After a wild weekend, the 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone, and there was certainly no shortage of action in the NFC East. Let’s take a look at each team’s draft class and grade how they did.
- Traded Picks 15, 124, 162, and 166 to the Texans for Pick 13.
- Traded Picks 18 and 101 to the Titans for A.J. Brown.
- Traded Pick 154 to the Jaguars for Picks 188 and 198.
- Traded Picks 188 and 237 to the Lions for Pick 181.
- Round 1, Pick 13: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
- Round 2, Pick 51: Cam Jurgens, C, Nebraska
- Round 3, Pick 83: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
- Round 6, Pick 181: Kyron Johnson, LB, Kansas
- Round 6, Pick 198: Grant Calcaterra, TE, SMU
The Good: The A.J. Brown trade was fantastic. Brown is a seamless fit in this offense as a physical, tackle-breaking YAC machine who is friends with Jalen Hurts and still just 24 years old. They paid a reasonable price for him and gave him a market value contract extension at 4 years, $100 million. Simply put, Brown is going to make the Eagles’ lives easier, taking attention away from DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert and giving Hurts a player who can make tough, contested catches on the outside. In my opinion, this was one of the best moves of Howie Roseman’s tenure.
Additionally, the Eagles took calculated risks on Nakobe Dean and Grant Calcaterra. Dean was arguably a top-20 talent in this draft class who fell due to concerns about his shoulder that he refused to get surgery on. Roseman claims that his medicals checked out, and if he is truly able to be a full go this season, this has a chance to perhaps be the biggest steal of the draft, as Dean is a smart, high-energy, athletic linebacker who just flat-out makes plays in both the pass game and run game. Calcaterra is an interesting tight end prospect, as he retired prior to the 2020 season and considered becoming a firefighter, but ultimately decided to try football again. He leaves a lot to be desired as a blocker but is a talented receiver with good size and speed (6’4”, 241 pounds, 4.62 40 yard dash). He is probably already the second best pass-catcher at the tight end position on the Eagles, and could turn out to be great value in the sixth round if he can carve out a consistent role in two-tight end sets.
The Not-As-Good: I know I am in the minority here, but I don’t love the Jordan Davis pick, and I definitely did not love the price they paid to get him. Three mid-round picks in a deep draft class to move up two spots outside of the top 10 is a little reckless, and while Davis is certainly a unique and talented player, there is very little short-term need at the position and he is a massive work-in-progress as a pass-rusher. Is he almost guaranteed to at least contribute as a space eater who can free up defensive ends in the pass game and linebackers in the run game? Probably, but that trait alone does not warrant the thirteenth pick plus the cost to acquire him, in my opinion. I would love to be wrong, and certainly do not think it was a disastrous pick, but as of now I would have preferred Kyle Hamilton or Jermaine Johnson, without the trade-up.
Cam Jurgens falls in a similar boat. He is a good prospect, but does not help a short-term need with Jason Kelce still anchoring the offensive line. I know the Eagles prioritize the trenches, and Jurgens is considered a poor man’s Kelce, but there were better prospects on the board. Overall, though, the Eagles traded up in the first round, traded for A.J. Brown, and they still made a second round pick, a third round pick, and have two firsts in 2023. That is impressive.
- Round 1, Pick 24: Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa
- Round 2, Pick 56: Sam Williams, DE, Ole Miss
- Round 3, Pick 88: Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
- Round 4, Pick 129: Jake Ferguson, TE, Wisconsin
- Round 5, Pick 155: Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota
- Round 5, Pick 167: DaRon Bland, CB, Fresno State
- Round 5, Pick 176: Damone Clark, LB, LSU
- Round 5, Pick 178: John Ridgeway, DT, Arkansas
- Round 6, Pick 193: Devin Harper, LB, Oklahoma State
The Good: Jalen Tolbert was great value in the third round. The Cowboys needed a receiver after losing Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson, and Tolbert is a productive, big-play wideout who ensures the Cowboys still have a nice trio of receivers. I also liked pass-catching tight end Jake Ferguson as insurance for Dalton Schultz in the fourth round, and lottery ticket Damone Clark – a talented linebacker who is out for his rookie season due to surgery – towards the end of Round 5.
The Not-As-Good: The Cowboys definitely needed to bolster the offensive-line pipeline, but Tyler Smith is a project from a smaller program who was a penalty machine last year (16 of them, 12 for holding). He is a good athlete with a high ceiling, but he is probably not an immediate contributor on a team that is cap-strapped and needs to win now. Sam Williams is a talented pass-rusher, but struggles against the run and was arrested for sexual battery in 2020. The Cowboys have never been afraid to gamble on talent with sketchy character, but it’s not like it has exactly done wonders for them in the past. Overall, they filled some needs, but left a little to be desired in terms of other players available, in my view.
