Re-Drafting the 2022 NFL Draft After Early Offseason Buzz

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksFeatured Columnist IVJune 28, 2022

Re-Drafting the 2022 NFL Draft After Early Offseason Buzz

0 of 32

    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    There's an old saying that hindsight is 20-20. And it's as true in the NFL as anywhere else.

    Take the 2022 draft, for example. By this time a year from now, it will have been discussed and dissected to infinity…and beyond. The picks who play well as rookies will be hailed as values. Those that do not will be pilloried as busts. There will be redrafts galore.

    The thing is, why wait?

    Sure, it's only been a couple of months since the draft happened, and the rookies involved haven't even had their first training camps. But reports are already leaking out, whether they are praising a quarterback's mental approach or expressing concerns about a wide receiver's durability.

    If teams knew then what they know now, how much different would the first round in 2022 potentially look?

    Well, there's one way to find out.

    Authors Note: Trades made before or during the 2022 draft that included players (the Deshaun Watson, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill deals as examples) were included in this redraft. Trades that strictly involved the exchange of picks were not.

1.01: Jacksonville Jaguars

1 of 32

    David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia

    The New Pick: Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia

    There were pass-rushers who entered the 2022 draft with better stats than Georgia's Travon Walker. But after his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine that included a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at 6'5", 272 pounds, you'd be hard-pressed to find one who had more athletic upside.

    That got Walker drafted first overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and per Demetrius Harvey of Big Cat Country, his upside still holds great appeal for Jacksonville defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell:

    "You think about the size – his height, his weight, his speed – it's like a unicorn. He is unique. He plays that way and you see it on tape. You see the burst, you see the speed, you see the moves he has. We are excited about him and I think he will be ready to roll. We are going to try to mold him and let him take off and go."

    Walker's stats last year at Georgia (33 tackles, 7.5 sacks) won't blow anyone away. But the strength and explosiveness he displays on tape does. It may take the Jags a little time to harness it, but once they do, Walker has the potential to be a difference-maker.

1.02: Detroit Lions

2 of 32

    Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan

    The New Pick: Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan

    There wasn't a more obvious first-round pick than Michigan edge-rusher Aidan Hutchinson at No. 2. The Detroit Lions badly needed to bolster their pass rush, and Hutchinson had been wildly productive in Ann Arbor in 2021, amassing 16.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks on the way to finishing as runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.

    Head coach Dan Campbell told reporters earlier this month that nothing has made the Lions reconsider their decision:

    "He's been all business. I told my wife this last night. I was like, 'you know what’s great about him is he's quietly getting better right in front of us.' He doesn't say anything. He listens. He's like a sponge in there. He absorbs the information. He watches how things are done and the way coaches want them done and then he's got a motor and he goes. He learns and gets better every day. You just see it. So, I love that about him. Every day, there's growth right in front of us."

    Hutchinson was easily the most pro-ready of this year's top edge-rushing prospects. And it's not hard to see why he's the betting favorite at DraftKings to be named Defensive Rookie of the Year.

1.03: Houston Texans

3 of 32

    David Becker/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

    The New Pick: Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

    We have our first changeup. Derek Stingley Jr. may wind up being an excellent cornerback and a defensive difference-maker. But the LSU product was limited at OTAs while continuing his recovery from a Lisfranc injury and surgery, and that's enough of a reason for the Houston Texans to develop buyer's remorse.

    University of Cincinnati product Sauce Gardner has been out there with his new teammates on the New York Jets. The 6'3", 200-pound cornerback has already made a few impact plays in workouts, and while Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich acknowledged that there will be moments when Gardner looks like the rookie he is, he doesn't expect there to be that many.

    "He's going to have his lumps and his rookie moments, which they all do, but at the same time, there's not going be a lot of them," Ulbrich said, per ESPN's Rich Cimini. "Probably less than most."

    In this redraft, however, Gardner will be having those moments (both good and bad) with the Texans.

1.04: New York Jets

4 of 32

    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

    The New Pick: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon

    With Gardner off the board, the Jets are forced to take a different direction. And given that New York traded back into Round 1 in April to select Florida State edge-rusher Jermaine Johnson, adding pop to the pass rush makes sense.

    If there's a player in the class of 2022 with more athletic upside than Travon Walker, it's Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux, who went to the Giants at No. 5 overall in the real draft. There were times when the 6'4", 254-pound edge-rusher looked absolutely dominant in college. Unfortunately, there were also times when he all but disappeared.

