2022 NFL Draft Tracker, Live Analysis and Grades: Round 1

by Raina Rutschka and Scott Carasik

The 2022 NFL Draft kicks off tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada. Its arrival comes highly anticipated as the NFL community gathers to find out which prospects will be selected in the first round. Check back often for a live pick-by-pick analysis.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars select EDGE Travon Walker

The first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and former five-star recruit has developed into a consistent EDGE rusher, consistently stopping the run. Walker is projected to be an impressive rookie making an impact as soon as Week 1.

How he fits: Jacksonville was in desperate need of a reliable edge rusher after not seeing much improvement from their front line last season. Walker’s size and force is a great addition for the Jaguars.

Grade: A

2. Detroit Lions select EDGE Aidan Hutchinson

The Lions took Aidan Hutchinson. He is comparable to a Bosa brother. He’s got a high floor similar to that of Patrick Kerney in Atlanta and Seattle. The Lions are getting a great player here with Hutchinson. This is a bit of a no-brainer. Hutchinson might be the best player in the entire draft.

How he fits: Aidan Hutchinson getting drafted by his hometown team just makes sense. Hutchinson is a great fit for the Jaguars and will instantly slot right into the starting defensive end role with the Lions. They will have a team captain type in him as well.

Grade: A+

3. Houston Texans select CB Derek Stingley Jr.

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Often compared to two-time All Pro Stephon Gilmore, Stingley Jr. is sure to bring both speed and power to the Texans. After playing in just 10 games in the last three seasons, Stingley Jr. is ready to leave his mark on the field once again.

How he fits: The Texans have so many needs that nearly any pick was a good one. Stingley Jr. will bring serious explosiveness and a lot of potential to his new team.

Grade: B

4. NY Jets select CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner

Sauce Gardner is the best cornerback in the entire draft. The former Bearcat will be an instant starter for whoever selects him and be the best cornerback on that team. He’s a great fit for either zone or man teams and is one of the more physically-adept corners in the draft.

How he fits: Gardner would be an instant No. 1 corner in the Jets defense. He will instantly slot in at left corner to start for the next decade. Gardner fits not just value, but scheme here. In Robert Saleh’s defense, he’s going to be an instant star.

Grade: A

5. NY Giants select EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux

Before the 2021 season. Thibodeaux was widely regarded as the best player this draft. The powerful 21-year-old EDGE rusher from Oregon is best known for his explosive plays and NFL ready skill-set, with room to grow his pass rush abilities.

How he fits: The Giants have a lot of needs and it was never clear what direction they would go with their first pick. Thibodeaux seems like a BPA pick by the new front office regime in New York. Thankfully, his elite skill set will be a great fit in New York.

Grade: A+

6. Carolina Panthers select OT Ikem Ekwonu

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Ikem Ekwonu is the best left tackle in the draft. He will be a 10-time Pro Bowl starter for the team that drafts him. He’s got the footwork, technique and overall nastiness to be a huge star in the league. He’s going to be that franchise left tackle that whoever draft’s him loves.

How he fits: Carolina just settled their left tackle position for the next 10 years. Ekwonu is also from North Carolina, so he’s going to be an instant star there. The Panthers made the right decision to solidify their line for the next few years.

Grade: A+

7. NY Giants select OT Evan Neal

Evan Neal was highly sought after for his patience and timing, bringing a lot of experience playing against elite talents in college.

How he fits: Offensive tackle was arguably the Giants biggest need this offseason and Neal is the best fit by a long shot. His impressive size and versatility is an instant upgrade in New York.

Grade: A+

8. Atlanta Falcons select WR Drake London

Drake London is a go-up-and-get-it kind of wide receiver. He’s a 6’4”, 220-pound monster who can get snag the ball out of the air. Teams will have trouble guarding him, especially in the red zone. However, injury history and lack of top end speed hurt his value. He should have gone later.

How he fits: London will be the top receiver for the Falcons for a long time. He’s a great wide receiver with a big body and should help Marcus Mariota get the passing yards he’ll need to get with Calvin Ridley out and the Falcons depth chart missing a true No. 1.

Grade: C

9. Seattle Seahawks select T Charles Cross

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Cross brings strong technique to the pro-level, demonstrating impressive control and maximizing his size.

How he fits: The Seahawks have been known for their inability to protect their quarterback, so taking an offensive lineman with their first pick should have been a no brainer. Cross is a great fit for Seattle as they try and rebuild their offense.

Grade: A-

10. NY Jets select WR Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is arguably the third best wide receiver in the draft. He’s going to be a good fit for any offense because he can do a bit of everything. Similar to Calvin Ridley, he’s a smaller-in-frame kind of guy, but he’ll run all of the routes and has great yards-after-catch ability.

How he fits: The Jets go out and get their long-term No. 1 to fit with their quarterback they drafted just a season ago. Garrett Wilson fits in very well with the Jets and can do everything Mike LaFleur will ask him to do. The value is just a few picks off.

