B1G winners (and the only Big Ten loser) from the 2022 NFL Draft
The 2022 NFL Draft is in the books, and it was a pretty good one for the Big Ten.
Starting with No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson, a total of 48 Big Ten players were selected. That’s second only to the SEC, which is pretty much all that any other conference can hope to accomplish at this point.
Not all of those 48 Big Ten picks were created equal.
We broke it down round-by-round to anoint our top 2 Big Ten picks from each. Whether it’s a result of being drafted in a spot with great value or simply finding the perfect team, these are the picks that stand out.
And, in the case of one Big Ten program, the pick that did not.
Aidan Hutchinson (DE, Michigan) — Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions lucked out.
Now there’s a sentence you don’t see every day.
Hutchinson was the consensus top pick in this year’s draft to everyone but the Jacksonville Jaguars. As a result, Detroit snagged him with the No. 2 pick in a potential franchise-altering move.
Hutchinson is a Michigan native who played for Michigan and now moves on to the Lions. For a team that’s spent decades spinning in circles, you couldn’t ask for a bigger PR win — much like when the Bengals picked southeast Ohio native Joe Burrow No. 1 in 2020.
But it’s about so much more than that.
Hutchinson is the perfect fit for the culture 2nd-year coach Dan Campbell is attempting to build in Detroit. And the Lions are a much better fit for Hutchinson than the mess the Jaguars are stuck cleaning up after Urban Meyer’s epic failure.
Everyone wins in Detroit.
Chris Olave (WR, Ohio State) — New Orleans Saints
I love pairing Olave with fellow former Buckeye Michael Thomas. Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton are average quarterbacks, but mixing those 2 receivers with running back Alvin Kamara could still give New Orleans a potent offense.
David Ojabo (OLB, Michigan) — Baltimore Ravens
This may look like Michigan homerism — which would be a strange trait for an Indiana grad to possess — but it’s just reality.
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Ojabo is a 1st-round talent who was only available because he tore his Achilles tendon during Michigan’s Pro Day.
On top of that, he found the friendliest possible landing spot. His college defensive coordinator, Mike Macdonald, is now Baltimore’s DC. And, of course, Ravens coach John Harbaugh is the brother of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.
Everything fits perfectly.
Arnold Ebiketie (DE, Penn State) — Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons had 18 sacks last season — 4.5 fewer than Pittsburgh’s TJ Watt had by himself. Ebiketie should help fix that issue.
Leo Chenal (LB, Wisconsin) — Kansas City Chiefs
My love for this pick gets an assist from the fact it pairs Chenal with former Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis, whom Kansas City picked near the end of Round 1. Outside of Hutchinson, Karlaftis and Chenal were likely the highest-motor defensive players in the Big Ten last season.
Now they’ll have the chance to chase down opponents in the backfield together. I’ll be watching.
Nicholas Petit-Frere (OT, Ohio State) — Tennessee Titans
The Titans allowed 47 sacks last season, which is somewhat remarkable given how much they love pounding the rock. Petit-Frere can compete for a starting spot right away and at worst figures to be their No. 3 tackle at the start of the season.
Daniel Faalele (OT, Minnesota) — Baltimore Ravens
This is absolutely the round where you take a chance on molding a 6-8, 384-pound tackle into a pro. Particularly when you have a unique run-based offense like Baltimore.
In every round, the Ravens drafted a player you could envision going several spots earlier. Faalele is another who fits that bill.
Hassan Haskins (RB, Michigan) — Tennessee Titans
Some people won’t like this pick because the Titans already have Derrick Henry. But that’s precisely why I love this pick. Haskins is like a Diet Henry who can help spell King Henry. Or maybe even take over for a game if Henry’s injury issues from last season carry over into 2022.
Micah McFadden (LB, Indiana) — New York Giants
It wouldn’t surprise me if McFadden becomes as much a Giants mainstay as the 2 guys they drafted in the first 7 overall picks. He was once the lowest-rated recruit in his Indiana signing class, then developed into the rarest of species: a Hoosier football All-American.
That development will continue in the NFL.
Esezi Otomewo (DE, Minnesota) — Minnesota Vikings
Otomewo is a guy with a high ceiling. If he doesn’t stick, oh well. You gave the local guy a chance. But if he does reach that ceiling, your fan base won’t be reminding you how dumb you were for letting a former Gopher come back to haunt you.
Connor Heyward (H-Back, Michigan State) — Pittsburgh Steelers
Quite possibly the most perfect pick of the entire 2022 NFL Draft. Heyward’s game screams “Pittsburgh Steeler.”
Part of the reason we know this? His brother Cam has already been a Steeler for a decade.
Pittsburgh needed to get better in pass blocking, and Connor Heyward will help in that department in addition to being a threat when he gets the ball.
Matt Henningsen (DL, Wisconsin) — Denver Broncos
I will absolutely take my chances on a Wisconsin defensive lineman at this stage of the NFL Draft. Henningsen was part of the reason Chenal was able to lead the Big Ten in tackles for loss last season, and I’m betting he’ll make Denver’s roster.
Samori Toure (WR, Nebraska) — Green Bay Packers
The Packers were lambasted from all angles for their failure to draft any weapons for Aaron Rodgers in the 1st round. But I think they found a receiver who is going to make the roster just 5 picks from the end of the Draft.
Toure transferred to Nebraska from Montana to prove he could excel at the FBS level, and he did, averaging 19.5 yards per catch. I’m stunned he didn’t go sooner, but now Green Bay has a guy likely to play with a Rodgers-like chip on his shoulder.
Andrew Stueber (OL, Michigan) — New England Patriots
Stueber felt like the straw who stirred the drink for Michigan’s offensive line, which was voted the nation’s best in 2021. Plus, Bill Belichick has a pretty good eye for Michigan guys late in the Draft. Another late-rounder who I think will at least make the practice squad to start his career.
The B1G loser
Northwestern is the only Big Ten team that failed to have a player drafted this year. And if you saw the Wildcats play in 2021, that comes as no surprise. This was Pat Fitzgerald’s worst team in 16 seasons at the helm.