As the 2021-22 season ends, preparations are under way to officially begin the 2022-23 campaign. While it might start with free agency, the big event to kick off the year is the annual NFL Draft.
It begins Thursday night, April 28 at 8 p.m. EST with the first round. Rounds two and three happen Friday, April 29 at 7 p.m. and wrap up Saturday with rounds four through seven starting at noon.
- JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — Kayvon Thibodeaux, sophomore, Edge, Oregon
(6-5, 250 pounds, 2021: 49 tackles, 12 for a loss, seven sacks, one pass defended, two forced fumbles)
Kayvon Thibodeaux and Aidan Hutchinson will go Nos. 1 and 2. It’s just the order that’s up for debate as the Jaguars and Lions kick the tires at the NFL Combine and the their respective pro days on the two best edge rushers coming out this season. The Jags need everything, but when you’ve got the top pick, you have to take a top player.
- DETROIT LIONS — Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Senior, Michigan
(6-6, 265, 2021: 62 tackles, 16.5 for a loss, 14 sacks, three passes defended, one fumble recovery, two forced fumbles)
The Lions would probably prefer Hutchinson here and take him even if they had the No. 1 pick. He’s a local guy, from Michigan and played at the University of Michigan. He looks like a Dan Campbell type player and should have an immediate impact on defense.
- HOUSTON TEXANS — Tyler Linderbaum, Offensive Line, Junior, Iowa
(6-2, 270 pounds, PFF Grade: 95.3)
Like the other teams atop the draft, Houston needs some of everything. Regardless of what they do at quarterback, they need to build up their offensive line and Linderbaum fits the bill.
- NEW YORK JETS — Derek Stingley, Jr, Cornerback, Junior, LSU
(6-1, 195 pounds, 2021: 8 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, one forced fumble)
The Jets opened last year’s draft taking an offensive player. Now it’s time for Robert Saleh to start to put together the kind of defense he was known for in San Francisco.
- NEW YORK GIANTS — George Karlaftis, Edge, Junior, Purdue
(6-4, 275 pounds, 2021: 39 tackles, 10 for a loss, 4.5 sacks, four passes defended, two fumbles recovered, one defensive touchdown, two forced fumbles)
The Giants have multiple first round picks and multiple holes to fill. At five, they start with the defense, adding a pass rusher to one of the worst units in the league.
- CAROLINA PANTHERS — Evan Neal, Offensive Line, Junior, Alabama
(6-7, 360 pounds, PFF Grade: 85.8)
There’s a solid chance the Panthers could reach for a quarterback here. If they do think seriously about a signal caller, they should trade down. As it is, they should sit pat and let the draft come to them. In this case, put together an offensive line for that quarterback they might select later.
- NEW YORK GIANTS (from Bears) — Ikem Ekwonu, Offensive Line, Junior, NC State
(6-4, 320 pounds, PFF Grade: 91.6)
After working on the defensive side of the trenches with their first pick, the Giants go on offense with their second.
- ATLANTA FALCONS — Garrett Wilson, Wide Receiver, Junior, Ohio State
(6-0, 192 pounds, 2021: 70 catches, 1,058 yards, 12 touchdowns, 76 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown)
While there are no draft day and pick trades factored into this draft, this pick is based on the Falcons attempting to move Calvin Ridley in the offseason. Even if they don’t (and they shouldn’t), they need another wide receiver after trading Julio Jones.
- DENVER BRONCOS — Nakobe Dean, Linebacker, Junior, Georgia
(6-0, 225 pounds, 2021: 72 tackles, 10.5 for a loss, six sacks, two interceptions, one defensive touchdown, five passes defended, two forced fumbles)
Again, not factoring in trades allows the Broncos to build back their defense. There’s every chance that this pick will be packaged together with others for Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson.
- NEW YORK JETS (from Seahawks) — Charles Cross, Offensive Line, Sophomore, Michigan State
(6-5, 310 pounds, PFF Grade: 86.7)
Thanks to trading away Jamal Adams back in 2020, the Jets too have multiple first rounders in the Top 10. They need to keep Zach Wilson upright, so after taking defense early, it’s time to protect the young quarterback.