Grade: B

11. New Orleans select WR Chris Olave

Olave is a strong route runner that has drawn the eyes of NFL scouts for years. His 40-yard dash time paints the wrong picture, as he is consistently one of the fastest players on the field.

How he fits: After trading up five picks, the Saints instantly have one of the most dangerous wide receiver duos in the league. Olave’s route running combined with Michael Thomas’ ability to stretch the field makes this a great pick for Dennis Allen and his new staff.

Grade: A

12. Detroit selects WR Jameson Williams

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Jameson Williams is the best wide receiver in the draft when he’s healthy. He’s one of the fastest players in football and is very similar to Tyreek Hill in how he wins. He can run all of the routes and burst through to the next level with no issues.

How he fits: Williams will be the No. 1 in Detroit with Amon-Ra St. Brown as the No. 2. The combination of these two guys will give Jared Goff a pair of receivers who win after the catch. He doesn’t have to be available right away either with the Lions in no position to win quickly.

Grade: A

13. Philadelphia Eagles select DT Jordan Davis

Davis possesses unbelievable athleticism, dominating the combine and proving his pro-ready abilities. His power and unbelievable size allow him the space to develop into an elite talent.

How he fits: Davis is a powerhouse by all accounts. His speed is undeniable, running a 4.78 40-yard dash at 341 pounds. His talent fits in nearly anywhere.

Grade: A

14. Ravens Select SS Kyle Hamilton

Kyle Hamilton is the best safety in the draft. He’s going to be one of the best safeties in the NFL. He is very similar to multi-time All-Pro Kam Chancellor in that he can play deep, play in the box or even blitz and be effective at it.

How he fits: The Ravens just brough in Marcus Williams to be their true free safety, so Hamilton will play more of a strong safety in the box type role. The Ravens will have a great set of defensive backs and took arguably the best player in the entire class.

Grade: A+

15. Houston Texans select OT Kenyon Green

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At 6’4” and 323 pounds, Green has the skill level to be a dominant starter his rookie season.

How he fits: The quarterback situation in Houston is in limbo so they might as well fit out the offensive line. Green is a great choice thanks to his undeniable potential stellar run blocking.

Grade: A

16. Commanders select WR Jahan Dotson

At 6’4” and 323 pounds, Green has the skill level to be a dominant starter his rookie season.

Jahan Dotson is a pure speed guy. He can cut defenses with the ball in his hands, and he can beat them deep. He’s a bit smaller than the average wide receiver, but he doesn’t have to be a No. 1 in the NFL. Dotson projects best as a No. 2 wide receiver taking advantage of softer zones.

How he fits: Dotson will be the No. 2 in Washington behind Terry McLaurin. He’s more of a high second-round value than a mid-first round value. Washington wanted their guy though. The Commanders are giving new quarterback Carson Wentz some talent.

Grade: B

17. Chargers select DT Zion Johnson

The 6’3”, 312-pound offensive lineman was one of the stars of the Senior Bowl thanks to his sheer power. In the right scheme, Johnson has the talent to develop into a reliable starter.

How he fits: The Chargers offensive line is coming along nicely thanks their draft last year. Johnson is just the latest piece of an important puzzle to protect their franchise quarterback Justin Herbert.

Grade: B+

18. Titans Select WR Treylon Burks

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Treylon Burks is a big, talented wide receiver who wins in the same kinds of ways that A.J. Brown does. The problem here is that A.J. Brown is now traded for this particular pick. Burks will be able to win against singles in the NFL often.

How he fits: Brown is the No. 1 receiver on the Titans, now. They will have to find a speedy option to pair with him because his top-end speed isn’t all that. However, he’s still a great pick for what they need with Brown not there anymore.

Grade: C

19. Saints select OT Trevor Penning

After starting all 12 games in 2021, Penning is highly regarded as a first-year starter thanks to his unbelievable competitive drive and athleticism.

How he fits: After losing Terron Armstead in free agency, the Saints had a big hole to fill on the offensive line. Drafting Penning was the likely move.

Grade: B

20. Steelers select QB Kenny Pickett

Kenny Pickett isn’t even the best quarterback in the draft, and his small hands will be a hindrance to him at the next level. But teams will love him because he’s tall and can sling it deep. He has a lot of issues with his footwork, but he has a chance to be a star if the Steelers let him develop.

How he fits: Pickett will be the franchise quarterback for the Steelers for the next 10-15 years. He’s a guy who they can build around and be their long-term starter. Their speedy receivers will love this fit, as the former Pittsburgh product will let them run deep as much as they want.

Grade: D

21. Chiefs select CB Trent McDuffie

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Despite being below average in size, McDuffie is a consistent cornerback with the personal awareness to develop into a top tier talent.

How he fits: The Chiefs defense was their weakness in 2021 and after the loss of Tyrann Mathieu, they needed to pad their secondary and they chose to do so with a cornerback that nicely fits the culture in KC.

