April 29, 2022
2022 NFL Draft Day 2 Preview – Ten Observations:
1. First of all, congratulations are in order for Charlie Campbell, who was able to get the first 10 picks correct in his mock draft. The only mishap was reversing the order of the Giants picks, but I don’t think anyone had Kayvon Thibodeaux at five and then Evan Neal at seven.
All hell broke loose after the top 10 with a barrage of trades, making the rest of the first round very unpredictable, but Charlie had a flawless start to his mock. Charlie is the best in the business, and it’s no coincidence that he ranks among the leaders for accurate mock drafters every single year.
I ended up with seven correct picks. Things were ruined for me when the Texans selected Derek Stingley No. 3 overall. I was shocked, frankly. I know that Stingley was one of three reported options for Houston – along with Ikem Ekwonu and Evan Neal – but Lovie Smith’s defenses don’t call for early picks to be used on corners. Also, with some mocks projecting Stingley to fall as far as No. 12, I thought the Texans believed they could obtain Stingley by trading up a few slots with their 13th-overall pick.
This is why I mocked Ekwonu to the Texans. I think they should have gone with Ekwonu and then Trent McDuffie at 13. Instead, they were caught with their pants down and were forced into reaching for a guard with their next choice. The Texans, as usual, screwed up.
2. Speaking of Stingley, there was no way he was falling to anywhere near No. 12. The Giants’ plan this whole time was to draft a cornerback and then a tackle. They wanted either Stingley or Ahmad Gardner at No. 5 to replace James Bradberry, who will be traded soon.
The Giants missed out on both cornerbacks, but that’s OK. They have the 36th-overall pick, and there are some talented corners available to begin the second round. Andrew Booth, Kyler Gordon and Cam Taylor-Britt are all second round-caliber cornerbacks worth choosing at No. 36. I have the Giants taking Gordon in my 2022 NFL Mock Re-Draft.
That said, Charlie Campbell reported that Kyler Gordon has some character concerns, so he could be in for a second-day fall.
3. Sticking with Stingley, I think it’s worth noting how different the top 10 would have gone had the Texans picked Ekwonu over Stingley:
New York Jets: This would not have changed. The Jets loved Gardner all along.
New York Giants: As mentioned earlier, Stingley was going in the top five, whether it was to the Texans or Giants.
Carolina Panthers: I had reason to believe the Panthers liked Charles Cross more than Evan Neal. Cross would’ve been the pick here.
New York Giants: Neal would still have been the selection as the final of the three tackles, rather than the second.
Atlanta Falcons: I don’t know if this pick would’ve been different for certain, but I do know that Atlanta’s strategy is to draft the best player available. I have to believe that the Falcons had Kayvon Thibodeaux over Drake London on their big board, but I’m not totally sure.
Seattle Seahawks: There’s no Charles Cross available, so this pick would’ve been different as well. This likely would’ve been Thibodeaux’s floor had the Falcons passed on him. If they didn’t, Seattle may have taken a similar deal the Redskins made with the Saints and then drafted Trevor Penning at No. 16.
4. For a second, I considered stating that Jermaine Johnson would’ve been Seattle’s pick at No. 9. Of course, that doesn’t seem likely, given that Johnson fell all the way to No. 26.
Johnson fell because of character issues. Charlie Campbell reported on Tuesday of this week that Johnson received poor marks for his character. Here’s what he wrote:
Multiple team sources say Johnson’s character issues are significant, with one director of player personnel labelling Johnson as worse than Kayvon Thibodeaux. Teams received negative feedback from Georgia, and the character issues played a part in Johnson transferring from the Bulldogs for his senior year.
Still, Johnson falling out of the top 20 was absurd. What did he do, exactly? Launder money into a European country through his crackhead son? Call urban schools “jungles?” Sniff little girls’ hair? Oh wait, that was someone else.
What’s crazy is that Johnson definitely didn’t have the worst character issues in the first round. DeVonte Wyatt, chosen two picks after Johnson, was removed from some teams’ draft boards for repeated domestic violence. Yet, Wyatt went in his expected range, while Johnson didn’t. This was very bizarre.