    Dan Benton of Giants Wire noted that Thibodeaux's first summer in the NFL started off a bit bumpy. He has been a spectator for most workouts after suffering a "tweaked hip," per Dan Duggan of The Athletic .

    But there has been no indication that Thibodeaux's absence from practices is more than a precaution, and Giants guard Shane Lemieux (who played with Thibodeaux at Oregon) told reporters that Thibodeaux will show everyone why he was a top-five pick once he gets on the field.

    "He's the guy," Lemieux said early this month. "He's a real dude."

    Now he'll be showing that from the locker room on the opposite side of MetLife Stadium.

1.05: New York Giants

5 of 32

    David Becker/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon

    The New Pick: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

    The Giants did indeed select Neal in April. But in the actual draft, they didn't do so until seventh overall.

    The slot may have changed here, but one thing did not: Big Blue entered 2022 in desperate need of improvement along the offensive line. Per Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus, only two O-lines were worse than New York's in 2021.

    Enter Evan Neal, a 6'7", 351-pound mauler who started double-digit games at Alabama at left guard, right tackle and left tackle. Neal was Bleacher Report's top-ranked tackle in the class, and Texas offensive coordinator (and former Alabama OL coach) Kyle Flood told Lance Medow of the Giants Huddle podcast that he expects Neal's versatility to be a major asset at the next level (via Matt Citak of the team's official website):

    "He's a very unique combination of size, flexibility and explosion. I think that's why he can play both. When you play guard, you really need to be a short-area explosive player to win the line of scrimmage inside. Everything kind of happens faster in there than it does at tackle. But at tackle, you have to have the spatial awareness, you have to have the length, you have to have the ability to stop and start your body in space, and he does that really well, too. Left side, right side, he can play either side."

1.06: Carolina Panthers

6 of 32

    David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

    The New Pick: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

    We have already established that the Giants possessed the third-worst offensive line in 2021. There was only one team in the NFC that drew a lower O-line grade from Pro Football Focus: the Carolina Panthers.

    Given that glaring deficiency, it's not surprising that the Panthers settled on North Carolina State tackle Ikem Ekwonu, a fleet-footed 6'4", 310-pounder who Bleacher Report's Brandon Thorn wrote has an "unbelievable combination of size, power and athletic ability."

    Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo told Darin Gantt of the team's website he was equally impressed while watching tape of Ekwonu prior to the draft.

    "I was back home, and I was watching it with my son. They pitched the ball to the edge, and you just saw him come out of his stance, and the foot speed was really impressive to see, something you don't see a lot of. And then you get a chance to meet him, and you feel really good about the person. Obviously, he has a long way to go, and he has a lot to learn, and he's still a young guy. You know, they're still trying to figure out if it's pumped or stuffed at this point, but you certainly like his skill set, and you certainly like the person, and you look forward to playing with him."

    Nothing has happened since April to change Carolina's mind about this pick.

1.07: New York Giants (from Chicago Bears)

7 of 32

    Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

    The New Pick: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

    Things change quickly in the NFL. Just ask the Giants.

    They were at least entertaining the idea of moving on from veteran cornerback James Bradberry when the draft rolled around. But the G-Men couldn't find a dance partner willing to take on the veteran corner's salary, and eventually, they just released the 28-year-old.

    Bradberry is now in Philadelphia, and while his release afforded the Giants cap relief, his departure also left them with a sizable hole in the defensive backfield.

    That's where LSU corner Derek Stingley Jr. comes in.

    As has already been mentioned, Stingley's injured foot has slowed down his acclimation to the pros. But Mark Lane of Texans Wire reported the 6'1", 195-pounder has been making the most of his mental reps.

    "Great ball skills, athletic, smart, and willing to learn, asks a bunch of questions," Texans safety Jonathan Owens said of his teammate after minicamp June 14. "That's really a thing where you're a new guy, you're always going to be a sponge, anything anybody tells you."

    Stingley's injury issues and up-and-down collegiate career are genuine concerns. But his ceiling is as high as any player in this draft class.

1.08: Atlanta Falcons

8 of 32

    Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Drake London, WR, USC

    The New Pick: Drake London, WR, USC

    The Atlanta Falcons came into the offseason with needs galore on both sides of the ball. None was more pressing than at wide receiver, especially after Calvin Ridley received an indefinite suspension for gambling on football games last season.

    It's hardly a surprise that they spent their first pick on Drake London, a 6'4" 213-pound wideout who caught 88 passes and topped 1,000 yards last year for USC.

    Nothing has happened to deter Atlanta from sticking with its first pick.

