Here’s a look at some first-round winners and losers.
Jets, Jets, Jets… They used the fourth pick on Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad (Sauce) Gardner. They used the 10th choice on Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson. And even then, they weren’t done. The Jets traded back up into the first round to get the 26th selection and end the draft-night plummet of Florida State pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II. They ended up with three players projected by many observers to go in the upper half of the opening round.
Giants… The other residents of MetLife Stadium also did well, using the fifth pick on pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and the seventh choice on offensive tackle Evan Neal. It was all set up for the new brain trust of General Manager Joe Schoen and Coach Brian Daboll to do well. And they did. They didn’t mess anything up on draft night, which is far more than could be said about the previous Giants’ football decision-makers.
Trades… Plenty of trades were expected, and plenty materialized. There were nine of them during the opening round. The 11th, 12th and 13th overall picks all changed hands on draft night. Veteran wide receivers A.J. Brown of Tennessee and Marquise Brown of Baltimore were traded. It all was part of an ongoing trend during this NFL offseason, which has been filled with significant swaps.
Georgia defense… Five players on Georgia’s championship-winning defense were chosen in the first round, beginning with pass rusher Travon Walker going first overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was joined by defensive tackles Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt, linebacker Quay Walker and safety Lewis Cine. And that was with linebacker Nakobe Dean being passed over. Perhaps the Georgia defense simply should have remained intact and applied for NFL membership.
Wide receivers… It has been an offseason of big trades and big contracts for wide receivers, and they also were prominent on draft night. Six were taken in the opening round, all within a span of 11 picks between Nos. 8 and 18. Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Jameson Williams were taken on consecutive choices at Nos. 10, 11 and 12. The Titans used the No. 18 selection that they received from the Philadelphia Eagles in the A.J. Brown trade to take a replacement, Treylon Burks.
A.J. Brown… The former Pro Bowl wideout got the big deal that he wanted, agreeing to a four-year contract extension worth about $100 million, in conjunction with the trade that sent him from the Titans to the Eagles. He lands in a decent situation in Philadelphia, as a receiving complement to DeVonta Smith.
Baker Mayfield… The Carolina Panthers didn’t take a quarterback. The Seattle Seahawks didn’t take a quarterback. Those teams remain — at least for now, pending possible draft moves Friday — possible trade partners with the Cleveland Browns for Mayfield.
Rams… They have their Super Bowl trophy. They have their luxurious draft house. And they didn’t have to bother with all that angst and craziness Thursday night.
Aaron Rodgers… The quarterback rightly should have expected the Packers, after trading away Davante Adams, to use one of their two opening-round picks on a wide receiver. It didn’t happen. At least Green Bay didn’t take another quarterback.
Patrick Mahomes… It wasn’t much better for Mahomes. The Chiefs, after trading away Tyreek Hill, also declined to use either of their first-rounders on a wideout.
The 2022 QB class… So much for NFL teams always taking quarterbacks too soon. This wasn’t supposed to be a quarterback-centric draft. And it wasn’t. Quarterback-needy teams stayed away. Only Kenny Pickett, taken 20th by the Pittsburgh Steelers, came off the board Thursday. Malik Willis, Matt Corral, Desmond Ridder and Sam Howell remain available for Friday’s Round 2.
Saints, Lions… Trading up for a wide receiver is fine. But trading up for a wide receiver while surrendering the sort of draft assets normally associated with trading up for a quarterback—when other very good wideouts remain available—is not so fine. The Saints gave up third- and fourth-round picks to Washington to move up from 16th to 11th to get Chris Olave. The Lions gave up second- and third-rounders to move up 20 spots, from 32nd to 12th, to get Jameson Williams. They’re good players. But they’re not that good.
Running backs, tight ends… They were nowhere to be found Thursday night.
Texans… That was too soon for Derek Stingley Jr., with the Texans taking him third overall. Stingley is a great talent. He could become a superb NFL cornerback. But that’s far from certain. He was not a great player at LSU since his first collegiate season, and there have been injury issues. The Texans have too many needs and there were too many very good offensive tackles available.
Deebo Samuel… He stays put in San Francisco, as the 49ers failed to accommodate his trade request. It’s difficult to envision a trade coming together now, with the first round done.
