The Jacksonville Jaguars kicked off the 2022 N.F.L. draft with a dangerous, counterintuitive choice that would mire the franchise on the backside of the standings for years if it backfires.
In different phrases, it was a typical begin to a usually unpredictable first spherical.
The Jaguars chosen Georgia edge rusher Travon Walker with the No. 1 total decide within the draft. Walker recorded a mere six sacks within the 2021 season for the Faculty Soccer Playoff champions, however his 35.5-inch arms and excellent ends in athletic assessments just like the three-cone drill impressed scouts throughout the pre-draft course of, prompting the Jaguars to decide on him over higher-rated, more-accomplished prospects.
Walker might properly have a deep reservoir of long-range potential, although the Jaguars will not be one of the best franchise to faucet it. Till the staff proves in any other case, if opponents defend their quarterbacks by stashing him behind cones or atop a excessive bookshelf, the Jaguars are set.
Walker’s choice set the tone for what turned a giant evening for edge rushers, offensive linemen, cornerbacks and vast receivers however a really quiet one for quarterbacks.
Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, who’s incrementally much less athletic than Walker however had 14 sacks in 2021, fell to the Detroit Lions on the second decide. The Lions later traded as much as twelfth total to pick Alabama receiver Jameson Williams. Extremely-macho Lions Coach Dan Campbell couldn’t have been happier with the outcomes of the primary spherical if he dropped a nine-point buck utilizing nothing however a decided scowl.
Louisiana State cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and Texas A&M guard Kenyon Inexperienced have been chosen third and fifteenth total by the Houston Texans, as shut as a prospect can come to being trapped on the underside rung of a multilevel advertising and marketing scheme.
The Jets and Giants, every with two alternatives among the many high 10, shockingly obtained by means of the night with out making any obtrusive, probably catastrophic errors. The Jets chosen Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner fourth and Ohio State vast receiver Garrett Wilson tenth, then traded up for Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II at twenty sixth total. The Giants chosen Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux fifth and Alabama guard Evan Neal eighth.
Gardner is 6-foot-3, runs the 40-yard sprint in 4.41 seconds and has a cool nickname, Sauce, the three stipulations of a top-tier N.F.L. cornerback. Wilson combines pure velocity with route working that’s two elements Cooper Kupp and one half Bob Fosse. If Wilson wants three jukes to get open, he makes three jukes, however some evaluators fear as a result of when Wilson wants one juke to get open, he makes three jukes. Johnson recorded 11.5 sacks in 2021 after transferring from a Georgia program that produced 5 first-round alternatives on Thursday.
Thibodeaux was a consensus All-America choice in 2021 and one of many high defenders within the nation for 3 years. The N.F.L.’s gossipmongers took an unexplained dislike to him this low season, nonetheless, inflicting him to tumble beneath Walker and Hutchinson on the draft board. Justin Herbert, now a Professional Bowl quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers, confronted comparable imprecise whispers when leaving Oregon in 2020. It’s price noting that N.F.L. scouting departments are nonetheless filled with males who suppose that anybody who chooses to play within the Pacific Northwest over Alabama or Texas have to be a grimy hippie.
Neal is a typical top-tier offensive line prospect who seems and strikes like a online game boss. He ought to have the ability to defend Daniel Jones from something however himself.
Rounding out the highest 10:
The Carolina Panthers chosen North Carolina State sort out Ikem Ekwonu at No. 6: a stunning choice, as a result of the Panthers have been anticipated to pick a quarterback to switch Cam Newton, who proved to be a poor substitute for Sam Darnold, who was a poor substitute for Teddy Bridgewater, who was a poor substitute for Cam Newton.
The Atlanta Falcons, who wanted a wage cap write-off so badly that they donated longtime quarterback Matt Ryan to 1-877-QBS-4-COLTS, chosen Southern California receiver Drake London with the eighth decide.
The Seattle Seahawks, who turned a quarterback-needy staff after buying and selling Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, chosen Mississippi State sort out Charles Cross ninth total to dam for Drew Lock, Geno Smith or whomever they’ll rustle up in later rounds.
A flurry of trades involving receivers marked the center of the primary spherical, with the Arizona Cardinals buying Marquise Brown from the Baltimore Ravens for the twenty fifth total decide, and the Philadelphia Eagles buying and selling the 18th total decide to the Tennessee Titans for receiver A.J. Brown. San Francisco receiver Deebo Samuel was not dealt regardless of brazenly in search of a commerce.
The New Orleans Saints traded a bunch of picks over the following three years in a collection of offers to maneuver up the board to pick Ohio State receiver Chris Olave at No. 11, then added Northern Iowa sort out Trevor Penning with the nineteenth decide. The Saints additionally spent their method out of wage cap purgatory this low season by turning a lot of their veterans’ contracts into upside-down mortgages. By 2024, Olave and Penning will be the solely gamers the staff can afford to maintain.
One staff that neither traded for nor drafted a receiver was the Inexperienced Bay Packers, which chosen Georgia linebacker Quay Walker and Georgia defensive finish Devonte Wyatt with the twenty second and twenty eighth picks, the primary of which they acquired by buying and selling Davante Adams to Las Vegas in March. That rumbling you hear on the horizon is Aaron Rodgers’s mood.
Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett lastly turned the one quarterback chosen when the Pittsburgh Steelers made him the twentieth total decide. He would be the inheritor obvious to the retiree Ben Roethlisberger if he can wrest a beginning job away from the journeyman Mitchell Trubisky. That’s each a low bar and a giant “if.” Liberty’s Malik Willis was not drafted on Thursday evening, regardless of hypothesis that he may be a top-10 decide.
Most analysts thought-about this 12 months’s quarterback crop to be sparse, which is why many N.F.L. groups crammed the place in artistic methods earlier this low season: buying and selling for Wilson, Deshaun Watson or Carson Wentz (we mentioned artistic, not essentially advisable); mortgaging their finances and dignity for Rodgers; procrastinating on submitting Tom Brady’s retirement paperwork; discovering peace and acceptance with Jones for one more 12 months.
Noticeably absent from Thursday evening’s proceedings: the Rams themselves, who don’t plan to select within the first spherical once more till the draft is held at a colony on Mars.