    London posted the numbers he did last year despite a broken ankle that cut short his campaign at the end of October, and he told reporters after a minicamp practice earlier this month that he's glad to be back out there, even if it's just on a practice field:

    "Honestly, getting in the feel for playing football again has been great. I haven't really played since October. I've had a couple days, a couple weeks to get acclimated and get back. I'm still progressing, obviously. All this is new, but I'm going in the right direction. I'm going to be my hardest critic. That's how I've been since I was little. That's how I'll always be. Sometimes it can get the best of me, but I try not to let it show."

    To say that the Falcons need London to be a quick study is an understatement.

1.09: Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos)

9 of 32

    David Becker/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

    The New Pick: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

    The Seattle Seahawks were another team picking inside the top 10 that badly needed to upgrade the offensive line. So they used this pick obtained in the Russell Wilson trade to select Mississippi State tackle Charles Cross.

    B/R NFL Scout Brandon Thorn ranked the 6'5", 311-pounder who thrived in head coach Mike Leach's Air Raid offense as the third-best tackle in the draft class.

    "Overall," Thorn said, "Cross has a strong case for being the most polished and talented pass-blocker in the draft despite only 22 starts under his belt. He brings starter-level play strength and physicality as a run-blocker, making him an immediate-impact starter."

    Per John Boyle of the team's official website, when Cross was still on the board at No. 9, general manager John Schneider had an easy decision.

    "The guy just checks all the boxes," Schneider said. "When he was still there, it was a big deal."

    Nothing has occurred since April that would change Schneider's mind.

1.10: New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks)

10 of 32

    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

    The New Pick: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

    The Jets already saw their plans change in this redraft when Sauce Gardner was snagged out from under them by the Texans. But with this pick obtained in the Jamal Adams trade, the team is going to stick with the player it selected back on April 28.

    Garrett Wilson had quite the season at Ohio State in 2021, reeling in 70 passes for 1,058 yards and a dozen touchdowns. Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur did acknowledge, however, that the 6'0", 192-pound Wilson will have to toughen up at the NFL level.

    "He’s going to have to continue to learn how much more physical this level is, and that’s going to be especially when we put on the pads, and you go through that daily ringer going against our secondary," LaFleur said, per ESPN's Rich Cimini.

    With that said, though, Wilson has soft hands and may be the quickest wideout in and out of his breaks in the entire draft class. Pairing Wilson with Corey Davis and Elijah Moore gives the Jets a formidable trio of wide receivers.

    And that increases quarterback Zach Wilson's chances of making a considerable jump forward in Year 2 of his NFL career.

1.11: Washington Commanders

11 of 32

    David Becker/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State (by New Orleans Saints)

    The New Pick: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

    In this redraft, draft-day trades that solely involved picks are out the window. So rather than the Saints being on the clock, the selection reverts to the Washington Commanders.

    However, the pick itself remains the same.

    In the actual draft, the Commanders used their first pick on Penn State's Jahan Dotson at No. 16 in an effort to give Terry McLaurin a dependable running mate at wide receiver. But now that the team is picking earlier in the round, it can go with an Ohio State one-two punch by adding Chris Olave.

    Olave never had a 1,000-yard season in Columbus, but he was a consistently productive player with a nose for the end zone. Over four years, Olave scored a whopping 35 touchdowns.

    Per ESPN's Mike Triplett, Olave has already made quite the impression on quarterback Jameis Winston in New Orleans.

    "Smooth as the other side of the pillow," Winston said. "Just real smooth. He can get in and out of breaks very well. Electric. And smart, man."

    McLaurin and Olave actually played together for a season at Ohio State, and that relationship is just the cherry on top of this selection.

1.12: Minnesota Vikings

12 of 32

    Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama (by Detroit Lions)

    The New Pick: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

    This is another pick that changed hands on draft day. And as was the case with Washington, the Minnesota Vikings are going to address the same position they did on April 28, albeit with a different player.

    In the opinion of Ben Solak of The Ringer, Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton was more than just the top safety prospect in this class. The 6'4", 220-pounder was the No. 1 prospect regardless of position. When the Baltimore Ravens made Hamilton the 14th overall pick, Solak hailed the selection as arguably the best of the entire draft.

    "At Hamilton's size and explosiveness, he can make legit plays as a pass-rusher moving downhill. And with his length and coverage acumen, he can bail into pass defense and be equally effective. Hamilton was one of the premier players in all of college football, but he endured a predraft slide after a poor 40-yard dash [4.59 seconds]."

    After the Vikings traded back in the draft, they settled on Georgia safety Lewis Cine with the final pick of Round 1.