It’s hard to believe a quarterback as accomplished and polished as Desmond Ridder and one with as much raw potential as Malik Willis both went unpicked through the first round. Both passers have their flaws, especially Willis, who may have to sit and learn for a season after playing in an unsophisticated system at Liberty. But the benefit to hitting on a quarterback is so vast that their plusses far outweigh their detriments. Give credit to quarterback-bereft teams like the Falcons, Panthers and Seahawks for knowing they could wait until the second round. But even if they do grab a quarterback, they won’t have the fifth-year option that comes with a first-round pick. It’s hard to square the primacy of the position and how disregarded it has been tonight.
The Kansas City Chiefs, like the Green Bay Packers, chose not to participate in the wide receiver frenzy in the first round of this NFL draft.
The Chiefs used the 30th overall pick on Purdue pass rusher George Karlaftis.
The Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill this offseason. The Packers dealt Davante Adams. But with four first-round choices between them, they did not take a wide receiver. In fact, they opted for four defensive players.
The Chiefs get Karlaftis after trading up to use the 21st pick on cornerback Trent McDuffie.
The New England Patriots, never afraid to make an unconventional first-round choice, took Chattanooga guard Cole Strange with the 29th overall selection.
The Patriots made the pick after trading down eight spots in a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Few had regarded Strange as a likely first-rounder. But he fortifies the middle of the New England offensive line after the Patriots often relied on their running game last season to take pressure off then-rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
The Green Bay Packers really like Georgia’s defense.
First-round wide receivers? Not so much.
The Packers used the 28th overall pick on Georgia defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt. That’s after they used the 22nd choice on Georgia linebacker Quay Walker.
So much for Green Bay using a first-round selection to help quarterback Aaron Rodgers by drafting a top wide receiver. The Packers traded Davante Adams this offseason. But while six wideouts have been taken in this opening round of this NFL draft, the Packers have been non-participants there.
The Green Bay Packers are trolling convention wisdom and everyone involved in the NFL’s current wide receiver obsession. I love it, especially because you know Aaron Rodgers will feel some type of way about it. The Packers just do what they do, no matter what. Sometimes, their way limits their ceiling, but it sustains success.
The Green Bay Packers have had luck in their draft history with taking wide receivers after the first round — they took Davante Adams in the second a little less than a decade ago. It’s still a bit of an upset that the Packers passed on wideouts with both of their first-round picks rather than trying to replace Adams. The Packers instead came away with Georgia linebacker Quay Walker and Georgia defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt. GM Brian Gutekunst has a thing for Georgia defensive players — he took Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes in the first round last year. The Packers are still desperate for a wide receiver, but it’ll have to come in a later round (or maybe yet another blockbuster wide receiver trade).
Jaguars choose Devin Lloyd 27th after trading back into first round
Two opening-round picks weren’t enough for the New York Jets.
They traded back up into the first round and ended the draft-night plummet of Florida State pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II, taking him with the 26th overall choice.
The Jets added their third first-round pick via a trade with the Tennessee Titans.
Johnson had been regarded as a possible top-10 selection. Instead, he becomes part of the Jets’ draft-night haul. They took cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner with the fourth overall choice and wide receiver Garrett Wilson with the 10th pick.
The Jets will get a lot of love for their first-round draft picks, and rightfully so. Picking at No. 4, 10 and 26, they came away with cornerback Sauce Gardner, wide receiver Garrett Wilson and pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II. That’s great value, great athleticism, great explosiveness, great diversity of skills. It looks to be a nice haul for General Manager Joe Douglas, who really needed to have a banner draft as he approaches his third anniversary running the franchise.
Ravens, after trading Marquise Brown to Cardinals, take Tyler Linderbaum
The Baltimore Ravens, following a series of moves, used the 25th overall pick on Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum.
It was the second choice of the opening round for the Ravens, who used the No. 14 selection on safety Kyle Hamilton.
Linderbaum becomes the first center and eighth offensive lineman taken.
The Ravens traded wide receiver Marquise Brown and a third-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for the No. 23 choice. Then they traded down two spots, via a deal with the Buffalo Bills, before choosing Linderbaum.
Brown leaves the Ravens after three seasons in which he totaled 195 catches for 2,361 yards and 21 touchdowns. He had 91 catches for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns last season.
The trade reunites Brown with Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, his former college teammate at Oklahoma.
Has any team navigated draft night better than the Ravens? Probably not. They waited patiently and took safety Kyle Hamilton, a unique talent, with the 14th pick. They turned Marquise Brown and a third-round pick into No. 23 overall. Given the receiving talent in the NFL right now, it’s easy to find a player of Brown’s caliber. The Ravens effectively recouped that mid-round pick by moving from 23rd to 25th in a trade with the Buffalo Bills. The Ravens used that pick to take Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum, who is regarded as one of the surest things in the draft. They’ve squeezed a ton of value out tonight.