5. I don’t know what was more surprising: Jermaine Johnson’s fall to No. 26, or the A.J. Brown trade. I wrote this in the NFL Trade Grades page, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a draft-day deal decide two divisions immediately.
Yet, this is exactly what happened. There are reports out of Tennessee that the people within the Titans organization were flabbergasted by the trade. Clay Travis summed it up perfectly:
Titans fans waited over twenty years for a truly dominant wide receiver, finally got one, and traded him away after the quarterback they gave $100 million to turned into a total bum in his two home playoff games. Rebuilding time.
Tannehill’s albatross of a contract forced the Titans’ hand, and now they’ve conceded the AFC South to the Colts. If you think that’s an overreaction, just recall how the Titans played without Brown last year. They lost to the freaking Jets!
Meanwhile, the NFC East may have swung in favor of the Eagles. The Cowboys lost a number of key players this offseason – Amari Cooper, Connor Williams, La’el Collins, Randy Gregory to name some – while the Eagles just obtained one of the top young receivers in the NFL. I already thought the Eagles and Cowboys were close – they were two spots apart in my NFL Power Rankings – so Philadelphia seems like the better team at the moment, though it could still be neck and neck.
6. A trade that made even less sense was the Vikings-Lions deal. When it happened, and Detroit moved up 20 spots to draft a receiver, I laughed. I literally wrote, “LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL” on my Live Draft Blog. I assumed that the Lions traded away a future first-round pick to acquire a receiver, which seemed like an incredibly stupid decision.
Minutes later, my “LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL” was directed at the Vikings because they moved down 20 spots, and all they obtained was a shift up of 12 picks in the second round and a third-round selection.
Charlie summed it up well on Twitter:
For the Lions to move up 20 spots in the 1st round & not give up a first-rounder is a clear rip off deal. And getting 46 back. Another shocking factor is the Vikings allowing the Lions to get Jameson Williams and now having to cover him for years to come. What is MIN thinking?
It’s crazy that the Vikings don’t even have the personnel to cover the Lions’ receivers. I really don’t understand their thought process. What I do know is that Rick Spielman wouldn’t have sabotaged things in this manner. Spielman wasn’t perfect, but he’s looking great right now compared to Minnesota’s current regime.
7. On the other side of the coin, I believe that this Jameson Williams trade could be the catalyst for the Lions’ revival. I really believe that. Detroit has made some terrific hires in the front office recently, and it’s really showing. They stole Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fourth round last year, and now they’ve outsmarted a divisional rival into giving them a superstar offensive player for pennies on the dollar.
Of course, the Lions are still far away from winning. Jared Goff is hardly the solution, and the roster still has tons of holes. Plus, Williams’ torn ACL will prevent him from being his dynamic self for another season. Still, the Lions appear to be on the right track for the first time in what seems like decades, and if they keep making the right moves and find a talented quarterback to replace Goff – perhaps next April – they can finally compete for a playoff spot during the 2023 season.
8. Speaking of quarterbacks, let’s discuss the only player at the position who was drafted Thursday night. That was Kenny Pickett, and I hated the pick for the Steelers.
Pittsburgh had been linked to Malik Willis the entire time, and that made more sense. The Steelers wanted a quarterback with mobility, and Willis fit that profile. He also possessed the better arm, the higher upside, and the superior intelligence compared to Pickett. Some will argue that Pickett is more pro-ready, but I’m not so sure about that. Pickett fumbled 37 times while in Pittsburgh, thanks to his small hands, and now he’ll have to play into December and January in the Steel City, which he didn’t have to do while starting for the Panthers because the college football regular season doesn’t extend past Thanksgiving. Those small hands will be very problematic come December and January.
If you think I’m being too hard on Pickett, I’m not alone. Charlie and I spoke to most of the teams that needed a quarterback in the first round, and no one wanted Pickett. When we thought we found a potential home for him, we were told “no.” In fact, one team told us that they had Pickett fourth among quarterbacks behind Willis, Sam Howell and Matt Corral.