    This time around, Minnesota sacrifices the additional picks gained in that deal for an even better addition to the back end of the defense.

1.13: Houston Texans (from Cleveland Browns)

13 of 32

    John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia (by Philadelphia Eagles)

    The New Pick: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

    Noticing a trend yet? For the third time already, a pick swap has been reversed—and yet the same player winds up being taken.

    The Texans may have the most talent-deficient roster in the NFL. Given that harsh reality, it makes sense for them to take a "best player available" approach rather than to force a pick.

    That brings us to Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, a 6'6", 336-pound behemoth who is both ridiculously strong and remarkably agile for a player of his size.

    "Davis is a rare prospect based on his measurables alone," B/R's Derrik Klassen wrote in his scouting report for Davis. "There aren't many 6'6", 340-pound players period, let alone those as athletically gifted as he is. ... Davis' middling pass-rushing traits and the general value of defensive tackles may scare some teams off in the top 10, but he will be a force multiplier in the run game right away."

    Davis was B/R's No. 1 defensive lineman, and with reports coming from Philly that he's shedding weight and somehow adding(!) muscle, he has the look of an immediate impact player.

    The Texans need those in the worst way.

1.14: Baltimore Ravens

14 of 32

    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

    The New Pick: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

    As Ivan Lambert reported for Commanders Wire, Washington receivers coach Drew Terrell has been blown away by what he's seen from Penn State wideout Jahan Dotson, both on film and the practice field.

    "I was going back through his tape to try and find negative plays that I could press him on. And I was watching the tape and I was like, 'Nah, that play's not that bad.' 'Nah, that play's pretty good.' So I didn’t have that much negative to go off of. ... He's a smooth cat. He's what we expected him to be thus far in terms of his being a route-runner, his ball skills, his demeanor, not flinching from the moment and being able to come out here and gain confidence every day and execute every day."

    Unfortunately for the Commanders, in this redraft, Dotson never makes it to them at No. 16. Instead, he'll open his hypothetical career down the road at M&T Bank Stadium.

    It's not hard to connect the dots as to why the Ravens might pursue Dotson. After trading Marquise Brown during the draft, Baltimore's wideout corps is the thinnest in the AFC North and maybe the entire conference.

    There'd be a real chance that by the time Week 1 rolled around, Dotson would be Baltimore's No. 1 receiver.

1.15: Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins)

15 of 32

    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M (by Houston Texans)

    The New Pick: Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M

    Here we go again. For the fourth time in just the first half of Round 1, a picks swap has been undone, but the selection itself remains unchanged.

    The thing is, the players who were drafted in these spots fill similar needs regardless of which team is making the selection.

    The Philadelphia Eagles fielded a top-five offensive line last year, according to Pro Football Focus. But the two lowest-graded players on that line were the starting guards. And since the Eagles bolstered the offensive weaponry with the trade for wideout A.J. Brown, it makes sense to also fill the hole in front of 23-year-old quarterback Jalen Hurts.

    Kenyon Green of Texas A&M lined up at every position except center in college, but the 6'4", 323-pounder primarily played left guard. According to Nick Schwager of Battle Red Blog, Texans guard A.J. Cann is convinced that Green is going to be a difference-maker.

    "He's been working hard these last two weeks he has been here," Cann said. "He is going to be a hell of a player."

1.16: Philadelphia Eagles (from Indianapolis Colts)

16 of 32

    David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State (by Washington Commanders)

    The New Pick: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

    In the real 2022 draft, the Philadelphia Eagles upgraded their off-ball linebackers in the third round, halting the draft-day slide of Georgia's Nakobe Dean. That pick could wind up being one of the biggest steals of the draft.

    It can't be assumed that the Eagles would land Dean later in this redo. So this time, the team is going to go with an even surer bet at No. 16 overall.

    After Devin Lloyd piled up 111 tackles and seven sacks for the Utes in 2021, the Jacksonville Jaguars made him the first off-ball linebacker selected this year at No. 27 overall. Per Kole Emplit of News4JAX, Lloyd feels like he's acclimating well to the increased speed of the NFL.

    "I feel really good on the field, and my play speed has increased," Lloyd said. "I'm feeling comfortable, growing every day, and the first month has been great with the team."

    The off-ball linebackers have been an issue in Philly so long that fans have taken to publicly begging Eagles general manager Howie Roseman to draft one.

    In this redraft, those prayers are answered early. The 6'3", 235-pound Lloyd may not have the ceiling Dean does, but he's a high-floor NFL-ready player who would help the team immediately.