Pretty savvy of the Chiefs to trade up to No. 21, jumping in front of the Packers. Both teams traded their elite wideouts this offseason, and both have an obvious need to replace. The Chiefs ensured they’ll get their pick of the remaining wideouts before Green Bay takes its swing.
In all my years covering the NFL, I can’t remember a period in which there was such a strong difference in opinion among teams about how to value wide receivers. During free agency, the trade season and now this draft, some teams have been borderline reckless in adding good pass-catching talent to their rosters. Others — several of whom are offensive trendsetters — have been patient and surprisingly willing to unload difficult-to-replicate players. Who’s right? The search for the answer will be one of the most fascinating themes of the next few seasons.
I’m a little surprised the Commanders didn’t prefer a bigger receiver because they have similar-sized Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel (if he stays healthy), but it’s hard to be disappointed with the Jahan Dotson pick. He’s a smooth route runner with such a natural feel for the position. I still think Washington could use a bigger target, but perhaps that can be a middle- or late-round aspiration. After trading down, they have the optionality. In terms of value, cornerback would’ve been a better option at No. 16, the way the first round has gone. But you have to trust your draft board.
The wild early run on wide receivers and a couple of other peculiar picks really made the night easy for the Baltimore Ravens, who don’t need any help drafting. Safety Kyle Hamilton fell to them at No. 14, and as usual, the Ravens will be credited with making a good pick. Hamilton is my favorite player in this draft class because he’s so positionally fluid for a safety. No matter the scheme, no matter his responsibilities, he will find a way to make an impact. It’s impossible to duplicate his unique, instinctual skill set. Defense in today’s NFL is all about interchangeable playmakers who are physical but can play in space. Hamilton is a genre-bending talent.
The Eagles are an analytically progressive organization, but they just made a very non-analytically friendly move. They squandered draft capital to move up to 13th overall, and they used that pick to take Jordan Davis, who was a great player at Georgia. But Davis plays defensive tackle and hasn’t shown much ability to rush the passer. Davis is the first player at a non-premium position to be selected. It may work out if the Eagles found their long-term replacement for Fletcher Cox, but man, this does not feel like an Eagles move.
Credit to the Lions for being so aggressive in moving up to pick Jameson Williams, who may have been a top-five pick if not for a torn ACL. The Lions aren’t in position to win next year, so his timetable makes sense for them. But the Lions gave up an awful lot. They probably could have drafted a quarterback with the 32nd overall pick they shipped to the Vikings. They also could have stood pat and drafted one of the gaggle of great wide receiving prospects — Georgia’s George Pickens, perhaps? Teams are paying a lot right now to move up for wideouts and, in Philadelphia’s case, a defensive tackle in Jordan Davis who, while a major talent, hasn’t shown a propensity to rushing the passer.
The Commanders made a great move trading back. In this draft, deepened by the number of players who stayed in school last year after covid-impacted 2020, third- and fourth-round picks are more valuable than usual. They got one of each and moved down only five picks to 16th overall, where it’s likely Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie, a strong prospect at a premium position of need, will still be available. It may have been tough to pass up Chris Olave, a polished wideout from Ohio State, but Washington reaped a lot of value by being patient — not exactly a trait the franchise has been known for.
We’ll see how it plays out in reality, but on paper, both New York teams made good use of their multiple top-10 picks. This was that city’s time to shine at the top of this event, and both seemingly did really well. The Giants must be thrilled to be have come away with perhaps the most gifted talent of the entire draft at No. 5 in Kayvon Thibodeaux and then get a well-regarded right tackle in the seventh spot in Evan Neal. The Jets ended up with a potential shutdown cornerback at No. 4 (Sauce Gardner) and the best receiving prospect at No. 10 (Garrett Wilson), who could make life a little easier for quarterback Zach Wilson.The New York teams can stop dominating attention now, but it seems they did their thing.
The Jets took full advantage of having two picks in the top 10. Sauce Gardner may have been the best cornerback in the draft, and Garrett Wilson — a player often compared to Stefon Diggs who was absurdly productive at Ohio State — might be the best wide receiver. The Jets have quickly built a solid stable of young skill players around Zach Wilson. Along with Wilson, the Jets drafted running back Michael Carter and wideout Elijah Moore last year, and both had excellent rookie seasons. The Jets also signed tight end C.J. Uzomah, who played in the Super Bowl for Cincinnati, in free agency. If they can add offensive line help in the second, it’ll be a great draft for the Jets.
