2022 AFC Draft Analysis

By Steve Tsilimos | Posted 25 days ago

The 2022 NFL Draft did not have a sure-fire star QB or a can’t-miss prospect like most years, but it had more excitement than in years past. The middle of the first round had teams trading star players and moving around the board at a pace that was hard to keep up. 

 

The draft always has a lot of uncertainty surrounding it which is what makes it so much fun. The teams are gambling on players – and just like a bet, when they get it right it’s “we knew we had our guy” but when they miss it sounds more like, “how did this happen?” 

 

I am not a teacher so I will not be handing out draft grades like most other analysts. Instead, I will place the AFC teams into three categories:

• The Good – the teams that did the best at finding value and filling roster needs. 
• The Average – the teams that did some things right but also seemed to miss on a few picks. 
• The Ugly – the teams that wasted value and did not address the team’s biggest needs.

 

Let’s start with the good and work our way to the ugly. One thing I value higher than most other analysts is using picks on WRs instead of trading picks and paying the position huge money. It has been proven over the past five years that receivers on rookie contracts can provide huge numbers or at least be solid contributors. There is a receiver bubble happening and the teams that are letting their star receivers go are ahead of the bubble and will be rewarded in this piece. 

The Good

New York Jets – Top needs: DB, OL, WR

Draft picks

• Cincinnati CB Sauce Gardner (No. 4 overall)
• Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson (No. 10 overall)
• Florida State Edge Jermaine Johnson II (No. 26 overall)
• Iowa State RB Breece Hall (No. 36 overall)
• Ohio State TE Jeremy Ruckert (No. 101 overall)
• Louisiana OT Max Mitchell (No. 112 overall)
• Texas A&M DE Micheal Clemons (No. 117 overall)

 

New York needed to draft the best available player because the Jets need talent everywhere. They did a great job at using their first four picks on players who should be able to start this season. CB Sauce Gardner and WR Garrett Wilson were the top-ranked guys at their position and have the skills to be All-Pros sooner rather than later. The Jets moved back into the first round to take DE Jermaine Johnson II who had fallen further than most people thought. Then in the second round, the Jets again took a top-ranked guy at a position when they took the first RB in the draft Breece Hall. If Zach Wilson takes a big step in development then the Jets could be looking at this class as the one who turned them around. 

Baltimore Ravens – Top needs: CB, DE, C, WR

Draft picks

• Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton (No. 14 overall)
• Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum (No. 25 overall)
• Michigan Edge David Ojabo (No. 45 overall)
• UConn DT Travis Jones (No. 76 overall)
• Minnesota OT Daniel Faalele (No. 110 overall)
• Alabama CB Jalyn Armour-Davis (No. 119 overall)
• Iowa State TE Charlie Kolar (No. 128 overall)
• Penn State P Jordan Stout (No. 130 overall)
• Coastal Carolina TE Isaiah Likely (No. 139 overall)
• Houston CB Damarion Williams (No. 141 overall)
• Missouri RB Tyler Badie (No. 196 overall)

 

The Ravens are a good example of a team that shipped away their best receiver to get more draft capital. Baltimore sent Marquise Brown and a third-round pick to the Cardinals for the No. 23 pick. They eventually moved back two more spots and gained a fourth-round pick,which gave them six total picks in the round (most in a single draft since 1970). The Ravens did a great job at finding value on all three days. They snagged the top safety Kyle Hamilton and top center Tyler Linderbaum in the draft and found some more starters on the offensive and defensive lines with their first five picks. The only knock on the Ravens is that they did not draft any receivers which is a huge need for them right now. 

Buffalo Bills – Top needs: CB, LB, RB

Draft picks

• Florida CB Kaiir Elam (No. 23 overall)
• Georgia RB James Cook (No. 63 overall)
• Baylor LB Terrel Bernard (No. 89 overall)
• Boise State WR Khalil Shakir (No. 148 overall)
• San Diego State P Matt Araiza (No. 180 overall)
• Villanova CB Christian Benford (No. 185 overall)
• Virginia Tech OT Luke Tenuta (No. 209 overall)
• Clemson LB Baylon Spector (No. 231 overall)

 

The Bills are who traded with the Ravens to move up two spots to take CB Kaiir Elam in the first round. Elam should be a starter from day one. The Bills then filled another roster need in the second round by taking the third RB in the draft James Cook – who should provide some big plays in this offense. And again, the Bills addressed their needs with their third-round selection. LB Terrel Bernard may have been a bit of a reach at that spot but the Bills did well in getting their guys.