1.17: Los Angeles Chargers

17 of 32

    Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Zion Johnson, G, Boston College

    The New Pick: Zion Johnson, G, Boston College

    We're finally back to a team that's in the same spot it was a couple of months ago.

    And the Los Angeles Chargers are sticking to their guns and selecting the same player.

    As Carmen Vitali wrote for Draft Network, Zion Johnson was one of the most versatile O-line prospects in his class. The 6'3", 316-pounder has played tackle and guard and has experience in both zone and power-blocking schemes. Johnson said in March he's comfortable doing whatever is asked of him in the NFL:

    "I don't say I have a preference because I know thinking back to 2019 I love running power, pulling. But there's a lot of things I like about the zone scheme. I mean, wide zone is something that at BC we tried to pride ourselves on working with Coach [Jeff] Hafley's offense. That's something that I've grown to love."

    The Chargers fielded a top-10 offensive line last year, per Pro Football Focus, but the right tackle and guard spots could both use an upgrade.

    Given Johnson's experience, athleticism and versatility, he should step into a significant role off the jump for a team with aspirations of making a deep playoff run.

1.18: New Orleans Saints

18 of 32

    Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas (by Tennessee Titans)

    The New Pick: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

    This pick might elicit a groan or two from Saints fans.

    After all, the team already has one wide receiver (Michael Thomas) trying to rebound from an ankle injury that cost him the 2021 season, a quarterback (Jameis Winston) rehabbing an ACL tear and a running back (Alvin Kamara) who could be suspended six games under the league's personal-conduct policy after being charged with battery resulting in substantial bodily harm.

    But sometimes, you just have to draft talent.

    As Eric Woodyard reported for ESPN, there's no telling when Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams might be ready to return to field after tearing his ACL in the national championship game in January. Lions head coach Dan Campbell said that he doesn't expect the 6'1", 180-pounder to be available for the start of training camp.

    But in terms of raw talent, Williams is as good as any of the wideouts in this ridiculously deep crop. His balance, body control, long speed and hands are all excellent.

    A healthy Williams would give the Saints a downfield threat who's capable of taking the top off defenses—a target that Winston's big arm would be more than capable of hitting.

    Think long scores. Lots of them.

1.19: Tennessee Titans (from Philadelphia Eagles)

19 of 32

    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa (by New Orleans Saints)

    The New Pick: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

    It's hardly a surprise that the Tennessee Titans drafted a wide receiver at No. 18 overall. After they sent A.J. Brown packing, the position became their most glaring need.

    However, the player they selected (Treylon Burks of Arkansas) has struggled to acclimate to the pros, missing workouts because of asthma. Given that development, it's fair to wonder whether the Titans are already experiencing some drafter's remorse.

    However, thanks to the Saints taking Jameson Williams one pick earlier, the Titans are stuck. Grabbing another wide receiver would mean ostensibly reaching for a second-round talent.

    So it's a hold-and-hope for a team that just last year was the AFC's top seed. After all, Tennessee drafted Burks for a reason, and wide receivers coach Rob Moore told reporters he remains confident that Burks will impress once he gets on the field.

    "He understands what the expectations are," Moore said. "I'm excited about Treylon and what he's going to be able to bring to this football team. He just has to get himself healthy and show everybody out here on the field what he's capable of."

    Fingers crossed.

1.20: Pittsburgh Steelers

20 of 32

    Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

    The New Pick: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

    There likely isn't a 2022 first-round pick facing more pressure than Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett. It's not just a matter of the hometown kid making the jump from the Panthers to the Steelers. Pickett is also being tasked with replacing perhaps the best quarterback the franchise has ever known in Ben Roethlisberger.

    Terry Bradshaw has the edge in rings, but Roethlisberger has well over twice as many passing yards and 206 more touchdown passes. In any event, it's a debate for another day.

    Pickett was the last first-round pick to sign his rookie deal. But he has been in attendance at OTAs and minicamp, and wide receiver Chase Claypool told the I Am Athlete podcast (h/t Matt Hladik of The Spun) that he has liked what he has seen so far from the 6'3", 220-pounder:

    "[Pickett] looks good. He's mobile. He's faster than people think, so that's going to be new for us. And I think it's going to create plays. You see so many of [Ja'Marr Chase's] plays and [Tee Higgins'] plays are from Joe [Burrow] leaving the pocket and making plays happen. And you know, we're young, we're versatile, we're dynamic, so he's going to add to that."

    Pickett wasn't Bleacher Report's top-ranked quarterback in the class of 2022. But he was obviously Pittsburgh's top target as the first signal-caller off the board.

