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2022 NFL Draft: Grades For All 32 First-Round Picks

After Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson were the first off the board, several trades shook up Round 1. Who won the first day in Las Vegas?

After the first five picks all went to defensive players, blockbuster trades caused chaos on Day 1 of the 2022 NFL draft. The Saints, Lions and Eagles all traded up for high-profile talent. Then the Ravens dealt receiver Marquise Brown and the Titans traded away wideout A.J. Brown, both for more draft capital.

A run on receivers saw some teams pick up steals later in Round 1, while some late-round offensive line picks looked like reaches. Here are Kevin Hanson’s complete draft grades for each first-round selection.


1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, DE, Georgia

Jaguars GM Trent Baalke “sees a lot of Aldon Smith in Walker.” Given the early success he had in San Francisco with Smith (33 ½ sacks in his first two seasons), Baalke is hoping a bet on Walker’s traits and upside will pay off like it did back in 2011. While I would have preferred Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson here and Walker a few spots later (as my eighth-ranked prospect overall), no edge rusher in my top 262 has longer arms (35 ½") than Walker, who also ran an unreal 4.51 40-yard dash at 272 pounds. His pass-rush production has been modest (9 ½ sacks in three years), but he’s an outstanding run defender. Former first-rounder K’Lavon Chaisson has underwhelmed (two sacks in 31 games), so Walker will provide a significant upgrade opposite Josh Allen if he reaches his potential.


2. Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

Not only is he my top-ranked prospect, but Hutchinson is also the type of prospect Dan Campbell will appreciate due to his relentless energy, leadership and intangibles. In addition, he fills one of the team’s biggest needs as only two teams had fewer sacks than the Lions (30) in 2021. Hutchinson was productive (school-record 14 sacks) and is polished at this stage of his development, but he doesn’t get enough credit for his athleticism. His combine times in the 3-cone (6.73) and 20-yard shuttle (4.15) ranked sixth and fourth, respectively, regardless of position. The son of a former Michigan captain, Hutchinson’s football character, relentless motor combined with his physical traits, polish and production make him one of the safest picks in the draft.


3. Houston TexansDerek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

The Texans have lots of needs, so they just need good football players. No draft-eligible cornerback had a better individual season than Stingley, and it’s impressive that it was when he was an 18-year-old true freshman during LSU’s title run. Unfortunately, his past two seasons have been marred by injury and/or play not up to that elite 2019 level. The 20-year-old Stingley has the speed, athleticism and fluidity to thrive on an island in addition to outstanding ball skills (six INTs in ’19). If he stays healthy, Stingley immediately boosts the Texans’ pass defense, and he has the upside to develop into one of the league’s best cornerbacks.


4. New York Jets: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati 

Ideally suited for press coverage, Gardner is a lanky corner with elite length (33 ½" arms), toughness and confidence. When asked at the combine how he’ll react to giving up an NFL touchdown, Gardner said “I don’t have plans on giving one up.” “Sauce” has ended each of his three seasons in Cincinnati with three interceptions. The Jets needed an upgrade at corner, and he has the chance to become one of the best. The AFC East has Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs, and he immediately helps to slow them down some.


5. New York GiantsKayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon 

Thibodeaux left Oregon with solid production—19 sacks and 35.5 TFLs over three seasons—but he has an impressive combination of speed (4.58 40-yard dash) and strength (position-high 27 bench press reps at the combine). With his explosive first step and closing burst, double-digit sacks should become the norm for Thibodeaux relatively early in his NFL career, and he gives the Giants another talented young pass-rusher to pair with Azeez Ojulari, who had eight sacks as a rookie last season. He’s a top-three prospect, so the Giants get some good value here.


6. Carolina PanthersIkem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State

The Panthers’ two biggest needs heading into the draft were offensive tackle and quarterback. Instead of reaching for a quarterback, they get their choice of offensive tackle and keep Ekwonu in North Carolina. Ekwonu is arguably the best run-blocking offensive lineman in this draft and over the past few drafts. Powerful at the point of attack with his nimble feet and movement skills, Ekwonu has been dubbed “Mr. Pancake” (due to the volume of his pancake blocks). Even though he occasionally oversets in pass protection, he possesses the traits, intelligence and character that should allow him to continue to make significant strides in that aspect.