So, the question remains: Why did the Steelers draft Pickett? I’m not sure, but I was on the Ira on Sports show, and Ira Kaufman pointed out that the Steelers’ ownership always regretted passing on Dan Marino, another Pittsburgh quarterback, and they vowed never to do so again.
If the Steelers drafted Pickett just because he played at Pittsburgh, this was an incredibly stupid decision. Pickett’s location has no bearing on him as a prospect, and he’s most certainly not Dan Marino. I’m not even sure if he’s Ken Marino.
9. As for the other projected first-round quarterback, Malik Willis was shockingly undrafted on Thursday night. Most teams we spoke to had Willis ahead of Pickett, but they just didn’t rate either highly enough to take Willis in the opening frame. I’d be shocked if Willis falls very far in Round 2 as a result. That said, I would take the over 36 that I saw on Bovada last night (no longer there). It’s not a lock that Willis will be chosen with the first three or four selections, especially considering that the Buccaneers and Vikings have quarterbacks in place on the roster. The Titans could do it, but if they didn’t like Willis at 26, why would they pick him at 36?
I have to mention that I loved Willis’ positive attitude following the first round. He tweeted this out, for example:
It’s nice to see that Willis is in good spirits, at least publicly. I’m sure he’s disappointed, and rightfully so, but he can use this as motivation to be the best pro quarterback he can be.
10. I said it was shocking that Willis was undrafted on Thursday night. It was even more surprising that Cole Strange was chosen in the opening frame. As mentioned on the draft grades page, Charlie and I had him 115 and 144, respectively, in our mock drafts. Dane Brugler had Strange in the 90s.
This does not mean Strange will be a bad NFL player. He could certainly succeed and even become a Pro Bowler. If that happens, those who trashed this pick will be criticized. Those doing the criticizing, however, will be the real fools because they don’t understand draft value. The Patriots could have chosen Strange in the second, or even the third round. They could have used their Thursday night choice on another player to help them right away, such as Devin Lloyd (by not trading down), Daxton Hill, Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth, etc., and then taken Strange at 54. Drafting Strange at 54 would’ve still been too early, but it wouldn’t have warranted a Millen grade.
Fantasy Football Perspective:
For a fantasy football perspective, there were somehow only seven players chosen in the first round, compared to 13 last year. Here they are, ordered by dynasty value:
- Garrett Wilson, WR, Jets
- Drake London, WR, Falcons
- Chris Olave, WR, Saints
- Jameson Williams, WR, Lions
- Jahan Dotson, WR, Redskins
- Treylon Burks, WR, Titans
- Kenny Pickett, QB, Steelers
How boring! These six receivers are all talented, but none are in great situations. I put Garrett Wilson ahead of everyone else because it’s possible that Zach Wilson makes a big leap in his second NFL season. Otherwise, these quarterbacks are paired with mediocre or worse quarterbacks.
Of course, other running backs will be added to this list after Friday. Check out the 2022 NFL Mock Re-Draft for Rounds 2-3 to see where these backs could be chosen.
I’ll have more definitive 2022 Fantasy Football Rankings following the NFL Draft.
Best Players Available for Day 2:
My top-25 available players for the second round (with links to their scouting reports):
David Ojabo, DE, Michigan
Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
Kenneth Walker, RB, Michigan State
Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Logan Hall, DL, Houston
Arnold Ebiketie, DE, Penn State
Travis Jones, NT, Connecticut
George Pickens, WR, Georgia
Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma
Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Boye Mafe, DE, Minnesota
Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
Sam Williams, DE, Ole Miss
Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky
Drake Jackson, DE, USC
Cam Jurgens, C, Nebraska
Ed Ingram, G, LSU
Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
2022 NFL Draft Mailbag:
From Kenny S.
What’s the biggest surprise in the draft so far? Who was the worst pick in the 1st round?