    There's no reason the Steelers would divert from that plan now.

1.21: New England Patriots

21 of 32

    Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington (by Kansas City Chiefs)

    The New Pick: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

    In the 2022 draft, the Patriots flipped this pick to the Kansas City Chiefs before making what many consider the biggest reach of Round 1 in drafting Chattanooga guard Cole Strange.

    This time around, there will be no trade. And no Strange pick. But the Patriots will stick with a small-school player.

    Trevor Penning may have played at Northern Iowa, but the 6'7", 332-pounder was one of the big winners of the predraft process, impressing with his strength, agility and mean streak and ultimately going 19th overall to New Orleans. According to John DeShazier of the Saints' official website, Penning has been working on refining his footwork:

    "[In] college, we didn't spend a ton of time with it. It was more kind of basic. Now, we're kind of getting really detailed about it, just really working on that. Using your feet – that's kind of your base of how everything else happens. So with your punch, it comes from the power of your feet and your hips. So getting them planted, getting the perfect set angle, that's kind of what I've been working on."

    You can never have too many good offensive linemen, especially when your team is built on winning at the point of attack.

1.22: Green Bay Packers (from Las Vegas Raiders)

22 of 32

    Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Quay Walker, LB, Georgia

    The New Pick: Quay Walker, LB, Georgia

    The Green Bay Packers sent some eyebrows skyward when they once again eschewed adding a wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers in the first round, using one of the picks obtained in the Davante Adams trade to select Georgia linebacker Quay Walker. The pick was doubly curious given that Walker's teammate Nakobe Dean was ranked higher on most draft boards.

    However, there's been nothing to indicate the Packers regret their pick. In fact, per ESPN's Rob Demovsky, defensive coordinator Joe Barry appears to have big things planned for Walker in his first NFL campaign:

    "The Packers don't often throw rookies in with the starters right away, but Walker lined up next to inside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell from Day 1. What's more, defensive coordinator Joe Barry seems intent on playing more with two ILBs on the field as much as possible, and it's because of Walker. He has shown more sub-packages with both Walker and Campbell on the field than he usually does with two inside linebackers."

    If Walker does wind up starting opposite Campbell off the jump, what was considered a curious pick will have to be considered a solid one.

1.23: Baltimore Ravens (from Arizona Cardinals)

23 of 32

    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida (by Buffalo Bills)

    The New Pick: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

    In April, the Ravens flipped this pick acquired in the Marquise Brown trade to the Buffalo Bills, added a little draft capital and then selected Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum at No. 25 overall.

    The only thing that's changing here is the slide back is being eliminated. Given the success Baltimore has long enjoyed on draft day, once it settles on a target, it's a good bet that prospect will pan out.

    There was little doubt that the 6'2", 305-pound Linderbaum could play. He was just about universally considered the best center in his draft class. And as Clifton Brown wrote for the Ravens' official website, nothing that happened in OTAs has shaken that confidence:

    "Linderbaum looked sharp and decisive during OTAs and minicamp. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman joked that he wanted to keep Linderbaum 'laying in bed shaking every night' worrying about his responsibilities. But the Ravens are resting easy with the decision to draft Linderbaum."

    It's almost as if Eric DeCosta is a good general manager or something.

1.24: Dallas Cowboys

24 of 32

    Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Tyler Smith, OL, Tulsa

    The New Pick: Tyler Smith, OL, Tulsa

    For several years, the offensive line has been a strength for the Dallas Cowboys. The team sported the No. 1 unit last year, per Pro Football Focus. But that line suffered significant losses in the offseason, with right tackle La'el Collins and left guard Connor Williams both moving on in free agency.

    Dallas hopes to have an in-house replacement for Collins in Terence Steele, but the team looked to the draft for a starter at left guard, settling on Tulsa's Tyler Smith with the 24th overall pick.

    Smith played at both the left guard and tackle spots in OTAs, and while head coach Mike McCarthy admitted that it hasn't been easy, he applauded to progress the 6'6", 332-pounder has made.

    "He's doing very well. It's tough," McCarthy told reporters. "There's no doubt about it. It's tough. We're just trying to be smart, how we do it. We don't want to hold up progress just based off of two positions. I think he's done a nice job so far."

    Given that endorsement, even if team owner Jerry Jones were afforded a second bite at the apple, it's unlikely that he would do anything differently.

1.25: Buffalo Bills

25 of 32

    Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Tyler Linderbaum, OC, Iowa (by Baltimore Ravens)

    The New Pick: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

    The Bills' roster stacks up favorably against just about any squad. But the team isn't without its flaws. With Levi Wallace gone and Tre'Davious White coming back from a torn ACL, cornerback is one of the bigger ones.