Cincinnati Bengals – Top needs: OL, DT, CB

Draft picks

• Michigan DB Daxton Hill (No. 31 overall)
• Nebraska CB Cam Taylor-Britt (No. 60 overall)
• Florida DT Zachary Carter (No. 95 overall)
• North Dakota State OL Cordell Volson (No. 136 overall)
• Toledo S Tycen Anderson (No. 166 overall)
• Coastal Carolina Edge Jeffrey Gunter (No. 252 overall)

 

The Super Bowl runner-up did not mess around and stuck with the plan to fill the holes on the roster. The Bengals had needs on both lines and they drafted two defensive and one offensive lineman. Their other picks were filling out their secondary which was a huge weakness last season. DB Daxton Hill can play pretty much any position in the secondary, which gives the Bengals flexibility when they are trying to find the best guys to have on the field.

Kansas City Chiefs – Top needs: CB, WR, DE

Draft picks

• Washington CB Trent McDuffie (No. 21 overall)
• Purdue Edge George Karlaftis (No. 30 overall)
• Western Michigan WR Skyy Moore (No. 54 overall)
• Cincinnati S Bryan Cook (No. 62 overall)
• Wisconsin LB Leo Chenal (No. 103 overall)
• Fayetteville State CB Joshua Williams (No. 135 overall)
• Kentucky OT Darian Kinnard (No. 145 overall)
• Washington State CB Jaylen Watson (No. 243 overall)
• Rutgers RB Isiah Pacheco (No. 251 overall)
• Marshall CB Nazeeh Johnson (No. 259 overall)

 

The Chiefs have been under scrutiny after trading Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins, but this draft could help cool the critics. Kansas City filled their needs with their first three picks and found a guy very similar to Hill when they drafted one of the fastest WR in the draft Skyy Moore. The Chiefs also did great in the later rounds by getting players who could develop into starters. 

Pittsburgh Steelers – Top needs: QB, OL, WR

Draft picks

• Pitt QB Kenny Pickett (No. 20 overall)
• Georgia WR George Pickens (No. 52 overall)
• Texas A&M DL DeMarvin Leal (No. 84 overall)
• Memphis WR Calvin Austin III (No. 138 overall)
• Michigan State TE Connor Heyward (No. 208 overall)
• Mississippi LB Mark Robinson (No. 225 overall)
• South Dakota State QB Chris Oladokun (No. 241 overall)

 

The Steelers took the first QB off the board and one of the last when they took Kenny Pickett in the first and Chris Oladokun in the seventh. Pickett had 50 starts in college and is a type of QB that could start day one and be the perfect game manager for the Steelers. Oladokun is a raw talent but he could eventually become a starter. Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin got what he wanted – QBs to compete with Mitch Trubisky for the job. The Steelers understand the WR bubble and let Juju Smith-Schuster and James Washinton go in free agency, and did a nice job filling the vacancy at WR by picking George Pickensand Calvin Austin III.

Houston Texans – Top needs: CB, RB, DE

Draft picks

• LSU DB Derek Stingley Jr. (No. 3 overall)
• Texas A&M OL Kenyon Green (No. 15 overall)
• Baylor S Jalen Pitre (No. 37 overall)
• Alabama WR John Metchie III (No. 44 overall)
• Alabama LB Christian Harris (No. 75 overall)
• Florida RB Dameon Pierce (No. 107 overall)
• Stanford DT Thomas Booker (No. 150 overall)
• Oregon State TE Teagan Quitoriano (No. 170 overall)
• LSU OT Austin Deculus (No. 205 overall)

 

The Texans had an extra first-round pick in this draft and in the next two drafts by trading a QB that didn’t even want to be there. If they can hit on at least one of those added picks they made out like bandits. The Texans could have gone in many different directions because they were after the best player available rather than trying to fill certain holes. They did well in finding as much value as possible while adding players who should be able to step in and make a difference. 

