steal with Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum at No. 25 overall.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints drafted two of Jeremiah’s top 20 players entering Thursday. First, New Orleans traded up with the Washington Commanders and drafted Ohio State wideout Chris Olave and then selected Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning. The Saints, despite speculation circling around whether or not they could draft a quarterback to compete with Jameis Winston, instead put players around him to help make him successful.
When the Detroit Lions traded up with their NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings, Goff’s heart may have skipped a beat thinking the organization was drafting his successor. Instead, Goff landed arguably the best receiver in the draft in Alabama’s Jameson Williams. Williams, who continues to recover from ACL surgery, may not be ready to go Week 1, but when he is, Goff will be granted a dynamic playmaker.
Dallas has benefitted from first-round steals in the recent years — CeeDee Lamb in 2020, Micah Parsons in 2021 — and could have had another with Johnson, Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd and even with Linderbaum still available. Instead, the Cowboys opted to fill a need with Tulsa offensive tackle Tyler Smith. Smith, who was called for 16 penalties in 12 games last season (12 holding), now joins a Cowboys’ offensive line that was the most penalized unit in the league. Smith’s physical attributes offer potential, but it will take more coaching than a normal first-rounder. In addition to Dallas’ own misfire, two division rivals undoubtedly got better.
Disclaimer: This doesn’t have much to do with Green Bay missing on its draft picks as much as it has to do with the fact Rodgers was not awarded a pass-catching option. The Packers landed Georgia teammates, including the first linebacker off the board in Quay Walker and the second-best defensive tackle in the class in Devonte Wyatt. Those are both good players for Green Bay’s defense. And while the opinion may be shared that those two presented better value given that there were six receivers selected before Walker at No. 22, it still doesn’t help make up for the loss of Adams.
New England Patriots
The Patriots had a very Patriot-like draft Thursday in more ways than one. First, New England opted to trade back from No. 21 overall to No. 29 overall in a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. It came with a number of impactful defenders — linebacker Quay Walker, cornerback Trent McDuffie, Lloyd — still on the board. Then, the Patriots drafted Tennessee-Chattanooga guard Cole Strange, who was ranked No. 74 on Jeremiah’s big board. Strange fills a need for the Patriots, there’s no doubt about that, but one would think he would be available the next time the Patriots were on the clock at No. 54.
The Liberty quarterback was mocked to the Panthers as high as No. 6 overall, but slid out of the first round completely. Only one quarterback — Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett — came off the board in the opening 32 selections. Pickett was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Willis now should be viewed as the top quarterback available, but perhaps the separation between Willis and others — Matt Corral, Desmond Ridder, Sam Howell — isn’t too drastic.
The second and third rounds of the NFL draft will be held Friday starting at 7 p.m. ET.