–> The answer to both questions is Cole Strange. I saw people post about Strange’s extremely high RAS (relative athletic score), which means he’s very athletic and possesses huge upside. However, there are many prospects with high RASes who will be chosen on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft, which is when Strange should have gone. The Patriots could have taken him in the second round and picked a potential starter at 21 or 29.
From Luke T.
How far do you expect George Pickens to fall?
–> Not too far. George Pickens has character concerns, which dropped him into Round 2, but at some point, his talent will outweight the risks. Teams like the Browns and Chiefs have ignored character concerns in the past, so I think those are two ideal spots for Pickens.
From Kenny S.
What are some players who slipped to second round?
–> Malik Willis is the obvious name. Andrew Booth as well. ESPN’s Jordan Reid said that Booth would absolutely not fall past the Bills at No. 25. Finally, there’s Christian Watson. Maybe I was too bullish on his draft outlook, but I thought some team would fall in love with his athleticism and upside.
From Jason B.
Why do you think that the bengals need a center when they paid decent money to Karras to play the position?
–> That’s straight from the horse’s mouth. I believed the Bengals were fine at center, but they want to get better there. Also, it might be insurance for Jackson Carman, as Ted Karras can play guard.
From Mike B.
Biggest surprise to not go in the 1st round? I thought one of the teams would of taken a shot Ojabo at the end
–> I was shocked Ojabo didn’t go in the first round as well. I thought it would be a Montez Sweat situation. I touched on Willis, Booth and Watson earlier. I thought they’d go in the first round.
From Bryan B.
Congrats on calling Walker to Jaguars after the combine.
–> Thanks, but Charlie Campbell deserves all the credit for that!
From Kenny S.
Where is Baker going to play next year?
–> It has to be Carolia, right? The Panthers have nothing at quarterback, and they don’t draft until the fourth round. Unless they trade future picks for selections on Day 2, they almost have to trade for Mayfield. I’m sure they want the Browns to pay some of his salary.
From Max R.
Is Malik to Seahawks a slam dunk? And will they trade up to get him?
–> It would be a slam-dunk pick. I’d be surprised if they passed on him, given their need and the value. Then again, Willis may not get to them at No. 40, but the Seahawks like a few quarterbacks in this range.
From Brendan S.
Do you think Washington didn’t like Kyle Hamilton and is Jahan Dotson a reach?
–> I think the Redskins liked Hamilton, but they just wanted more draft capital, so they moved down. I wonder if they thought they could’ve gotten Hamilton at No. 16. With Hamilton and the other receivers off the board, they reached a bit for Dotson, but it wasn’t an egregious reach, or anything. I like Dotson, and he should end up being a good pro.
From Daniel B.
Why Pickett over Willis in Pittsburgh when every source had them enamored with Malik this whole time?
–> The only thing that makes sense is that ownership pushed the pick. It happens from time to time, like the Eagles’ ownership demanding the Jalen Hurts selection. The Rooneys swore to never pass on another Pittsburgh quarterback after missing out on Dan Marino. Nothing else makes any sense.
From Joe B.
What are some UDFA-level prospects the Patriots could consider taking today?
–> LOL. I mocked Tay Martin to the Patriots at No. 245, so maybe they’ll take him at No. 54.
From Ron S.
Biggest need for the teams that haven’t drafted yet.
–> A bunch of teams haven’t drafted yet, so let’s run down the list, alphabetically:
49ers: Cornerback was a huge problem for them last year.
Bears: Wide receiver. I expect them to pick two in the next few rounds.
Broncos: I think they’re targeting a linebacker, but they also need a right tackle.
Browns: It’s close between wide receiver and defensive line.
Buccaneers: Tampa’s defensive line is suddenly pretty barren aside from Vita Vea.
Cardinals: They need an edge rusher to replace Chandler Jones.
Colts: They need offensive line help, both at tackle and guard.
Dolphins: The Dolphins brought in more linebackers than any other position for top-30 visits.
Raiders: The offensive line has so many holes.
Rams: Ambassador Von Miller must be replaced.
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