NFL Draft: Grading each team's performance after the 1st round

The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft is in the books, and it’s fair to say that it was an incredibly wild night in Las Vegas, fitting that so many gambles should take place on one night.

A lot of teams will have had their futures either made or broken based on the turn of a draft card, whilst others sat back and watched everything happen from a distance.

And that’s before we get into the crazy amount of trades that took place, a record nine in the first draft. Whilst some of them were the straight-forward picks for picks, we also saw a couple of wide receivers traded on draft night.

Tennessee Titans man A.J Brown found himself a new home in Philadelphia with the Eagles, whilst the Baltimore Ravens’ Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown moved west to the desert to join the Arizona Cardinals.

And the best bit about the draft, is that we get to do it all again tonight and even into Saturday as we go through rounds 2-7.

How did your team do?

But let’s focus on last night for just a little bit longer before we move into the future and what could transpire over the next few days.

Whilst it is still obviously too early to tell for sure whether or not these players will be a success, and as we have documented, there is always the chance that one of these players turns out not to be worth their draft spot, here is how we think the first round went for each team based on first impression.

AFC South

Jacksonville Jaguars – A

A lot of promise in Travon Walker with their first pick, but seeing as how he was a late riser in the draft, it could be a case of them ‘reaching’ or ‘overthinking’ on someone when Aidan Hutchinson comes across as the better instant starter.

An incredibly solid trade-in to pick up Devin Lloyd to replace the departing Miles Jack should give them cause for optimism moving forward.

Houston Texans – A

The pick-up of Derek Stingley Jr, arguably the best defensive back in the draft, will certainly address a lot of their problems on one side of the ball.

On the other side, Kenyon Green comes across as a very solid offensive lineman to protect Davis Mills, but given who was still available on the board in Trevor Penning, they may have ended up picking up the wrong lineman.

Tennessee Titans – B

Whilst Treylon Burks might have the potential to be productive in the league, even with what they got back, to give away someone like A.J Brown to do so made very little sense, when they could have got themselves another solid starter in their initial spot.

Very much a case of ‘better the devil you know’, and this could end up backfiring on them if Burks struggles to break out in his first year.

Indianapolis Colts – F

Pick was used to acquire Carson Wentz ahead of the 2021 season. Seeing as he is now off the team and they failed to make the playoffs with him on the roster, this goes down as a pretty disastrous move, and you have to hope they have more success with the 3rd they gave up for Matt Ryan.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens – B+

For a team that gave up the most passing yards in the league last year, the secondary was going to be critical, so they did a good job getting someone that can help all over the field in Kyle Hamilton.

The pick of Tyler Linderbaum was somewhat strange when it’s the defensive line that arguably needed the most work for them after the secondary, especially if they hope to put pressure on some of the big-name QBs in the AFC in the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Steelers – B-

The QB class this year was renowned for not being the best so to take a quarterback in the first round was always going to be a risk.

And with many saying that Malik Willis was the better of the two, it was strange for them to pick up Kenny Pickett with Mitch Trubisky already on the roster and with other positions needing much more attention. Arguably should have waited until the second round or maybe even left it until next year’s draft.

Cincinnati Bengals – B

Nothing too spectacular with their pick of Daxton Hill, should arguably have focused on a linebacker or defensive line to deal with the vast array of rushing talent in the AFC North (Jackson, Chubb, Hunt, Harris), especially as their secondary was pretty solid to begin with.

Cleveland Browns – TBD

Pick traded away to acquire Deshaun Watson. Will have to wait and see whether or not this ends up being worth it, but with the legal issues hanging over him, you fear that this could ultimately backfire on him.

AFC East

New York Jets – A-

A solid pick with their first pick with Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, but with the reports surrounding a possible trade for Deebo Samuel, you feel they may have been better off giving this up for a proven NFL receiver rather than a rookie in Garrett Wilson.

Somewhat made up for it with their final pick in Jermaine Johnson II, but the lack of Samuel may ultimately be a big regret for a team that could have used such a versatile weapon like Samuel.

New England Patriots – B

Would have preferred to see them take an extra weapon to work with Mac Jones and to help him flourish, especially given how poor the receivers played last season.

Whilst you can always put faith on Bill Belichick to turn little-known players into starts, ala Tom Brady and Julian Edelmen, the pick of Cole Strange does seem like a reach for that logic.

Buffalo Bills – A-

A pretty solid pick with Kaiir Elam, whilst it might not mean much for them in their division given the talent at QB in the AFC East, when they get into the playoffs and face the likes of Burrow/Mahomes/Herbert/Wilson, he could provide them with a few more big plays to help out on defence and give Josh Allen a little bit more breathing room rather than having to have to pull off miracles.

Miami Dolphins – N/A

Pick used to acquire Tyreek Hill. If he can produce anything like what he did in Kansas City, then it would have been totally worth it. But will be interesting to see what he can do without Patrick Mahomes, which puts a lot of pressure on Tua Tagovailoa’s shoulders.

AFC West

Los Angeles Chargers – A

I said going into the draft that the most important thing for them to do was to protect Justin Herbert, and they did exactly that by drafting Zion Johnson, whilst also providing someone for Austin Ekeler to run behind to add to an already stacked offence that will need to keep up with the likes of Kansas City in their division.