- WASHINGTON COMMANDERS — Kenyon Green, Offensive Line, Junior, Texas A&M
(6-4, 325 pounds, PFF Grade: 79.8)
The newly minted Commanders add their first ensign in this draft. Like the Broncos, Washington could be very involved in the offseason QB trade market and might not hold this selection by Draft Day.
- MINNESOTA VIKINGS — Ahmad Gardner, Cornerback, Junior, Cincinnati
(6-2, 188 pounds, 2021: 40 tackles, five for a loss, three sacks, three interceptions, four passes defended)
New head coach Kevin O’Connell already has a solid offense to command. It’s the defense that needs help, so Gardner gets added to the defensive backfield here at 12.
- CLEVELAND BROWNS — Jameson Williams, Wide Receiver, Junior, Alabama
(6-2, 189 pounds, 2021: 79 catches, 1,572 yards, 15 touchdowns, 23 rushing yards)
Regardless of what the Browns decide to do with Baker Mayfield, they need receiver help after jettisoning Odell Beckham Jr. midseason. So Williams, who probably won’t be ready until halfway through 2022-23, is the pick.
- BALTIMORE RAVENS — Devin Lloyd, Linebacker, Junior, Utah
(6-3, 235 pounds, 2021: 111 tackles, 22 for a loss, seven sacks, four interceptions, two defensive touchdowns, six passes defended, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble)
A new defensive coordinator probably needs a fresh batch of defensive players. The Ravens have a knack at finding linebackers and Lloyd could fit right into that historic legacy.
- PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (from Dolphins) — Kyle Hamilton, Safety, Junior, Notre Dame
(6-4, 220 pounds, 2021: 34 tackles, two for a loss, three interceptions, four passes defended)
To a lot of draft experts, Hamilton is the top ranked player in this draft. His position, like running back, is undervalued so he drops to 15 to make an immediate impact on the Eagles’ defense.
- PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (from Colts) — Andrew Booth, Jr., Cornerback, Junior, Clemson
(6-0, 200 pounds, 2021: 37 tackles, three for a loss, three interceptions, five passes defended)
With back to back picks, the Eagles continue to build their defensive backfield, adding Booth to play alongside Hamilton.
- LOS ANGELES CHARGERS — Jordan Davis, Defensive Line, Senior, Georgia
(6-6, 340 pounds, 2021: 32 tackles, five for a loss, two sacks, one pass defended)
The Chargers barely missed the playoffs and don’t have a lot of holes. What they do have is some free agents walking and Davis could make losing some of their defensive line more palatable.
- NEW ORLEANS SAINTS — Treylon Burks, Wide Receiver, Junior, Arkansas
(6-3, 225 pounds, 2021: 66 catches, 1,104 yards, 11 touchdowns, 112 rushing yards, one touchdown)
The Saints should be very involved in the offseason quarterback market and could even take one here. I think they’ll sign a guy and roll on with him and Tayson Hill. Therefore, they need someone to toss the ball to, especially if they move Michael Thomas and his huge contract. New Orleans is $74 million over the cap as of this writing.
- PHILADELPHIA EAGLES — Kingsley Enagbare, Edge, Senior, South Carolina
(6-4, 340 pounds, 2021: 43 tackles, seven for a loss, 4.5 sacks, two passes defended, one fumble recovery, two forced fumbles)
With their third first rounder, the Eagles stay on defense, adding a pass rush to what will now be a formidable pass defense.
- PITTSBURGH STEELERS — Kenny Pickett, Quarterback, Senior, Pittsburgh
(6-3, 220 pounds, 2021: 67.2 completion percentage, 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns, seven interceptions)
The weakest quarterback draft since 2013 sees its first signal caller taken off the board. There’s a good chance Pittsburgh will forgo drafting their next QB, but if Pickett is there, with his local ties, there’s no reason not to pull the trigger and take the chance.
- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS — Chris Olave, Wide Receiver, Senior, Ohio State
(6-1, 188 pounds, 2021: 65 catches, 936 yards, 13 touchdowns)
The Patriots have wasted first rounders on wide receivers before, but it remains a need and one that’s difficult to fill, at least with a WR1, in free agency. Mac Jones needs the help.