7. New York Giants: Evan Neal, OL, Alabama

Neal offers the Giants versatility, as he started at left guard, right tackle and left tackle over the past three seasons, respectively. The former five-star recruit has an impressive combination of size, length and power, but he’s a smooth mover for a prospect his size. Neal is a freakish athlete who topped Bruce Feldman’s annual freaks list for The Athletic. Left tackle Andrew Thomas improved in 2021 from his rookie season, but the Giants’ offensive line needed an upgrade at right tackle, and Neal provides that on day one. Neal was my top-ranked offensive linemen and fourth-ranked prospect.


8. Atlanta Falcons: Drake London, WR, USC

A former USC basketball player, London uses his large frame well to box out defenders. His wide catch radius and strong hands help him dominate at the catch point. London is a young prospect (turns 21 in late July), but he was highly productive—88 receptions for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns in just eight games—last season. He’s a big-bodied receiver that fits the type that Arthur Smith prefers, and he fills an immediate void at receiver, as Calvin Ridley is suspended for 2022 and Russell Gage signed with the Bucs.


9. Seattle Seahawks: Charles Cross, OL, Mississippi State 

Cross has had tons of pass-blocking reps over the past two seasons, and the former five-star recruit showed significant improvement from 2020 to ’21. The two-year starter has plus length (34 ½" arms), athleticism, balance and hand placement. All of his starts have been at left tackle, and he provides the Seahawks with an immediate upgrade there as a day one starter. Cross was my ninth-ranked prospect, but many expected him to be off the board before this.


10. New York Jets: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

While the Jets missed out on a trade for Tyreek Hill, they get help for Zach Wilson with my top-ranked receiver in this class and seventh-ranked prospect overall. Wilson has outstanding body control, ball skills and is dynamic after the catch. Quick and elusive, Wilson ran a faster-than-expected 40-yard dash (4.38) in Indianapolis. He’s a complete receiver that finished 2021 with 70 catches for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns.



11. New Orleans Saints: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Olave creates easy separation as one of the most polished route-runners in this year’s draft class. Due to his speed and ability to track the ball well, he can be a weapon in the vertical passing game. He finished his Ohio State career with a school record for receiving touchdowns (35) and averaged 15.4 yards per catch. Olave is more of a complementary receiver than a true No. 1, but he complements Michael Thomas well. The pick and team are a great match, but the Saints gave up a lot (98th and 120th picks) to move up for my fifth-ranked receiver and 23rd-ranked prospect overall.


12. Detroit Lions: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Williams had a breakout season (79/1,572/15) in 2021 after transferring to Alabama. While not just a deep threat, Williams’s track background shows up on the field with his game-breaking speed. Despite tearing his ACL in January, Williams is “ahead of schedule” in his rehab. Even if he were to miss time to start his rookie season, Williams has the talent to emerge as the WR1 in this draft class. The Lions signed D.J. Chark to a one-year deal, but the speedy Williams provides the Lions with an ideal long-term complement to Amon-Ra St. Brown.


13. Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

It’s not surprising to see Howie Roseman use a first-round pick on the defensive line. Physically imposing and stout at the point of the attack, Davis immediately provides a shot in the arm to Philadelphia’s run defense. His impact is not always felt in the box score, but he opens up opportunities for those around him to make plays. While he may primarily be utilized as a two-down run stuffer to begin his career, his elite mobility (4.78 40-yard dash at 341 pounds) should enable him to develop into a more disruptive player on passing downs.


14. Baltimore Ravens: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

The Ravens get a steal with my second-ranked player overall. Hamilton’s timed 40-yard dashes—4.59 at the combine and in the 4.7 range at Notre Dame’s pro day—disappointed, but he has outstanding range. With a rare combination of size and length at the position, Hamilton’s athleticism, fluidity, smarts and instincts allow him to make plays all over the field against the run and pass.