    In the actual draft, McDuffie was already off the board by this point. The Chiefs traded up to select the 5'11, 195-pounder at 21st overall. Per B/R NFL Scout Cory Giddings, McDuffie is an athletic defensive back who's capable of thriving in a number of schemes:

    "McDuffie is a crafty cornerback with the skills to play in multiple schemes and positions in an NFL secondary. He is a top-notch athlete with very good speed, with the fluidity to sink his hips and quickly get out of breaks. McDuffie performs best in zone coverage, where he can see routes develop in front of him, along with quick-release balls that he can anticipate and jump."

    McDuffie may not have the athleticism of Kaiir Elam (whom the Bills drafted at No. 23 overall on April 28). But he's more polished in coverage and appears to be the more pro-ready of the pair.

    Buffalo needs someone who can play right away.

1.26: Tennessee Titans

26 of 32

    Joshua Bessex/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Jermaine Johnson II, Edge, Florida State (by New York Jets)

    The New Pick: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

    On April 28, the Titans played Let's Make a Deal with this pick, resulting in the Jets landing edge-rusher Jermaine Johnson II and the 101st pick and the Titans receiving the 35th, 69th and 163rd picks.

    Monty Hall has been banned from this do-over, though, so the smart play is for the Titans to bolster a secondary that lacks depth behind Kristian Fulton and Caleb Farley.

    Kaiir Elam had something of an up-and-down 2021 season at Florida. But the 6'1", 191-pounder oozes upside and athleticism. Buffalo veteran safety Micah Hyde told reporters he sees a lot of Tre'Davious White in Elam's game.

    "You can already tell he listens. He pays attention. You can tell as I'm saying stuff he's taking mental notes. That's how Tre’Davious was when he first got here. He was battling on the football field which is what Kaiir is doing, but also just learning from his mistakes and learning from the older guys."

    There are certainly worse players to be compared to.

1.27: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

27 of 32

    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah (by Jacksonville Jaguars)

    The New Pick: Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia

    In the draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded out of the first round altogether, moving back to early on Day 2 before selecting University of Houston defensive lineman Leon Hall.

    We'll get to him in a minute.

    Here, that is off the table. So instead the Buccaneers are going to address the same position with an even better prospect.

    Devonte Wyatt spent much of his career playing in the shadow of Jordan Davis at Georgia. But, as Natalie Miller wrote at Draft Wire, the 6'3", 304-pounder is a first-round talent who is more than capable of making quarterbacks miserable:

    "In the pass rush, Wyatt excels at multiple levels, slamming his hands into the chest of linemen before slipping underneath and pushing through blocks with next-level quickness. His hands and feet work in tandem to push through blocks and allow his quickness to take over."

    The Buccaneers brought in Akiem Hicks in free agency to replace the departed Ndamukong Suh, but Hicks, 32, is at best a short-term Band-Aid.

    Wyatt has the talent to be a longtime starter on the defensive front for head coach Todd Bowles.

1.28: Green Bay Packers

28 of 32

    Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia

    The New Pick: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

    There's nothing worse than coming up one pick short of landing the player you covet. It's why so many teams trade up, even if it's just a few spots. But that's the situation the Packers find themselves in after the Buccaneers swooped in for Wyatt.

    Now, the Packers could just take a wideout here. But as general manager Brian Gutekunst has shown time and again, he has no interest in taking a receiver in Round 1.

    They could also use depth in the secondary, which could put a player like Clemson's Andrew Booth Jr. in play here. The 6'0" 194-pounder has some injury issues, but Lance Zierlein of compared him to longtime standout Janoris Jenkins:

    "A press/zone combo corner with good size and length, Booth plays with an urgent, competitive nature. He has the strength, balance and foot agility to press and slow the release. He has limited starting experience, though. He will need more development to prevent route specialists from manipulating his feet and hips. Booth has the ball-tracking and play strength to find and maintain top-dog positioning through catch tries."

    Booth is also capable of playing both outside and in the slot, which could set him up for early playing time.

    Much like offensive linemen, you can never have too many good corners.

1.29: Kansas City Chiefs (from Miami Dolphins via San Francisco 49ers)

29 of 32

    Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Cole Strange, G, Chattanooga (by New England Patriots)

    The New Pick: Jermaine Johnson II, Edge, Florida State

    There's good news and bad news for the Chiefs as they head into back-to-back picks here.

    We'll hit the good news first, because optimism.