- LAS VEGAS RAIDERS — Drake London, Wide Receiver, Junior, USC
(6-5, 210 pounds, 2021: 88 catches, 1,084 yards, seven touchdowns)
New head coach Josh McDaniels and new general manager Dave Ziegler have to rebuild a team that Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden nearly destroyed with horrible drafts. It begins with wide receiver, replacing their last first rounder who is no longer with the team.
- ARIZONA CARDINALS — Kaiir Elam, Cornerback, Junior, Florida
(6-2, 196 pounds, 2021: 29 tackles, 1.5 for a loss, one interception, five passes defended
Arizona came out of the gate strong, but once again faltered at the end of the season. This year, at least, they made the playoffs and their reward is to pick this late. They need to add to their defense and count more on young talent than picking guys up in free agency that used to be big names, but are now in the twilight of their careers.
- DALLAS COWBOYS — Travon Walker, Defensive Line, Junior, Georgia
(6-5, 275 pounds, 2021: 33 tackles, 7.5 for a loss, six sacks, two passes defended, one fumble recovery)
Dallas is loaded on offense, but could be losing some defensive pieces in free agency. They can boost their run defense by plugging Walker in the middle of their line.
- BUFFALO BILLS — Derion Kendrick, Cornerback, Junior, Georgia
(6-0, 192 pounds, 2021: 41 tackles, two for a loss, four interceptions, three passes defended)
Buffalo came up short against Kansas City again, so the build to beat the Chiefs continues — This time by adding one of the draft’s best corners.
- TENNESSEE TITANS —Daxton Hill, Cornerback, Junior, Michigan
(6-0, 192 pounds, 2021: 69 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, 0.5 sacks, two interceptions, eight passes defended, one fumble recovery)
The Titans could be a team in some real flux, but one thing they need to boost up is their defensive backfield, even if they’re able to somehow get new Tennessean Aaron Rodgers into the fold.
- TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — Jahan Dotson, Wide Receiver, Senior, Penn State
(5-11, 183 pounds, 2021: 91 catches, 1,182 yards, 12 touchdowns)
The Buccaneers might have taken their QB of the future in Kyle Trask last year. Now they need a wideout for him to throw to after losing Antonio Brown this past season and possibly Chris Godwin to free agency.
- GREEN BAY PACKERS — Matt Corral, Quarterback, Junior, Ole Miss
(6-2, 205 pounds, 2021: 67.7 completion percentage, 3,343 yards, 20 touchdowns, five interceptions)
Even if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t move on, he’s got just one more year on his current contract. If Jordan Love isn’t the guy, it’s back to the drawing board and Corral is the most Rodgers-like out of all these inbound QBs.
- MIAMI DOLPHINS (from 49ers) — Jaxson Kirkland, Offensive Line, Junior, Washington
(6-7, 310 pounds)
The Dolphins currently don’t have a coach, but they do have an offensive line that needs help to keep Tua Tagovailoa’s career on track.
- KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — Jaquan Brisker, Safety, Senior, Penn State
(6-1, 200 pounds, 2021: 63 tackles, six for a loss, two interceptions, five passes defended, one fumble recovery)
With Tyrann Mathieu set to exit via free agency, the Chiefs have a massive hole in the defensive backfield that will need to be filled.
31/32. CINCINNATI BENGALS — Bernhard Raimann, Offensive Line, Junior, Central Michigan
(6-7, 305 pounds, PFF Grade: 94.6)
Win or lose the Super Bowl, the Bengals must address the problems on their offensive line. Raimann should be a Day One starter for the AFC and potential World Champs.
31/32. DETROIT LIONS (from Rams) — Roger McCreary, Cornerback, Senior, Auburn
(6-0, 190 pounds, 2021: 49 tackles, two for a loss, one sack, two interceptions, one defensive touchdown, 14 passes defended, one fumble recovery)
Detroit makes the first of its two Matthew Stafford Los Angeles Rams first rounders by continuing to add to their defense, this time with a much needed upgrade at corner.