Kansas City Chiefs – A

A very good first pick with Trent McDuffie, given the QBs that are in the same division, addressing the secondary to make things tough for them was going to be crucial and they have someone who can make big plays for them.

Then to add a very productive defensive end in George Karlaftis to pressure those QBs could arguably be a sneaky good steal on draft night.

Denver Broncos – TBD

Given up to take Russell Wilson, who has shown that he can still work magic despite not having a lot to work with in Seattle, but certainly has a lot of upside that can help make an instant impact on the Broncos.

Las Vegas Raiders – TBD

Used their pick to trade for Davante Adams. Whilst a very nice receiver in his own right, the drop off from working with Aaron Rodgers to working with Derek Carr might end up having an impact on what he can do, so may have to carry the load a bit more.

NFC South

Carolina Panthers – A-

Fixed a position of need with one of the best offensive linemen in the draft Ikem Ekwonu so they can protect whoever their QB is set to be this year. Without a pick until round 4, if they did want a QB, they don’t have a lot of ammo to work with if they want to bring one in.

Atlanta Falcons – B+

Took the best receiver on the board in Drake London and should see some production to fill in for Calvin Ridley, but is this just a short-term solution when they could have brought in someone in a position of greater need for the long run?

New Orleans Saints – B+

Trevor Penning was a solid pick who should do an excellent job in protecting the quarterback, but arguably should have picked up a signal-caller when they had the chance. They might be forced to swing big in terms of a trade if they want to take one tonight.

Tampa Bay BuccaneersTBD

Traded out of the first round to leave them without a pick on the first night, but they are officially on the clock for the second night. Might be a case of quantity over quality for them as they look to add as many pieces as possible to get as much out of Tom Brady as they can.

NFC North

Detroit Lions – A+

Got themselves arguably the best defensive lineman of the class with their first pick in Aidan Hutchinson who should offer instant production. A pretty bold move to bring in a top-notch receiver in Jameson Williams with their second pick who should give Jared Goff a decent target to work with to save himself in the last year of his deal.

Green Bay Packers – B-

Once again another year that the Packers refuse to get Aaron Rodgers some form of help in the first round. Solid defensive picks in the form of Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt, but unless there’s a splash for someone like Deebo Samuel or OBJ coming, you have to feel like Rodgers isn’t going to be happy.

Minnesota Vikings – A-

Should have targeted a cornerback instead, but no major complaints with picking up Lewis Cine for a defence that got torched on a regular basis last year. And having picked up a few draft picks along the way, there can’t be many complaints for their overall business on the night.

Chicago Bears – TBD

Pick used for Justin Fields during last year’s draft. Fields showed a few positive signs last year, but it’s still too early to tell whether or not they gave up too much in order to bring him in.

NFC East

New York Giants – A+

Knocked it out of the park with their two picks. Games are won ‘in the trenches’ and whilst they didn’t get the best defensive end in Kayvon Thibodeaux with some names already off the board he is still someone who can make an impact.

Then to boot, they got an excellent offensive lineman in Evan Neal to protect Daniel Jones in his ‘make it or break it’ year in a very neat package of the two men. If I could give an A++, I would.

Washington Commanders – A

A solid trade back to pick up Jahan Dotson, but still managed to bring in someone that could make a great impact on their side on day one and give Carson Wentz two great targets opposite Terry McLaurin.

Whilst they arguably could have got better picks along the way in their move with the New Orleans Saints, to move back two spots and get what they did can be seen as good business.

Philadelphia Eagles – A-

Whilst Jordan Davis was a player that they desperately needed, you have to question whether or not they gave up to jump up and grab him.

The trade for A.J Brown may have been the steal of draft night though, better than taking a risk on someone who isn’t proven yet, so they managed to recover themselves somewhat.

Dallas Cowboys – A-

A toss-up between Tyler Smith and Bernhard Rainmann who was also on the board at the time. Certainly addressed a much-needed position, but feel like they may have left the wrong one stranded there, especially given Smith’s tendency to give away penalties.

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks – A-

A solid pick in Charles Cross, but still feel like they should have got their franchise QB here in that spot instead.

With two picks relatively early in the second round, they could go and grab him there, but after the flurry of trades last night, it’s possible that someone could jump them, so they will have to be wary, then we can really assess whether or not going for Cross was right to begin with.

San Francisco 49ers – TBD

Traded away last year to acquire Trey Lance. A somewhat promising rookie year for him in the brief moments we saw, but still too early to tell if this will have been worth it in the long run.

Los Angeles Rams – A

Traded away last year to acquire Matthew Stafford. Managed to get a pretty instant impact out of him straightaway as he helped guide them to a Super Bowl win, which has pretty much made the pick worth it already.

Now the question is whether that one trophy turns into multiple ones down the line.

Arizona Cardinals – N/A

Traded away on draft night to acquire Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown. Another player that could very well be dictated by the quarterback he plays with as he moves away from Ryan Tannehill and onto Kyler Murray, but a smart move to take someone who is proven in this league rather than an untested rookie.

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