The Average 

Tennessee Titans – Top needs: OL, WR, CB

Draft picks

• Arkansas WR Treylon Burks (No. 18 overall)
• Auburn CB Roger McCreary (No. 35 overall)
• Ohio State OT Nicholas Petit-Frere (No. 69 overall)
• Liberty QB Malik Willis (No. 86 overall)
• Michigan RB Hassan Haskins (No. 131 overall)
• Maryland TE Chigoziem Okonkwo (No. 143 overall)
• UCLA WR Kyle Philips (No. 163 overall)
• Tennessee CB Theo Jackson (No. 204 overall)
• Mississippi LB Chance Campbell (No. 219 overall)

 

The Titans traded All-Pro WR A.J. Brown to the Eagles on the first day of the draft. They selected his replacement Treylon Burks with the No. 18 pick that they acquired in the trade. I think the Titans did the right thing. Burks will not be Brown in 2022 but it’s totally possible that Burks ends up being better than Brown and they will not have to pay him for a few years. The Titans filled their roster needs with their next two picks by getting a CB and OT. The Titans then took QB Malik Willis in the third round, which could be a steal if he develops into a franchise QB to take over the position after Ryan Tannehill

Indianapolis Colts – Top needs: WR, OL, DB

Draft picks

• Cincinnati WR Alec Pierce (No. 53 overall)
• Virginia TE Jelani Woods (No. 73 overall)
• Central Michigan OT Bernhard Raimann (No. 77 overall)
• Maryland S Nick Cross (No. 96 overall)
• Missouri State DT Eric Johnson (No. 159 overall)
• Youngstown State TE Andrew Ogletree (No. 192 overall)
• Cincinnati DT Curtis Brooks (No. 216 overall)
• Yale DB Rodney Thomas (No. 239 overall)

 

The Colts did not get to participate on day one because of the ill-fated Carson Wentz trade. That did not stop Indianapolis from having a solid draft. WR Alec Pierce and TE Jelani Woods both have good size and could become great targets for QB Matt Ryan. OT Bernhard Raimann was a steal at No. 77 and could start this year. S Nick Cross can cover the slot and will most likely find the field this year on defense. Would have been nice to see the Colts get a QB, but they seem to like guys at the end of their careers. 

Cleveland Browns – Top needs: WR, DT, DE

Draft picks

• Mississippi State CB Martin Emerson (No. 68 overall)
• UAB DE Alex Wright (No. 78 overall)
• Purdue WR David Bell (No. 99 overall)
• Oklahoma DT Perrion Winfrey (No. 108 overall)
• LSU K Cade York (No. 124 overall)
• Cincinnati RB Jerome Ford (No. 156 overall)
• Oklahoma WR Mike Woods (No. 202 overall)
• Oklahoma Edge Isaiah Thomas (No. 223 overall)
• Texas Tech C Dawson Deaton (No. 246 overall)

 

The Browns had a lot of picks but none in the first two rounds – due to the Deshaun Watson trade. The Browns filled their needs with their late-round picks adding two WRs and two DEs. WR David Bell fell to the Browns at No. 99 because he ran a 4.65-second 40, but he should be a solid option for Watson. K Cade York has a big leg and could become a key piece to the Browns' special teams.

Denver Broncos – Top needs: TE, OT, CB

Draft picks

• Oklahoma Edge Nik Bonitto (No. 64 overall)
• UCLA TE Greg Dulcich (No. 80 overall)
• Pitt CB Damarri Mathis (No. 115 overall)
• Iowa State DT Eyioma Uwazurike (No. 116 overall)
• Oklahoma S Delarrin Turner-Yell (No. 152 overall)
• Samford WR Montrell Washington (No. 162 overall)
• Washington C Luke Wattenberg (No. 171 overall)
• Wisconsin DT Matt Henningsen (No. 206 overall)
• Wisconsin CB Faion Hicks (No. 232 overall)

 

The Broncos sent their first- and second-round picks to Seattle for Russell Wilson, which I believe is well worth it, especially in a draft with no standout QBs. Also in the trade, they sent away TE Noah Fant, which left a huge void in the position, that they filled when they drafted TE Greg Dulcich. DE Nick Bonitto and CB Damarri Mathis. Both have a chance to start next season. All in all the Broncos left the draft with a proven QB and filled most of their roster needs. Denver will still need to find a veteran OT this offseason. 