15. Houston Texans: Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

Green started at right guard in 2019, left guard in ’20 and then made starts at all offensive line positions except center in ’21. Green is ideally suited to play guard, although his added versatility is a plus. Improved hand usage will help cut down on holding penalties, but the former five-star recruit has a powerful lower half, outstanding length and is at his best in the run game. Green was my 30th-ranked prospect, so this is a bit of a reach here.


16. Washington Commanders: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

The Commanders had only one receiver (Terry McLaurin) with 400-plus yards last season and will benefit from adding a talented receiver like Dotson. Creating separation with his nuanced route-running and quickness, Dotson has outstanding hands and is elusive in the open field even though he won’t break a lot of tackles. Dotson adds value as a punt returner and finished his final season at Penn State with 91 catches for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns. Dotson was 28th-ranked player overall.


17. Los Angeles Chargers: Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College

The Chargers hit with last year’s first-round pick (Rashawn Slater) and continue to boost their protection for Justin Herbert with Johnson. Johnson is smart and polished, plays under control and with good balance. Including his two seasons at Davidson, Johnson has double-digit starts at three different positions—left guard, right tackle and left tackle—and took reps at center during Senior Bowl week. While he can handle a spot start at tackle if necessary, he’s ideally suited to the play guard for the Chargers.


18. Tennessee Titans: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

After trading A.J. Brown to the Eagles, the Titans replace him with a big, physical wide receiver. Burks plays faster than his timed speed with the acceleration to run away from defenders. Due to his physicality, run-after-catch prowess and how the Razorbacks varied his alignments, it’s easy to see how the Titans could use Burks similarly to how the 49ers use Deebo Samuel. Burks finished 2021 with 66 receptions for 1,104 yards, 14 carries for 112 yards and a total of 12 touchdowns. Burks is the sixth receiver off the board and my fourth-ranked receiver.


19. New Orleans Saints: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

The Saints fill their need at left tackle now that Terron Armstead is in Miami. Penning plays to the echo of the whistle and has the tenacity and nasty demeanor that will endear him to New Orleans’s coaches. He has prototypical size and length, outstanding strength and athletic feet. Plus, he has primarily started at left tackle (31 of 33 starts).


Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

While the Steelers won’t need to start Pickett right away after signing Mitchell Trubisky, he gets to continue playing his home games at Heinz Field, where he started for Pitt. He is a four-year starter who broke Deshaun Watson’s ACC record for most passing touchdowns (42) in a season while cutting down on interceptions (seven) in 2021. Per PFF, 25 of those touchdown passes were against the blitz. He has good (not elite) arm strength and mobility, moves quickly through his progressions and is accurate to all three levels.


21. Kansas City Chiefs: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

The Chiefs lost Charvarius Ward and Mike Hughes in free agency, so McDuffie will help address that need in their secondary. Although he has just average size and lacks length (sub-30" arms), he’s aggressive and physical in run support and limits yards after the catch. He has outstanding short-area quickness, fluid hips and is rarely out of position. McDuffie is at his best in zone coverage, but he’s scheme-diverse and has the versatility to play outside, in the slot and even some safety. He is my 16th-ranked prospect.


22. Green Bay Packers: Quay Walker, LB, Georgia

 Walker finally became a full-time starter on Georgia’s loaded defense in 2021. The former four-star recruit has outstanding speed (4.52 40-yard dash) and changes directions well for a linebacker his size. Although he can be over-aggressive at times, he’s a reliable tackler with the traits to be disruptive in coverage or as a blitzer. The first linebacker off the board, Walker was the fourth linebacker in my rankings.


23. Buffalo Bills: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

The Bills need an upgrade opposite Tre’Davious White, and White himself is rehabbing from a torn ACL. Elam has an NFL pedigree, as both his father (Abe) and uncle (Matt) played safety in the league. Kaiir has outstanding straight-line speed (4.39 40-yard dash), and he’s at his best in press where he can use his size and physicality at the line of scrimmage.


24. Dallas Cowboys: Tyler Smith, OL, Tulsa

La’el Collins and Connor Williams are no longer on the roster, and Tyron Smith and Zack Martin are both on the wrong side of 30, so it makes sense to invest in the offensive line. Smith is a young prospect—turned 21 earlier this month—and has started the past two-plus seasons at left tackle for Tulsa. While he has the athleticism and length (34" arms) to stick outside, a move inside would allow him to clean up some technical issues. Smith has tremendous power and the bully mentality to be a dominant run blocker and offers plenty of upside. Jermaine Johnson, my 11th-ranked prospect, would have been a much better value here, though.


