Saturday Tradition 2022 NFL Draft Round 1 winners, losers and other oddities
Saturday Tradition Big Ten columnist Alex Hickey breaks down the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft as only he can. Whether that’s a good thing is up to the reader.
Biggest winners (Individual)
1. Brian Hartline
You’ll be hard-pressed to convince me there’s a better position coach in college football than Ohio State receivers coach Brian Hartline.
In what was likely an unprecedented moment in NFL Draft history, 3 former teammates who play the same position were drafted with 3 consecutive picks in the first round. Garrett Wilson went 10th to the Jets, Chris Olave 11th to the Saints, and former Buckeye Jameson Williams 12th to the Lions.
Williams, of course, made himself more widely known playing for Alabama last season. That transfer came out of necessity because of a receiver who will likely get drafted higher than any of this trio next year — Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
The recruiting impact this will continue to have for Ohio State at the position — both out of high school and in the transfer portal, if needed — figures to be immeasurable. Hartline can walk into any recruit’s living room and casually promise them a path to the first round.
2. Kirby Smart
Getting 5 Georgia defensive players taken in the first round is some kind of impressive. What Hartline can do for receivers, Smart can do at every position defensively. But this is a Big Ten site. So we’re more impressed with Hartline.
3. B1G over bettors
Las Vegas was a fitting site for this year’s Draft. Legalized sports betting, this year more than ever before, is a factor in how fans consume it.
One of the most interesting wagers: an over-under of 6.5 Big Ten players selected in the first round. The over finally hit when the Bengals made Michigan defensive back Daxton Hill the 7th B1G player selected at No. 31.
Biggest winners (Teams)
1. New York Jets
In a sentence rarely written since 1969, no fan base should be happier than that of the Jets after Round 1.
In addition to Wilson, New York grabbed cornerback Sauce Gardner at No. 4 overall — the guy never allowed a touchdown catch in college — and traded for Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II at No. 26. Johnson was a top 15-20 pick in most mock drafts.
It’s the Jets, so anything could go wrong. But maybe, for once, it won’t.
2. Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore’s habit of having talent fall into its lap continues.
Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, the best on the board, slipped from the top 10 and went to the Ravens at No. 14. Then Baltimore grabbed the guy most likely to lead this draft class in Pro Bowl appearances — Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum — with the No. 25 pick.
The idea of Linderbaum mashing people to make room for Lamar Jackson sounds fantastic. That is to everyone but Jackson, apparently, who expressed displeasure after receiver Hollywood Brown was traded to Arizona and no receiver was taken in his place.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
Washington’s Trent McDuffie is the best corner in this class behind Derek Stingley and Sauce Gardner, who each went in the top 4. Once McDuffie slipped out of the top 20, Kansas City pounced with a trade to grab him at 21st.
Adding George Karlaftis at No. 30 is the steal of the draft — at least until Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean is taken.
With Russell Wilson, Justin Herbert and David Carr comprising the AFC West quarterback roll call, Kansas City was wise to invest in defense.
Biggest loser (Individual)
Aaron Rodgers, again
Green Bay had 2 first-round picks, and with the early run on receivers, you figured they might use those to trade up and get Aaron Rodgers a target now that Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are gone.
The Packers stood pat, surprisingly taking Georgia linebacker Quay Walker at No. 22 over teammate Nakobe Dean or Utah’s Devin Lloyd. With the 28th pick, Green Bay stuck with Georgia’s defense and took tackle Devonte Wyatt.
Maybe they just like guys used to having a “G” on their helmet.
Still, it seems rather remarkable that Rodgers decided against retirement, then got rewarded with no help on his side of the ball. The Packers haven’t taken a receiver in the first round since 2002.
Biggest loser (Team)
The Giants made a pair of well-received top-10 picks. The Eagles got aggressive and traded for receiver AJ Brown. The Commanders might have taken Penn State receiver Jahan Dotson a hair earlier than most teams would have, but did what they could with receivers flying off the shelves.
Every one of those teams is in a position to improve as a result of their picks.
Dallas, with a chance to take Linderbaum or Johnson or Karlaftis, instead picked Tulsa offensive lineman Tyler Smith.
Tyler Smith was called for 12 penalties in 12 games last season, after being flagged 7 times in 14 games from 2019-20; his 12 flags were the 3rd most in the FBS among offensive linemen. Cowboys OL flagged a league-high 49 times last season
— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) April 29, 2022
At least he’ll fit in.
This Giants fan, who has the general appearance of Will Ferrell’s character from Eastbound and Down, was absolutely crushed by the selection of Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux. Watching him mouth “The New York Football Giants select …” before becoming completely crestfallen when he hears Thibodeaux’s name is magical.
— Alex Hickey (@bigahickey) April 29, 2022
Worst haircut: Derek Carr
Derek Carr's haircut 😳 pic.twitter.com/g2XFhf5PQy
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 29, 2022
derek carr looking like he can sell a mean 1987 Buick pic.twitter.com/j5bvvVmm8C
— Hector Diaz (@iamHectorDiaz) April 29, 2022
wtf Derek Carr do to his head pic.twitter.com/v3bg35arfd
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) April 29, 2022
I have nothing to add here.
Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett learning he’ll play in the same stadium that he did in college.
The moment Kenny Pickett's name is called by the Steelers. pic.twitter.com/dX0XawbAwg
— Matt Freed (@mattfreedpghpg) April 29, 2022
I also have nothing to add here.
I cannot unsee this creepy Vikings fan, and now neither can you! pic.twitter.com/IHCtNDieZy
— Alex Hickey (@bigahickey) April 29, 2022
B1G names to look for on Day 2
Who will be the next Big Ten player drafted? There are a number of qualified candidates, but the top 3 are pass rushers.
Arnold Ebiketie, DE, Penn State
We’ve seen the premium teams are placing on pass rushers in this draft. Ebiketie is the best available for a traditional 4-man front.
David Ojabo, OLB, Michigan
Ojabo would have been gone already if he hadn’t torn his Achilles at Michigan’s Pro Day. That’s a tough injury to recover from, so there’s some risk involved here. But watching the Wolverines this year, I felt Ojabo could finish his pro career with more sacks than Aidan Hutchinson.
Boye Mafe, OLB, Minnesota
There was some serious thought that Mafe would end up in Kansas City. But those thoughts were likely formed under the assumption that Karlaftis would not still be available that deep into the draft. He was, and the Chiefs wisely scooped him up.
Mafe won’t be waiting too long to hear his name called Friday.
Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
The consensus is that Walker will be the second running back taken in this draft, with first dibs going to Iowa State’s Breece Hall. The only question is when Hall will actually get selected to clear the runway for Walker.