Los Angeles Chargers – Top needs: OT, LB, G

Draft picks

• Boston College OL Zion Johnson (No. 17 overall)
• Baylor S JT Woods (No. 79 overall)
• Texas A&M RB Isaiah Spiller (No. 123 overall)
• UCLA DT Otito Ogbonnia (No. 160 overall)
• Georgia G Jamaree Salyer (No. 195 overall)
• Wake Forest CB Ja'Sir Taylor (No. 214 overall)
• Mississippi CB Deane Leonard (No. 236 overall)
• Purdue FB Zander Horvath (No. 260 overall)

 

The Chargers traded their second-round pick for Khalil Mack – a former Defensive Player of the Year – which is well worth the value. They then solidified the interior of their offensive line when they selected OL Zion Johnson in the first round. It is hard to love this pick when they could have used it to get an OT. RB Isaiah Spiller has a nice combo of size and speed and could make some impact plays for this offense. The Bolts did not draft an LB or an OT which means they need to find some veteran help soon.

Las Vegas Raiders – Top needs: OT, DT, DB

Draft picks

• Memphis OG Dylan Parham (No. 90 overall)
• Georgia RB Zamir White (No. 122 overall)
• LSU DT Neil Farrell Jr. (No. 126 overall)
• Tennessee DT Matthew Butler (No. 175 overall)
• Ohio State OT Thayer Munford Jr. (No. 238 overall)
• UCLA RB Brittain Brown (No. 250 overall)

 

The Raiders did not get that much out of this draft because they traded their first- and second-round picks to acquire WR Davante Adams from the Packers. The front office did do well with what they had though. G/C Dylan Parham could be a starter that they found in the third round. They got two different DTs that could contribute this year when they drafted Neil Fareell Jr. and Matthew Butler. The two RB choices could be some evidence that Josh Jacobs may be in a new uniform soon.

The Ugly

Jacksonville Jaguars – Top needs: OL, DL, DB

Draft picks

• Georgia Edge Travon Walker (No. 1 overall)
• Utah LB Devin Lloyd (No. 27 overall)
• Kentucky C Luke Fortner (No. 65 overall)
• Wyoming LB Chad Muma (No. 70 overall)
• Ole Miss RB Snoop Conner (No. 154 overall)
• Ouachita Baptist CB Gregory Junior (No. 197 overall)
• Arkansas CB Montaric Brown (No. 222 overall)

 

The Jaguars continually find themselves at the top of drafts because they continually fail to succeed at drafting. For a team that needs so much help to take DE Travon Walker, who is not a sure-fire thing, instead of moving back and acquiring more picks seemed silly. The Jags moved back into the first round to take LB Devin Lloyd which was a nice pick. Then they took another ILB 40 picks later which seemed odd. 

Miami Dolphins – Top needs: OL, CB, LB

Draft picks

• Georgia LB Channing Tindall (No. 102 overall)
• Texas Tech WR Erik Ezukanma (No. 125 overall)
• California Edge Cameron Goode (No. 224 overall)
• Kansas State QB Skylar Thompson (No. 247 overall)

 

The Dolphins traded their first-, second-, and fourth-round picks in this year's draft plus two late-round picks in 2023 to acquire WR Tyreek Hill. Hill is arguably worth it because of his game-breaking ability, but I am sticking with my sentiment that sending away picks and paying big money for a WR is not smart. The Dolphins did well when they landed LB Channing Tindall late in the third round. Tindall did not start for Georgia but he played a lot of meaningful minutes and is very underrated. 

New England Patriots – Top needs: CB, WR, LB

Draft picks

• UT-Chattanooga OG Cole Strange (No. 29 overall)
• Baylor WR Tyquan Thornton(No. 50 overall)
• Houston CB Marcus Jones (No. 85 overall)
• Arizona State CB Jack Jones (No. 121 overall)
• South Dakota State RB Pierre Strong (No. 127 overall)
• Western Kentucky QB Bailey Zappe (No. 137 overall)
• South Carolina RB Kevin Harris (No. 183 overall)
• Northwest Missouri State DT Sam Roberts (No. 200 overall)
• LSU C Chasen Hines (No. 210 overall)
• Michigan OT Andrew Stueber (No. 245 overall)

 

It is hard to put New England last on my list because that means I am questioning the front office and coach who dominated the last 20 years. The Patriots have always seemed to value players differently and are usually right. But at first glance, they seemed to reach for their first two picks G Cole Strange and WR Tyquan Thornton. The Patriots then used two picks to add two corners who could compete to start which was the best part of their draft. Adding two RBs to their stable of young running backs seemed a bit odd as well. 

 

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