25. Baltimore Ravens: Tyler Linderbaum, OL Iowa

After getting a huge value with Hamilton at No. 14, the Ravens get another value with Linderbaum at No. 25. Not only is he my top-ranked center and arguably the best center prospect over the past several drafts, but he is also 14th-ranked prospect overall. While he has sub-32” arms and a frame that limits him to center, Linderbaum has elite lateral mobility and is an outstanding run blocker who will fit well with what the Ravens want to do on offense.


26. New York Jets: Jermaine Johnson II, LB, Florida State

What a steal! Not only do they get Carl Lawson back from injury, but they add one of the most talented pass-rushers in the draft. Johnson led the ACC in both tackles for loss (17.5) and sacks (11.5) in 2021 as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Johnson continued to improve his stock throughout the pre-draft process, and he uses his blend of strength, length (34” arms) and burst to make plays against the run and pass.



27. Jacksonville Jaguars: Devin Llyod, LB, Utah

The Jaguars added Foye Oluokun in free agency to replace Miles Jack and they get an upgrade to pair with Oluokun. Lloyd is a do-it-all, three-down linebacker who can impact the game in a variety of ways. He stuffed the stat sheet last season with 110 tackles, 22 TFLs, eight sacks and four interceptions (including two returned for scores). The rangy former high school safety has the size and length to match up with tight ends and outstanding ball skills. A top-15 prospect in my rankings, the Jags get a nice value here.


28. Green Bay Packers: Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia

Instead of forcing a wide receiver here, the Packers get a disruptive interior defensive lineman. Georgia had lots of “freaks” on defense and Wyatt was the team’s “biggest freak,” according to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman’s 2021 preseason list. He showed off his elite quickness and athleticism by running a 4.77 40-yard dash at 304 pounds at the combine. Wyatt is a well-rounded prospect who is stout against the run and more developed as a pass rusher than teammate Jordan Davis. He is my 22nd-ranked prospect.


29. New England Patriots: Cole Strange, OL, Chattanooga

While he’ll fill the void created by Ted Karras and has versatility to play guard or center, this is a surprise, as they likely could have waited at least another round, possibly two, for Strange. Strange has good balance and quick feet and should be a solid interior blocker, even though the value in Round 1 is less than ideal.


30. Kansas City Chiefs: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue

The Chiefs could use more pass-rush help, and Karlaftis gives their pass rush a boost while offering solid value here. The former Boilermaker is my 18th-ranked prospect. While he lacks ideal length and bend at the top of his rush, he wins with power. He has a quick first step, violent and active hands and a nonstop motor with the versatility to line up inside or outside.


31. Cincinnati Bengals: Daxton Hill, LB, Michigan

Although he’s built more like a cornerback, Hill is physical and willing to throw his body around as a tackler. He showed off his elite athleticism by running a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine and ranked second among all combine participants in the 3-cone (6.57) and 20-yard shuttle (4.06). The Bengals will appreciate his versatility, as he can play anywhere on the back end. Hill was the top-ranked prospect available (23rd overall) on my board.


32. Minnesota Vikings: Lewis Cine, LB, Georgia

Cine is an outstanding athlete with good size who could be a long-term replacement for Harrison Smith. He ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the combine and led all safeties in the broad jump (11’1”). He’s a smart defender and sees the game well. Cine delivers some big hits in run support and is a reliable tackler in space with sideline-to-sideline range.


Kevin Hanson is contributing mock drafts and position rankings to The MMQB during the 2022 NFL draft season. His mock drafts have been graded as the seventh-most accurate (tied) over the past five years, per The Huddle Report. His ’15 NFL mock draft was graded as the most accurate.

More NFL draft coverage:

Baalke Stakes Reputation on No. 1 Pick Walker
Hutchinson Can Lift Lions to Legitimacy
A.J. Brown Blockbuster Was Two Years in the Making
Steelers Get Top QB Choice Pickett in Their Laps