The Circuit’s 2022 NFL Draft Recap
Now that the dust has settled on the 2022 NFL Draft, it’s time to look back and discuss the best, worst & most perplexing (Patriots) picks. Plus, grade how well I mocked the first three rounds! Getty Images/ Circuit Artwork The 2022 NFL Draft saw some teams get a lot better, some teams make some baffling decisions, and perhaps the fate of the 2032 NFL season determined. Before we dive into the analysis and determine who had the best (and worst) drafts, let’s start with how my mock draft turned out! Overall, my hit rate was not very high (as expected) due to trades and other (Patriots) shenanigans. But here are some of my better picks: Kenny Pickett to the Pittsburgh Steelers Jordan Davis to the Philadelphia Eagles Garrett Wilson to the New York Jets Aidan Hutchinson to the Detroit Lions George Karlaftis to the Kansas City Chiefs Those are just picks that I got right, but trust me, there were manyyyyy more picks that I completely whiffed on. But now let’s dive into the analysis part of the draft, and start with the three BEST picks of the 1st round: DE Aidan Hutchinson to the Detroit Lions at #2 This is an easy choice, given that Hutchinson should have been the #1 pick and the Lions grabbed him at #2. Not to mention that he’s a local college player at Michigan, this pick could be the one that turns this franchise around… finally. S Kyle Hamilton to the Baltimore Raves at #14 The Ravens, probably more than any other NFL team, have a defensive connotation. From Ray Lewis to Ed Reed to Terrell Suggs, Baltimore always finds those great defensive players; and that didn’t stop in 2022. Kyle Hamilton very well could have the best career of anyone in this draft, and now that he’s a Raven that’s an even better bet. CB Kaiir Elam to the Buffalo Bills at #23 The Bills have maybe the best team in the sport, but their one weakness was the secondary; I mean, did you see that game against the Chiefs? They needed to get someone who can cover the secondary and slow down those Kansas City receivers, and they got a great one in Elam. While he’s not on the same level as Hamilton or Stingley, he’ll be a great addition to the Bills. Now let’s look at the WORST three picks of the 1st Round… G Cole Strange to the New England Patriots at #29 There was nowhere else to start… WHAT?? If you wanted to get some protection for Mac Jones, I get that. But there were solid options left on the board, and Strange was not thought of as a 1st rounder… or a second rounder… or maybe even a third rounder! This seemed like just a wild over-reach, adding to the long lineage of perplexing Patriots draft picks. DE Travon Walker to the Jacksonville Jaguars at #1 Walker might turn out to be a fine pro, but taking him at #1 feels like a mistake. There were some great offensive linemen, great pass rushers, and some awesome weapons for Lawrence to throw to; Walker was none of those. With Neal, Hutchinson and Wilson all on the board, Walker feels like a mistake waiting to happen. S Daxton Hill to the Cincinnati Bengals at #31 This has nothing to do with Hill, I want to make that clear. I just can’t believe the Bengals didn’t go O-Line. Yes, they added some names in free agency, but why not take one in the draft? They were miserable last season, and more bites at that apple couldn’t hurt. I would have liked to see them pair Burrow with a young, awesome left tackle but alas, they did not. Hill will be fine , but they could have had more. While the first round is the sexiest of the draft, champions are built in rounds 2-7. Here are the three best picks of the rest of the NFL Draft! WR George Pickens to the Pittsburgh Steelers at #52 (Round 2) This is less about how I feel about Pickens and more what I think about the organization that took him; Pittsburgh has proven over and over again that they can develop receivers, so I am not betting against Pickens falling into that lineage. LB Nakobe Dean to the Philadelphia Eagles at #83 (Round 3) Yes, I’m an Eagles fan so yes, this is biased. But come on! This is a great pick, especially in the third round. Dean was viewed as a potential first rounder, and to pair him with UGA teammate Jordan Davis is a huge win for Philly. P Matt Araiza to the Buffalo Bills at #180 (Round 6) Sure he’s a punter. But this dude is a PUNTER. The “Punt God” is going to bring excitement and electricity to the most boring part of the game for the Bills, but he may also pull off some great plays to help them win games, which is the ultimate goal. Finally, let’s take a look at the five teams that improved the most after the 2022 draft: Philadelphia Eagles Key Picks: #13- DT Jordan Davis (Georgia) #83- LB Nakobe Dean (Georgia) Trade- WR AJ Brown I love the picks that the Eagles made, but I love even more the trade they made to get Brown; The Eagles went into this draft with 3 first-round picks, and walked away with Jordan Davis and AJ Brown. Now if we could just get a real quarterback, we will be true Super Bowl contenders. Baltimore Ravens Key Picks: #14- S Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame) #25- C Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa) #45- DE David Ojabo (Michigan) This was such a Ravens draft; they got great players who don’t lead the ESPN headlines. Hamilton is going to be an All-Pro player, Linderbaum will be a 10 year starter and Ojabo will undoubtedly make a handful of defensive plays that will clinch playoff games in Baltimore. Detroit Lions Key Picks: #2- DE Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan) #12- WR Jameson Williams (Alabama) #46- DE Joshua Paschal (Kentucky) I LOVE what the Lions did this year. Getting Hutchinson at 2 is the best pick in the draft, and grabbing Williams at 12 gives them a legit receiver for the first time since Calvin Johnson prowled in Detroit. The Lions may not be very good in 2022, but in 2024? 2027? The Lions could be contenders sooner than later. Kansas City Chiefs Key Picks: #21- CB Trent McDuffie (Washington) #30- DE George Karlaftis (Purdue) #54- WR Skyy More (Western Michigan) The Chiefs improved their defense by quite a bit, giving Mahomes a young, athletic defense for the first time in his young, brilliant career. Plus Moore could be a great weapon for Mahomes, especially now that Hill took his talents to South Beach. Look for Kansas City to once again be competing for the Super Bowl. New York Giants Key Picks: #5- DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon) #7- OT Evan Neal (Alabama) #43- WR Wan’Dale Robinson (Kentucky) Thibodeaux has the potential to be the best player in this class if he puts in the work and wants to be, and Neal was my projected #1 pick, so getting them at #5 & #7 respectively is a pretty damn good haul. I like Dabboll as the new head coach, and I think (once again) the Giants could make a splash in 2022. There you have it! The complete recap of the 2022 NFL Draft. Do you agree with my analysis? Think I’m coked out of my mind to have these takes? Let me know @thecircuitverse on Twitter and make sure to check out all of our other great content on sports & pop culture!