    Thanks to the lack of pick swaps in this redraft, there's a player available at a position of need who wasn't on April 28, someone the Chiefs would all but certainly pounce on.

    As a senior at Florida State in 2021, Jermaine Johnson II exploded for 17.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks, numbers that inspired the Jets to trade back into Round 1 to take the 6'5", 262-pounder at No. 26 overall.

    Earlier this month, Johnson told Ethan Greenberg of the Jets' official website that he's intent on showing that he was worth that first-round pick.

    "It felt cool," he said. "It was finally like the milestone reach, but like I always like to say, 'I hit the top of the mountain, so I can focus on climbing the next one.'"

    The Chiefs spent a first-round pick on George Karlaftis—who we'll, again, get to shortly—but Johnson is a more statistically proven option with a higher athletic ceiling.

    Sorry, George.

1.30: Kansas City Chiefs

30 of 32

    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue

    The New Pick: Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn

    Now comes the bad news in Kansas City.

    In the real draft, the Chiefs traded up to No. 21 to obtain Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie. The reason why isn't hard to see. Outside of L'Jarius Sneed, Kansas City's cornerbacks are a glaring weak spot. But here, McDuffie is gone. So is Kaiir Elam. And even Andrew Booth Jr.

    On some level, doubling up on the edge and drafting Karlaftis anyway is a tempting idea. But there's a second-round cornerback available who has impressed enough in the early going to sneak into the back of Round 1.

    That cornerback is Auburn's Roger McCreary, whom the Titans drafted at No. 35 after a trade up with the Jets. Tennessee defensive coordinator Shane Bowen singled out McCreary for praise while speaking to reporters at OTAs.

    "I think the thing that stands out to me about him—he is competitive in everything he does," Bowen said. "In the meeting room, he wants to have all the right answers all the time, and that's unrealistic as a rookie. … He's come in and done a really great job."

    The Chiefs don't just need talent in the secondary. They need a polished corner who can challenge for playing time right away.

    The 5'11", 190-pound McCreary is that player, having appeared in 42 games at Auburn.

1.31: Cincinnati Bengals

31 of 32

    Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan

    The New Pick: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan

    Time to get back to being boring.

    The Cincinnati Bengals did an excellent job of addressing their biggest need in the offseason, adding three veteran starters along the offensive line.

    But the secondary was also an area of concern, whether on the boundary at corner opposite Chidobe Awuzie or at safety with Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III both in contract years (and Bates in a dispute over playing under the franchise tag).

    The Bengals addressed the secondary in Round 1, taking Michigan safety Daxton Hill at No. 31 overall. Hill did a little bit of everything for the Wolverines, and Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo told reporters that he expects him to become a disruptive force in relatively short order.

    "I think that's something that he can bring for sure," he said. "And again, it's not just picking balls off. This guy can blitz. He can sack, fumbles, all those different things. So he brings a wide variety of skills that we think can help in that area for sure.

    Karlaftis merits serious consideration here as well, as the Bengals can use some youth on the edge. But sometimes, if a thing isn't broken, the smartest play is to avoid the temptation to fix it.

1.32: Detroit Lions (from Los Angeles Rams)

32 of 32

    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    The Old Pick: Lewis Cine, S, Georgia (by Minnesota Vikings)

    The New Pick: Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

    That's right. We're ending this redraft with a bang.

    There isn't a quarterback in this year's class who received a steadier stream of praise from pundits and coaches than Desmond Ridder, who went the Atlanta Falcons in the third round at No. 74 overall.

    While speaking to reporters earlier this month, Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith said that the former Bearcats standout is substantially ahead of where he expected him to be in his development:

    "Behind the scenes, the things that he has done, as a rookie, really from the neck up. How he’s operating, when we’re doing the rookie walkthroughs, when we do these installations and on the field, and his command. Then you're betting on some of the physical things you see at times to catch up. He's light-years ahead of most young quarterbacks, in terms of playing from the neck up. I will give him that compliment.."

    The Lions are essentially stuck with Jared Goff's abomination of a contract for one more season, but they can extricate themselves with a reasonable dead-cap hit in 2023. Few people view Goff as more than a stopgap under center.

    Had the team drafted Ridder instead of trading the pick to the Vikings, it could have pulled a Lamar Jackson, landing a talented young quarterback who could be under team control on an affordable deal through 2026.

    Whether the Lions had Ridder compete with Goff or gave him a redshirt year in 2022, having him would have afforded them options.

    If Ridder winds up being a quality NFL starter, this decision could haunt Detroit for some time.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.