NEW YORK GIANTS
- Traded Pick 36 to Jets for Picks 38 and 146.
- Traded Pick 38 to Falcons for Picks 43 and 114.
- Round 1, Pick 5: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
- Round 1, Pick 7: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
- Round 2, Pick 43: Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky
- Round 3, Pick 67: Joshua Ezeudu, G, UNC
- Round 3, Pick 81: Cordale Flott, CB, LSU
- Round 4, Pick 112: Daniel Bellinger, TE, San Diego State
- Round 4, Pick 114: Dane Belton, S, Iowa
- Round 5, Pick 146: Micah McFadden, LB, Indiana
- Round 5, Pick 147: D.J. Davidson, DT, Arizona State
- Round 5, Pick 173: Marcus McKethan, G, UNC
- Round 6, Pick 182: Darrian Beavers, LB, Cincinnati
The Good: The first-round: After nearly a half-decade of Dave Gettleman’s incompetence, the Giants had to nail the first round of this draft, as they had two top-7 picks with a roster that is pretty barren of talent. They absolutely did just that, in my opinion, landing arguably the best pass-rusher and arguably the best offensive linemen in this class in Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal, respectively. In fact, it was not just the players they landed that were great, but the strategy behind it was as well. The top two tackles in the class – Ickey Ekwonu and Neal – were both available at Pick 5. The Giants knew that one of them was guaranteed to be available at Pick 7, so they waited to take one and instead picked up Thibodeaux, an absolutely explosive defensive end who I honestly think has Khalil Mack-type upside. Leaving the first round with both of these players was a job well done by new general manager Joe Schoen.
The Not-As-Good: Almost everything else. I am fine with the second-round trade downs, but the ensuing selections were odd. Wan’Dale Robinson is a small but quick and agile receiver, kind of in the mold of Kadarius Toney. He is a fun player, but I think there were several better options at the position available. Most of their other selections also consisted of taking players way earlier than they were expected to go. From Rounds 3-7, the only player they took who I had heard of prior to the draft was Daniel Bellinger. I am not claiming to be a draft expert, but the draft experts themselves were also a little surprised by a lot of these selections. It feels like they probably drafted for scheme fit rather than best available, which is how you get Jalen Reagor instead of Justin Jefferson. The early rounds are more important, so their grade does not suffer too much, but Schoen is going to have to prove that he is smarter than the draft buffs, or it is going to be a bad look for him early on in his tenure.
- Traded Pick 11 to Saints, for Picks 16, 98, and 120.
- Traded Picks 120 and 189 to Panthers for Picks 144 and 149.
- Round 1, Pick 16: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
- Round 2, Pick 47: Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama
- Round 3, Pick 98: Brian Robinson Jr., RB, Alabama
- Round 4, Pick 113: Percy Butler, S, Louisiana
- Round 5, Pick 144: Sam Howell, QB, UNC
- Round 5, Pick 149: Cole Turner, TE, Nevada
- Round 7, Pick 230: Chris Paul, G, Tulsa
- Round 7, Pick 240: Christian Holmes, CB, Oklahoma State
The Good: I thought Washington’s mid-late rounds were very good. Brian Robinson Jr. is a powerful running back who will be a great complement to Antonio Gibson and pass-catching specialist J.D. McKissic. Sam Howell in Round 5 is fantastic value. Once considered a favorite to be the first overall pick, Howell does not have the most spectacular arm, but he is a productive and smart quarterback with some mobility, and teams have not exactly been able to bank on Carson Wentz in recent years. Cole Turner also made sense as tight end depth after losing Ricky Seals-Jones, and Chris Paul is 323 pounds and ran a 4.89 40 yard dash – an intriguing project in Round 7. I also thought they got nice value on their trade down from 16 to 11.
The Not-As-Good: While the Commanders could definitely use another receiver, Jahan Dotson was an interesting choice, in my opinion. He has phenomenal hands and is a downfield threat, but comes with a small frame without the elite burner speed (4.43 40) to overcome it. I liked Treylon Burks better as a prospect, personally, and they also passed on Chris Olave and Jameson Williams when they traded down. Washington was supposedly so enamored with Dotson that they did not even feel the need to bring him in for a visit. We will see how it turns out. I also thought Phidarian Mathis was a little redundant with what Washington already has along the defensive line, though it does it sound like Da’Ron Payne could be on his way out.
Photo: Joe Vitale/UGA Wire