2022 NFL Draft Round 1 winners and losers: Giants, Jets add major talent, tough day for Malik Willis and QBs


The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft on Thursday night was more dramatic than what most were probably anticipating. After the first 10 picks, things really started to get crazy. We had three consecutive trades at No. 11, 12 and 13, we saw Marquise Brown dealt from the Baltimore Ravens to the Arizona Cardinals and then, A.J. Brown was traded from the Tennessee Titans to the Philadelphia Eagles

Wide receivers have been the biggest headline in the NFL this offseason, and that trend continued into the draft. A total of six were selected, and two were traded. The night was full of surprises, and also full of winners and losers. Below, we will break down four of each.

Winner: The N.Y. teams

The New York Giants and New York Jets are not seen as two of the best teams in the NFL, and both have made questionable draft decisions in the past. But, that was not the case on Thursday night. In his first draft as the Giants’ general manager, Joe Schoen landed Oregon pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux at No. 5 overall, and then Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal with the No. 7 overall pick. 

Thibodeaux was regarded as the No. 1 overall pick in mock drafts during the college football season. While that narrative changed as we inched closer to the draft, he was still seen as one of the best players in the class. Getting him at No. 5 overall is good value, all things considered, and the Giants again scored on value at No. 7, taking who could be the safest player in the draft in Neal. He’s a Day 1 starter with great versatility. CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco gave both Giants’ picks an “A” grade (check out our tracker with grades for every pick here).

As for the Jets, they were probably the No. 1 winner of the first round. They scored cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner at No. 4 overall, and then Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson at No. 10. Both were seen by many as the top players at their respective positions, and both will be immediate-impact guys. 

The Jets weren’t done there, however, as they traded back into the first round to select Florida State pass-rusher Jermaine Johnson. This was a player mock draft experts had in the top 10, and some in the top five. As he continued his mysterious fall down draft boards, the Jets couldn’t help but squeeze in at the end to pick him up. What a haul for these two New York teams. 

Jackson lost his No. 1 wide receiver Thursday night in Hollywood Brown, who was traded to the Cardinals. That depth chart looks mighty thin at receiver, as Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay are probably now the top two guys. Baltimore drafted Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton and Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum in the first round, but Jackson was clearly still rattled. 

Remember, he’s due for an extension. Will he be playing football elsewhere in the near future?

Winner: Arizona Cardinals

I’ve already seen several of my colleagues call the Cardinals “losers” for giving up a first-round pick for Brown, but I disagree. I think he’s a playmaker who will be better in Arizona’s system. Plus, he has a rapport with Kyler Murray

Brown leaves one quarterback who is due for an extension, and teams up with another. The Cardinals bought themselves some time by picking up Murray’s fifth-year option this week, and then reunited him with his top wideout from the ole Oklahoma days who helped him win the Heisman.

Back in 2018, Brown caught 75 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Sooners, parlaying that big season into being a first-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. Now, the two players are reunited in a fun offense created by Kliff Kingsbury. They should make each other better, and it could be a move that helps Murray want to stay in Arizona. 

Loser: Tennessee Titans

Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks was a draft crush for many a Titans fan this year, and the front office went out and got him. However, that win was overshadowed by the fact that Tennessee dealt star wide receiver and fan favorite A.J. Brown to the Eagles.

The receiver position was a need for the Titans, and with the addition of Burks and the trading away of Brown, it’s still a need. You can argue that Brown is not worth top four WR money, but that’s where the market is at. Additionally, was Brown worth just a first and third-round pick?

The Titans then had a chance to attempt to end the night on a high note by making a pick at No. 26 overall. But instead, they sent that selection and a third-round pick to the Jets for a second-round pick, third-round pick and a fifth-round pick. Mike Vrabel said Thursday night that Tennessee “went to the extreme” to keep Brown in Nashville. We don’t know what “the extreme” was, but this came down to money. It also doesn’t look good that Brown told Titans fans on the way out that none of this was his fault

The Titans are not official “losers” of the 2022 NFL Draft, as there’s many more picks to be made. But, they are certainly one of the NFL fan bases that will wake up sad Friday morning. 

Winner: Eagles and A.J. Brown

The Titans lost a key offensive weapon and the Eagles gained one. Right after being traded, Philly gave Brown a four-year, $100 million deal that includes $57 million guaranteed, per ESPN. That AAV of $25 million makes Brown the fourth-highest paid receiver in the NFL. This makes Brown a winner, since he got the money he was after.

The Eagles were a team expected to be in the mix for a receiver in the first round, but their entire depth chart is full of young guys at that position. It makes sense to throw a bag at an established home-run hitter that can help Jalen Hurts. This move immediately makes them better, and they also drafted Jordan Davis at No. 13 overall, who is as massive as he is talented. He and Fletcher Cox in the middle of the defensive line should make running the ball very tough for opponents.

Loser: Quarterbacks

Most people were expecting three quarterbacks to be selected in the first round. Nope. We got one. And the lone signal-caller came at No. 20 overall, as the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to keep Kenny Pickett in town. What’s even more surprising than just one quarterback being drafted in the first round was that it wasn’t Malik Willis! He was seen by many as the top quarterback in the class, and certainly the prospect with the most upside. He fired off some tweets after the conclusion of the first round.

A sneaky winner in the first round was the Lions. They landed a hometown hero in Aidan Hutchinson at No. 2 overall, something that was considered relatively far-fetched just a couple of months ago, and then traded up in the first round to grab Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams at No. 12 overall. It’s surprising that Williams was the fourth wide receiver taken. While he tore his ACL in the national championship loss vs. Georgia, Williams caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2021. He was a first-team All-SEC playmaker, and led the SEC in receiving yards. Those are two legitimate top 10 picks. 

For the 20th year in a row, the Green Bay Packers did not draft a wide receiver in the first round. This was especially shocking since Green Bay held two first-round picks! 

To the Packers’ credit, six wide receivers were drafted with the first 18 picks, so the front office probably would have had to reach on a guy they didn’t have a first-round grade on. That’s what Rodgers said on the “Pat McAfee Show”:

“Well I’ve had a little insight, I’ve been talking with him throughout the night … so I know that they really liked Wyatt early on and were wondering if he was gonna be there, at either pick I believe, and when the linebacker was there in the 20s and all six of those receivers, I believe it was six who they had first round grades on, were gone, I think it was pretty obvious that they wanted to sure up those two spots in their mind … I’m sure Packer nation will be wondering why we didn’t take a receiver or trade up or whatnot, but at this point you just gotta have some faith in the organization.”

Rodgers appears fine with how the first round played out, and maybe he truly is OK with it. Still, you know he wanted one of those first-round receivers. Davante Adams ain’t around anymore. Green Bay needs to address the position in the second round.