Grade: B-

22. Packers select LB Quay Walker

Quay Walker is a bit of a surprise pick but he’s definitely the most athletic linebacker in the draft this year. He’s someone who can play well next to De’Vondre Campbell in the middle of the Eagles defense. He can rush the passer from the interior and also play well in coverage.

How he fits: The Packers got a linebacker who doesn’t need to wear the green dot and be the captain of the defense in Walker. Walker has the talent to play second fiddle and still be an extremely effective linebacker within the defense.

Grade: B

23. Bills select CB Kaiir Elam

The Bills traded up into the first round to get, Elam, who had a rocky 2021. Despite his turbulent season, he showed improvement and a strong ability to take to coaching.

How he fits: With Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde, Ed Oliver, etc., etc., the Bills young defense is quickly turning into one of the best in the league. Elam is a nice rotational piece to a solid secondary.

Grade: C

24. Cowboys select OT Tyler Smith

University of Tulsa Athletic Department

Tyler Smith is a beastly left tackle prospect from Tulsa. He’s got great footwork and can slot right in as a left tackle or a right tackle. Teams will have trouble getting by him at the next level because of his great anchor and solid frame overall.

How he fits: The Cowboys likely start out with Tyler Smith at right tackle. But over time, expect him to eventually replace Tyron Smith at the left tackle position. Tyler Smith has a long future ahead of him pushing people around in the NFC east.

Grade: B

25. Ravens select IOL Tyler Linderbaum

Linderbaum possesses the size and power needed to succeed in the NFL, bringing impressive footwork and control to the front line.

How he fits: The Ravens needed to address the center position after losing Bradley Bozeman in free agency. Linderbaum is highly regarded as the best center in the league, although he wasn’t the best player available for Baltimore.

Grade: C+

26. NY Jets select EDGE Jermaine Johnson

Jermaine Johnson is John Abraham part two. He’s a great fit for any 3-4 or 4-3 defense and has a ton of speed, agility and intelligence in his pass rush. He’s a high character guy who will lead the defense and get guys around him playing better than expected.

How he fits: The Jets would instantly have a premier pass rusher to pair with Carl Lawson in their defense. Johnson is a monster who fits in perfectly with the defense that uses 4-3 and 3-4 concepts. They have their new pass rushing ace.

Grade: A+

27. Jaguars select LB Devin Lloyd

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The former first-team Associated Press All-American and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the year is headed to Jacksonville after the Jaguars traded back in to the first round. Lloyd can play multiple positions but excels in pass rush situations.

How he fits: The Jaguars needed a linebacker to compliment Josh Allen and Foye Oluokun and Lloyd is a reliable option who has potential to develop into a great starter.

Grade: B

28. Packers select DL Devonte Wyatt

Devonte Wyatt is the best interior pass rusher in the draft. He has quick hands and creates havoc in the backfield and can destroy the interior of an offensive line. He was the best pass rusher on the national championship Georgia team and played all three downs.

How he fits: Wyatt will start right away next to Kenny Clark keeping blockers off of De’Vondre Campbell and earlier pick Quay Walker. He can create pressure on third downs and will help them dominate the line of scrimmage on defense.

Grade: A+

29. Patriots select IOL Cole Strange

Strange has a high football IQ with the ability to read plays early. His switfness and agility makes him a strong choice on the offensive line.

How he fits: If any team can develop Strange into an elite player, its the Patriots. Now that they have found their next franchise quarterback in Mac Jones, surrounding him with a top tier offensive line has to be the priority. With the right coaching, Strange could develop into a reliable guard.

Grade: C

30. Chiefs select EDGE George Karlaftis

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George Karlaftis is a talented pass rusher who fits in the 3-4 and the 4-3 looks that the NFL runs. With the Chiefs, he’ll be keeping his hand in the dirt where he can launch off and build quick speed off the line. He will be best as a complementary rusher in the NFL.

How he fits: With Frank Clark as the primary pass rusher, Karlaftis will be the secondary rusher in Kansas City. He’s a great value here as he’s a late first round talent. The Chiefs will be able to start him right away and have Mike Danna and Joshua Kaindoh rotate in behind him.

Grade: A

31. Bengals select S Daxton Hill

Hill is a versatile player that brings a profound combination of speed and situational awareness. He is able to read defenses quickly and locate the ball with ease.

How he fits: The Bengals did a great job in free agency filling many of their biggest roster holes giving them the chance to draft relatively freely. Hill’s talent allows him to play from many spots on the field. If utilized properly, he can be a massive addition to an already great roster.

Grade: B+

32. Vikings select FS Lewis Cine

Lewis Cine is a talented all-around safety and should be an instant starter in the NFL. He’s a heady safety who could end up being a multi-time Pro Bowl player if he’s used in the deep safety role that he was used in while at college. He was a high second round value, so the value is good here.

How he fits: With Harrison Smith at strong safety in Minnesota, the Vikings get the perfect pairing for him. Cine will be able to patrol the deep third for the Vikings and could be a playmaker like Anthony Harris was when he was with them.

Grade: A

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