The 2022 NFL Draft is going to be very entertaining for fans of the Jets, Giants and Eagles. Meanwhile, Rams fans have not tuned in to the draft since 2016. Three teams are responsible for six of the top-10 picks. Although last year was heavily focused on the quarterbacks and wide receivers, defense will be king in 2022. In today's thought exercise, we explore the roster-building strategy that teams could employ with multiple picks in the first round.
Without further ado, let's kick this off!
Round 1 - Pick 1
Oregon • Soph • 6'5" / 258 lbs
Detroit is not going to take a safety or offensive tackle, so that leaves the team with cornerback or defensive line. Thibodeaux is a twitchy player who is also wiry strong. Romeo Okwara and Thibodeaux is a fine pairing in the Motor City.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Evan Neal OL
Alabama • Jr • 6'7" / 350 lbs
Some of the top prospects in this class are edge rushers and Jacksonville has taken edge rushers in two recent draft classes. It could still be argued that the Jaguars need one of those players, but they have bigger fish to fry. They also addressed safety and cornerback last offseason. It all leads back to Neal, who has the flexibility of playing with or without Cam Robinson.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Ikem Ekwonu OT
NC State • Soph • 6'4" / 320 lbs
General manager Joe Douglas believes in building through the trenches, so he attacks each side of the ball. Mekhi Becton, Alijah Vera-Tucker and Ekwonu is a sturdy and physically imposing group.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 5
Michigan • Sr • 6'6" / 265 lbs
The Jets pair Hutchinson with Carl Lawson. The Wolverine has taken the college football landscape by storm. He has registered 13 sacks and delivered some huge moments against the likes of Ohio State.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Purdue • Jr • 6'4" / 275 lbs
New York is going to target each side of the ball with its first-round picks. With the first of those picks, the Giants add Karlaftis to bolster the pass rush. He is a mature, physical prospect who has been contending against double teams for most of his time in the Big Ten.
From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 7
Iowa • Jr • 6'3" / 290 lbs
Naturally, everyone is putting themselves in the shoes of Dave Gettleman, but it has already been reported that Gettleman may not be making these picks. Whether or not Gettleman is there is irrelevant in this case, as Linderbaum is a special talent who would give New York more than it was hoping when it selected Weston Richburg years earlier.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Notre Dame • Jr • 6'4" / 220 lbs
Philadelphia's zone scheme is a perfect marriage with Hamilton's skillset. He is a long athlete who is capable of making plays in coverage or making ball carriers feel his pain playing downhill.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Devin Lloyd LB
Utah • Jr • 6'3" / 235 lbs
Philadelphia fans told me last year that the team does not take linebackers in the first round, and that is likely the problem. The Eagles have reached the tipping point with the linebacker play and want some stability. Lloyd is a player who I have been comparing to Fred Warner for months because of his ability to get off blocks. He has been improving in pass coverage.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Matt Corral QB
Ole Miss • Jr • 6'2" / 205 lbs
Matt Rhule has taken a chance on Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold and now Cam Newton. None of those are long-term fits, so the Panthers once again find themselves in the quarterback market. Corral has shown improved decision-making and accuracy at all three levels.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Kenyon Green OL
Texas A&M • Jr • 6'4" / 325 lbs
I still believe in Green's value as an interior offensive lineman, but his versatility makes him even more valuable. Atlanta plugs him into an offensive line that has really struggled this year. The Falcons still have questions on defense and the long-term outlook at quarterback.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Cincinnati • Jr • 6'2" / 188 lbs
Minnesota went on a stretch where it brought in a lot of cornerbacks over a few draft classes but that did not work out. Gardner could be the answer to the question the Vikings have faced since the decline of Xavier Rhodes.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Pittsburgh • Sr • 6'3" / 220 lbs
It feels like this season was always about clearing salary cap space and putting the team in position to make a run at acquiring a quarterback next offseason. I never imagined Sean Payton was truly excited about the possibility of starting Jameis Winston and/or Taysom Hill. Pickett is a smart player who Payton could trust. Plus, traditionalists would not have to worry about Pickett's sub nine-inch hands consistently playing in inclement weather.
