The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft is in the book and some teams probably would like a do-over on their questionable picks.
The first round of the NFL Draft was absolutely bonkers as blockbuster trades shook up the draft order and left fans with their jaws dropped on Twitter. There were some tremendous values, such as Jermaine Johnson falling to the Jets at 26, but there were also a few headscratchers on night one.
Whether it was reaching for players or overvaluing certain positions in trades, the mistakes made here could be costly in the long run. Let’s break down the five worst picks of the first round, beginning with the Saints’ trade-up for Chris Olave.
5 worst picks of the first round in the 2022 NFL Draft
The position of the day at the draft was wide receiver, where six were selected in the first round and two veterans were traded on Thursday night. Perhaps panicking at the thought that a receiver wouldn’t last until their first pick at 16, New Orleans traded up to No. 11 to snag Ohio State’s Chris Olave, giving up third and fourth-round picks to move up five spots in the draft.
While Olave is a nice player who should complement Michael Thomas nicely, giving up two mid-round picks to secure his services was an overpay. The Saints are operating as if they are still Super Bowl contenders who are a piece away from Super Bowl contention, which isn’t the case since they still haven’t found a long-term answer at quarterback after Drew Brees retired.
There is something to be said for going for it instead of blowing it up to start a rebuild but giving up those assets makes more sense if the move is going to be for a quarterback. Doing it for a wide receiver in a deep class of them doesn’t make sense from a value perspective.
The first surprise of the day came at the top of the draft, where the Jacksonville Jaguars bypassed Aidan Hutchinson to select Travon Walker with the top pick. Experts had prognosticated that Hutchinson was the safe choice since he had a dependable floor, but Walker’s ceiling clearly enticed Jacksonville here.
The scary part of this pick is the utter lack of production that Walker had in college. Walker was certainly a valuable player for the Bulldogs, who won the national championship this season and had five members of their defense go in the first round, but he only delivered 9.5 sacks over the course of his college career.
The Jaguars were in a tough spot since there wasn’t a true game-breaking talent atop the draft, such as Myles Garrett or Nick Bosa, or a quarterback to entice another team to give up a king’s ransom to select him. Taking Hutchinson may not have been the sexiest pick of all time but it would be reasonable to add a sure thing to a defense that needs a pass rusher opposite Josh Allen.
Simply buying into the workouts and your ability to coach up a talented player like Walker makes more sense a bit later in the draft. Taking a flier with the first overall pick doesn’t make a ton of sense, which is par for the course with Jacksonville these days.
A total of eight teams entered the first round with multiple picks, giving them opportunities to add tremendous value to their roster, but not everyone was smart with their selections. The Houston Texans, who have been making questionable decisions for years, made a pair of bad choices with their draft picks tonight.
The first odd move came at No. 3, when the Texans tabbed LSU’s Derek Stingley as their selection. If this pick was made after the 2019 season, it would have made sense since Stingley dominated as a freshman at LSU and helped the Tigers win the national championship.
Foot injuries have hurt Stingley ever since, limiting his impact over the past two seasons, and his game tape has not been as good since that magical 2019 season. The talent is there for Stingley, but he hasn’t been nearly as productive as Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, who went one pick later to the New York Jets at 4.
Picking Stingley over Gardner was a bad call if the Texans felt that cornerback was a need area. Reaching for Stingley at 3 made it worse since most mock drafts had him projected towards the back end of the Top 10, giving Houston an opportunity to trade back and add more assets to a roster that needs essentially everything, but Nick Caserio decided to sit here and pass on more sure things for a big gamble.
The Lions did a good job with their first pick of the night, turning their card in about five seconds after Jacksonville took Walker to secure Hutchinson’s services for their defensive line. What Detroit did with their second pick, however, was highly questionable.
That pick was originally slated for No. 32, which came to them from the Los Angeles Rams in the Matthew Stafford trade, but the Lions used it to move all the way to No. 12 in a deal with the Minnesota Vikings. That trade, which also saw Detroit part with its third-round pick while dropping 12 spots in the second round, was made to ensure they got their hands on Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams.
In terms of talent, Williams is a worthy selection since he was arguably the best receiver in this class prior to tearing his ACL at the end of the season. The issue here is that Detroit has a ton of needs and parted with two premium picks to take a wide receiver who will miss significant time as a rookie rehabbing from the ACL injury.
A big trade like that makes more sense if you are a team like Kansas City, which can afford to wait on a guy like Williams to get healthy, or if you are jumping that high to land your franchise quarterback. Detroit doesn’t fit either category, showcasing why they haven’t been able to build a consistent winner thanks to questionable decisions like this one.
Before we get into the problems with this selection, we have to acknowledge that Caserio did a good job securing extra assets for a two-spot drop in the first round. Houston received a fourth-round pick and two fifth-rounders from the Philadelphia Eagles, who moved up to secure Jordan Davis, and those extra picks are valuable in a draft loaded with middle-round value.
The problem is that the Texans used No. 15 to select a guard, Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green, who would have been available at least 10 picks later. Green is a solid player who should be an impact starter for Houston from Day 1 but the selection is yet another sign that the Texans simply don’t understand the value of their draft pick assets.
If the offensive line was a big issue for Houston, they could have taken offensive tackle Trevor Penning instead, giving them a potential starter at right tackle that is more valuable than a guard. The Texans also could have tried to trade down again to add even more picks to their arsenal by taking advantage of the wide receiver run, which was a big factor in many of the first-round record nine trades in this draft.
Another trade would have given the Texans more picks to add impact players and they could have still landed Green in the 20s. Simply sitting at 15 and taking Green made little sense and demonstrates why Houston has a lot of issues going forward.