The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft is over and it was a wild night. Here's our look at the biggest winners from the first round of this year's draft.
A few weeks ago everyone thought Aidan Hutchinson would be the top pick in the draft. All of a sudden things changed about 10 days ago and Walker was rumored to be Jacksonville's pick at No. 1. Walker's college numbers won't blow you away, he only posted six sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss for Georgia in 2021. That said, virtually every draft expert is blown away by what he does on film despite not putting up numbers.
Walker is 6-foot-5, 272 pounds and versatile. He lined up at tackle and defensive end. He'll be an edge in the NFL. He has explosion as a pass rusher and opened things up for the rest of his excellent defensive linemates at Georgia. He's a huge winner, though, because he rapidly rose from being in the bottom of the top 10 to the top player selected in the course of a few days.
After the Jaguars took Walker at No. 1, the Lions likely sprinted to the podium with their pick. They wound up with the consensus best player in the draft and he's a local boy to boot. Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson will make an impact right away. He's a beast at 6-foot-7, 260 pounds and has an incredible motor off-the-edge. He'll fit perfectly in the Lions' 4-3 front.
The Lions also made a bold move, jumping 20 spots from 32 to 12 to select Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams. Williams was considered by many to be the top wideout in this draft before tearing his ACL during the national championship game. If he gets healthy and returns to his previous form, this could be an absolute steal.
All-in-all a great night for the Lions.
New York Giants
The Giants are finally building the right way. The allowed Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux to fall to them at No. 5, securing the player with arguably the highest ceiling in the entire draft. Then at No. 7 they took an absolute physical beast in Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal.
New York badly needed some pop off the edge and, at his best, Thibodeaux is incredible. There are questions about his motor, etc. but no one has any doubts about his talent. Neal is a dominant run blocker who will bookend with Andrew Thomas to create possibly the best tackle tandem in the NFL. The Giants were awful in pass protection last year, Neal will help.
The Ravens really needed to find a new safety to patrol the back of their defense, and the best in the draft fell to them at 14. No one expected Notre Dame's Kyle Hamilton to be on the board that late, but Baltimore always seems to have everything fall its way on draft day. They also landed by far the best center in the draft at No. 25 (Iowa's Tyler Linderbaum) to fill a big need.
Hamilton will immediately become an elite safety. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder can do everything required of the position and is a playmaker. He should be a favorite to win Rookie of the Year. Linderbaum is a tad undersized but he's smart and a great run blocker. He fits the Ravens so well and he was absolutely worth the pick at No. 25.
New York Jets
The Jets did well in the draft? The Jets did well in the draft! New York needed to exit the first round with a cornerback and a wide receiver. Mission accomplished. At the fourth pick they wound up with the consensus best cornerback in the draft and at No. 10 they got the consensus best wideout in the draft. They also filled a need at defensive end by taking advantage of a guy dropping rapidly. Can't do much better than that.
They snagged Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner -- who wore a sick necklace to the draft -- at No. 4 and grabbed Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson with the 10th pick (check out his outfit here). Gardner was the best corner in this draft. They also traded up to No. 26 to select the rapidly falling Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson II.
At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds he is a force in press coverage and has elite speed. Big and fast with great instincts is a great combination. Wilson is a speedy big-play guy with excellent body control. He's not big but has adequate size at 6-foot and 183 pounds. He'll immediately give Zach Wilson a top target to throw to. Johnson was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 and fell for unknown reasons. The Jets needed some pop off-the-edge and they got it in the 6-foot-5, 254-pound well-rounded end.