If you’re looking for a complete wide receiver, Drake London is not worthy to be the top wideout off the board. But he has a coveted NFL skill: the ability to leap into the air and high-point the football. He’s 6-foot-5 and functions almost like a tight end, and he should develop into a difficult NFL matchup. However, the Atlanta Falcons are going to have to endure a lot of questions about why they didn’t take Garrett Wilson, who’s a more versatile receiving talent. London will now be compared to Wilson quite a bit. London is going to have to use his elite skill and haul in a lot of difficult, contested catches in order to win that debate.
Playing in New York is a dream scenario for Kayvon Thibodeaux, who’s already imagining life as a transcendent star. But does he want to do all the stuff that isn’t glamorous? He has the kind of electric athletic ability to become the defining pass rusher of his generation. However, at Oregon, he was scrutinized for his inconsistent effort, and there were doubts about how much he loved the game. Draftniks didn’t know exactly where to place him, but No. 5 overall sounds about right. He has too much talent to pass up. A team’s culture should help him with any concerns about playing hard. It’s up to the new coach, Brian Daboll, to create that culture.
You know who these first four picks set up perfectly for? The Giants. They can have their choice of their left tackles, and with the Carolina Panthers likely to take an offensive linemen, they could nab Kayvon Thibodeaux — regarded by many as they most talented player in the entire class — with the seventh overall pick. Thibodeaux may also be the kind of player other teams may want to trade up for. First-year general manager Joe Schoen is sitting pretty.
My favorite position group in this draft is this crop of first round-caliber cornerbacks. There should be five taken tonight, and while many were thinking Sauce Gardner would be the first corner off the board, there’s no denying Derek Stingley Jr.'s ability. When he’s healthy and locked in, he’s one of the most elite talents at the position to enter the league in the past decade, maybe longer. Though some of the questions about him are valid, I can understand why the Texans made a high-ceiling pick. He could be a superstar.
The Texans provided a mild surprise by taking LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. with the third overall pick. Stingley was one of the best players in the country as a freshman on LSU’s dominant national title team three years ago, but injuries and mental health struggles limited him the past two seasons to a handful of games. It’s possible the Texans learned a lesson from last year’s draft. Ja’Marr Chase and Micah Parsons were the two best rookies in the NFL last year, and they didn’t play football at all in 2020 after opting out. When a player shows talent early in his college career, it’s safe to bet on that over what happens later.
The Lions broke draft speed records to take, essentially, a hometown pick: Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson. Some high draft picks change a franchise’s fortunes on talent alone. While the Lions took Hutchinson for his high motor, passion and polish as a defensive lineman, he’s even more valuable — and worthy of this pick in their situation — because he’s a tone-setter for the organization’s culture. The Lions need his character and professional approach as they attempt to rebuild for the 734th time. Hutchinson may not end up having Myles Garrett productivity in the NFL, but he’s going to be plenty good, and the way he goes about his business can elevate any defense.
In one sense, the Jaguars deserve credit for taking Georgia’s Travon Walker. They had enough conviction in their evaluation to go against the grain and take a player with immense potential who for months was regarded as an elite prospect but not really on the first overall pick radar. They chose Walker’s immense potential and rare physical gifts over Aidan Hutchinson’s production at Michigan. But here’s where the Jaguars opened themselves to justifiable criticism: The point of having the No. 1 pick is not having to choose between ceiling and safety. It’s not like Hutchinson is some overachieving try-hard. He leapt higher and ran the three-cone drill faster than Walker at the combine. Walker is surely the better athlete. The Jaguars took a gamble — perhaps unnecessarily — that he’ll be the better player.
This year’s draft is defined in large part by its unpredictability. The nature of the class — low on high-end talent, but high in depth — has something to do with it. The perceived weakness of the quarterback class does, too. Without quarterbacks dominating the top of the draft, it leaves room for more varied opinion. Another reason is the recent high turnover among NFL general managers. GMs making nine of the top 10 picks have been running their teams for less than three drafts. They don’t have track records that can be studied for draft preferences, further adding to the intrigue tonight.
Exclusive: An employee of Washington’s NFL team accused Snyder of asking for sex, groping her and attempting to remove her clothes, according to legal correspondence obtained by The Post. A team investigation concluded the woman was lying in an attempt to extort Snyder.