From Indianapolis Colts
Round 1 - Pick 14
Clemson • Jr • 6'0" / 200 lbs
Philadelphia continues a defensive overhaul with the selection of Booth. The Eagles walk away with Kyle Hamilton, Devin Lloyd and Booth in the first round. Who, in the city of Brotherly Love, would not sign up for that outcome? The only concern is that you're placing a lot of faith in the healthy return of both lines.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Ohio State • Jr • 6'0" / 192 lbs
Last week's game against Baltimore exposed the issues of not having a wide receiver capable of causing strain on the defense. The Ravens stacked the box and made life difficult on Nick Chubb knowing they could lock down Cleveland's wide receivers in single coverage. Wilson has sensational body control and some flash.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Mississippi State • Soph • 6'5" / 310 lbs
Pittsburgh made the decision to take the running back before the offensive line last year. It fixes an ongoing problem by heavily investing at offensive tackle. The Steelers still need to find a solution at quarterback, but that will have to come in a later round or free agency/via trade.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Nakobe Dean LB
Georgia • Jr • 6'0" / 225 lbs
Dean is a block buster. He plays the game with reckless abandon and no fear for his own body. His athleticism is off the charts, and that will pair nicely with Bradley Chubb and Jonathon Cooper moving forward.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Alabama • Jr • 6'2" / 189 lbs
Williams is the college football darling at wide receiver this year. He is such a smooth player. DeSean Jackson has been able to give the Raiders moments, but that is not long-term sustainability. The team still needs answers outside of Darren Waller.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Malik Willis QB
Liberty • Jr • 6'1" / 215 lbs
Washington will spend the rest of the season determining whether or not Taylor Heinicke is a long-term option. He may be able to do enough to convince the franchise that he is worth giving the keys to for a year. In that scenario, it would be able to divert its assets elsewhere.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Jordan Davis DL
Georgia • Soph • 6'6" / 330 lbs
Los Angeles' issues have become evident in recent weeks. It cannot stop the run, and the offense is underwhelming relative to its vertical potential. Davis is a big man who will occasionally push the pocket in addition to shutting down the run game.
From San Francisco 49ers
Round 1 - Pick 21
Washington • Soph • 5'11" / 195 lbs
Cornerback may seem unorthodox considering the amount of money and the investment of a first-round pick Miami has already made, but the team does not have a player who ranks higher than No. 50 at that position, according to PFF. It could be an opportunity for the Dolphins to save some money and start from scratch.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Texas A&M • Jr • 6'4" / 290 lbs
Leal is not going to be every team's cup of tea, nor will he be a fit for everyone. Buffalo made a substantial investment at edge rusher over the last two years, and now it addresses the interior defensive line. Leal is a player who can apply pressure up the middle and create some one-on-one opportunities for those edge rushers.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 23
Chris Olave WR
Ohio State • Sr • 6'1" / 188 lbs
Detroit is not one wide receiver away from contention, but it is a huge position of need. The current group is not instilling fear in anyone, and Olave is too good a value to pass up at this point in the first round.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Auburn • Sr • 6'0" / 190 lbs
McCreary is not flashy. He is just a sound player who gets the job done, and that seems to be how Cincinnati's organization likes it. The Bengals have taken steps on defense, but adding some young pieces while slowly saving salary cap space to afford Joe Burrow's extension in a few years will be important.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Georgia • Sr • 6'0" / 190 lbs
Dallas has invested in the cornerback position with a few second-round picks -- Trevon Diggs and Kelvin Joseph -- but that is still a position of need. If Joseph ever gets meaningful reps and shows he can be a long-term option, then we will back off of this.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Arkansas • Jr • 6'3" / 225 lbs
Burks has the size and versatility to play in the slot or wide. His skillset, alongside Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, would be scary for opposing defenses. Kansas City has been searching for a more stable option at the position and Burks can be the answer.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Drake London WR
USC • Jr • 6'5" / 210 lbs
Tennessee and Julio Jones could realistically part ways after the season, and that would leave the Titans in a similar position as last season -- without a running mate for A.J. Brown. London is a jump-ball specialist who can give the team more size at the position while saving some money.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Jahan Dotson WR
Penn State • Sr • 5'11" / 184 lbs
Dotson is a great fit for New England because he can play underneath and create yards after the catch, or he can carry the route up the field for a deep shot. His speed and versatility will keep defenses honest in an otherwise dunk-and-run offense.
Round 1 - Pick 30