The highly anticipated first round of the 2022 NFL Draft is over – and what a whirlwind Round 1 has been.
Thursday was banner night in defense of national college football champions 2021 but not so much for the guys who break up the huddle and throw the ball. The first round featured a flurry of trades – deals that included picks and players, but maybe not the guy some were expecting.
And all of this could be the prelude to an eventful Friday, which is sure to feature many good players in Round 2 and maybe more league action before the draft resumes.
But for now, let’s focus on the first-round winners and losers:
NFL DRAFT TRACKING: Analysis on each selection in the first round
BEST AVAILABLE PLAYERS: What are the best board options going into Day 2?
New York: The Big Apple cleaned up Sin City. Since the start of the 2017 season, the Jets and Giants have both gone 22-59, tied for the NFL’s worst record over that span. But Thursday could mark a course correction for both franchises, with each enjoying a pair of top-10 picks. The Giants walked away with Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux and Alabama OT Evan Neal, two players who appeared to be under consideration for the No. 1 pick at different points in the pre-draft process. The Jets nabbed Cincinnati CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson, highly valued prospects who filled Gang Green’s primary needs. However, the return of general manager Joe Douglas in the first round to end the slide of Florida State passer Jermaine Johnson II to No. 26 could be the move that makes the Jets the big winners of this draft.
Defense of the University of Georgia: The first round started with the Jacksonville Jaguars make Bulldogs DE Travon Walker the No. 1 overall pick. It ended with Dawgs S Lewis Cine going to the Minnesota Vikings. In between, DT Jordan Davis (Eagles), LB Quay Walker (Packers) and DT Devonte Wyatt (Packers) were all called up, giving Georgia a joint NFL draft record (since 1967) five defensemen enrolled in the first round. And LBs Nakobe Dean and Channing Tindall will almost certainly hear their names called on Friday. Let’s also give an honorable mention to Johnson, who played for Georgia in 2019 and 2020.
A.J. Brown: He had exchanged from Tennessee Titans to the Philadelphia Eagles, but gets a four-year, $100 million extension ($57 million guaranteed) to ease the worsening relocation. He should pair up very well with DeVonta Smith, and the duo should give QB Jalen Hurts every chance to thrive in 2022.
Wide Receivers: Half a dozen came off the board between slots eight and 18 – also the first time six wides have been taken in the first 20 selections of a draft. Wilson and Chris Olave (Saints) of Ohio State went back to back for 10th and 11th places. Meanwhile, AJ Brown and Marquise Brown (Cardinals) were traded. Such a run on the position provides further proof that the receiver has become the NFL’s second most important position … as if financial commitments to AJ Brown, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill weren’t proof enough.
Amazon: Perhaps you have heard of the quaint internet trading company? Otherwise, the NFL shone the spotlight on it by revealing midway through the draft that the Chiefs will host the Chargers on the first Thursday night game aired on Prime Video September 15.
Foals: The Carson Wentz experiment cost them their place in the first round, but it sure looked like the gap between Indianapolis and Tennessee, who have won the last two AFC South crowns, had narrowed — perhaps by significantly – with AJ Brown leaving the division.
Report of the packers: They still hasn’t picked wide in the first round since Javon Walker in 2002. Hopefully they can find another Adams, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson or Greg Jennings in the second round.
Defense: For the first time since 1991, the first five players drafted did not come from the offensive end of the ball. The Panthers broke the streak at No. 6 by taking NC State LT Ikem “Ickey” Ekwonu.
Michigan: Whether you’re a Wolverines or Lions fan, you had to be happy enough to see DEAidan Hutchinson move from Ann Arbor on the road to Detroit with the No. 2 pick. Expect the Plymouth native – is it wrong to compare a guy from UM to the Bosa brothers from Ohio State? — to bring much-needed juice to Ford Field for the next decade. (And if Hutchinson needs help energizing his new fanbase, former Alabama WR Jameson Williams should make up the difference.)
Derek Stingley Jr.: Seen as a future top-five after his scintillating freshman season at LSU in 2019, he’s proven to be exactly that — passing No. 3 to the Houston Texans and surprisingly the first cornerback picked — despite a road from a rocky injury that derailed Stingley the last two seasons in Baton Rouge.
Chaos: The picks began to exchange hands furiously in the middle of Thursday night. Once the dust settled, the top three Round 2 selections were under new ownership. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will select the first Friday, followed by the Vikings and Titans. The Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers are set to debut in the 2022 draft in the second round.
Debo Samuel: As AJ Brown has been moved and paid off, and Marquise Brown is switching to a more passing-focused offense as he tries to build a case, he’s a prime target, Samuel’s desire to be released from the Niners will apparently not be fulfilled. It’s time for marriage counseling.
Cardinals: Parting with a first-round pick for Hollywood Brown, as much as former Oklahoma teammate QB Kyler Murray may like, is pretty rich for a receiver who’s been good but not great in three NFL seasons. Maybe Brown explodes after being released from Baltimore’s run-centric offense, but that’s quite a gamble from general manager Steve Keim.
Rookie Quarterbacks: Only one, Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, has been taken. The last time there were so few in the first round was in 2013. The 20th player selected was the longest wait for a draft QB1 since Jim Druckenmiller lasted to No. 26 in 1997.
Veteran quarters: With Liberty’s Malik Willis, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, Ole Miss’s Matt Corral and North Carolina’s Sam Howell still on the board, veterans like Jimmy Garoppolo of the 49ers and Baker Mayfield of the Browns are likely less likely to see their situations of 2022 resolved on Friday since so many moving parts remain.
Steelers: Given that they share their training facility with the Pitt Panthers, no NFL team had better visibility on Pickett … so Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin and retired general manager Kevin Colbert certainly deserve the credit. the benefit of the doubt. But the onus will be on Pickett to prove he’s a superior prospect to Willis, whose advantage looks significantly higher. And given that the Steelers already had veteran Mitchell Trubisky on the roster, Pickett’s selection just seems to land as a side move.
Terrell Owens: the The astonishing selection of the Patriots of OL Cole Strange at No. 29 means TO is no longer Tennessee-Chattanooga’s highest-drafted player. Owens, who became a Hall of Famer, was the 89th pick in 1996.
Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers: The receiver race has left Mahomes’ Chiefs and Rodgers’ Packers — Kansas City traded Hill this offseason, while Green Bay offloaded Adams — out in the cold and eyeing other positions with their multiple first rounds. Quality pass catchers will be available in Round 2, where the Pack has historically found thembut the league’s former MVPs will touch the pillow not dreaming of Williams, Olave or Wilson anymore.
Running back: Not a single one has been called up in the first round for the first time since 2014.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2022 NFL Draft first-round winners, losers: Jets, Giants nail picks