The NFL Draft has ended and of course, there are some major surprises. History was set with a record 15 Georgia Bulldogs chosen in the draft. There’s sure to be plenty of future busts, and some serious head scratchers. It’s hard to truly evaluate a draft before we’ve seen rookies take the field and learn what they have and if they can cut it at the NFL level, but for the time being we can look at which teams got the best value in the draft. Here are the 2022 AFC draft grades.
New York Jets: A+
Yes, this is a serious grade. The Jets grabbed three of the best prospects in this draft in the first round alone and possibly had a franchise-altering draft. Cornerback Sauce Gardner (Cincinnati), WR Garrett Wilson (Ohio State), and EDGE Jermaine Johnson (Florida State) are all day one starters. The Jets won the draft.
Miami Dolphins: C
The Fins didn’t have a ton of picks to begin with thanks to the Tyreek Hill and Jaylon Waddle trades. Still, they helped rebuild their defense with EDGE Cameron Goode (California) and LB Channing Tindall (Georgia). They also added offensive depth.
Buffalo Bills: A
I thought the Bills went with the best players available and that’s always attractive in a draft grade. CB Kaiir Elam (Florida) is a solid defensive back and I see huge potential out of RB James Cook (Georgia), the brother of Dalvin with the Minnesota Vikings.
New England Patriots: C-
The Pats were the talk of the draft for the wrong reasons. Drafting OG Cole Strange (Tennessee-Chattanooga) in the first round, when he was a late-second or early third round pick in value, was a head scratcher. New England reached quite a bit when they could’ve taken another player or continued to trade back and grab mid-round picks.
Houston Texans: B+
Not much has gone right for the Houston Texans recently, but they stockpiled picks with the Deshaun Watson trade and turned those into solid selections. Every selection came from a Power 5 NCAA conference and there is a lot of potential star power in this class. CB Derek Stingley (LSU) and OL Kenyon Green (Texas A&M) should be day one starters.
Indianapolis Colts: B
The Colts didn’t have a first-round pick thanks to Carson Wentz, a man no longer on their roster, which seems like a huge mistake. They spent their first three picks on offensive players, showing where they want to improve. I love the value of OT Bernhard Raimann (Central Michigan) in round three.
Jacksonville Jaguars: C
Personally, I didn’t love the first overall selection. EDGE Travon Walker (Georgia) was at no point the consensus number one overall pick and didn’t even get attention that early in the first round until draft week. Grabbing LB Devin Lloyd (Utah) was a great pickup, but the constant trading back was odd.
Tennessee Titans: C-
I am still shocked that they couldn’t work something out with WR A.J. Brown which factors into this grade. Sure, WR Treylon Burks (Arkansas) could be good, but Brown has proven that he’s great. They took QB Malik Willis (Liberty) in the fourth round, but I think the odds that he becomes their guy are slim.
Baltimore Ravens: A+
The Ravens will never be bad at drafting, I am convinced of that. It was a major surprise that WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was traded but getting a first-round pick back was massive. Safety Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame), C Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa), EDGE David Ojabo (Michigan), and CT Travis Jones (Connecticut) will be long-term guys. Brilliant.
Cincinnati Bengals: B-
Cincy knows that adding great defensive backs and pass rushers is pretty much a necessity if you want to win with the big arms in the AFC. Their first three picks were defense and they drafted three defensive backs overall. DB Dax Hill (Michigan) has some growing to do but shows promise.
Cleveland Browns: C
Because of the DeShaun Watson trade, the Browns didn’t draft until the third round which doesn’t make things easy, but there was plenty of quality talent in later rounds of this draft. CB Martin Emerson (Mississippi State) wasn’t a flashy pick for their first overall, but I did like the DT Perrion Winfrey (Oklahoma) pick in the fourth.
Pittsburgh Steelers: C
Quarterback Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh) will define this draft class. He was the only QB taken in the first round, None were chosen in the second round, and it wasn’t until deeper in the third round that the second man to play under center was drafted. Pickett may not be ready in year one, he may not be ready ever. Time will tell. Receiver George Pickens (Georgia) and DE DeMarvin Leal (Texas A&M) were solid picks.
Denver Broncos: B+
Another team with limited picks thanks to their trade for QB Russell Wilson, which is worth it. I thought the Broncos found great value considering the picks they had, and I think TE Greg Dulcich (UCLA) could be a steal.
Los Angeles Chargers: B-
Offensive lineman Zion Johnson (Boston College), their first pick, was all over the draft board but his stock significantly rose weeks before the draft. Safety JT Woods (Baylor) is a total ballhawk from Baylor and RB Isaiah Spiller (Texas A&M) could be a steal. This should be fun to watch.
Kansas City Chiefs: A-
The Chiefs are a team that knows their roster extremely well. They focused on defense and making sure they can defend against all the good quarterbacks in their division – Russell Wilson, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr. I like the way they drafted, even if they didn’t get a flashy wide receiver to replace Tyrek Hill. CB Trent McDuffie (Washington) should be a day one starter.
Las Vegas Raiders: B-
It feels like a sin that the hosts of the draft, in Sin City, didn’t have a selection until pick 90. The Raiders added a ton of offensive firepower as they try to keep up in the West. RB Zamir White (Georgia) will be worth watching. Of course, their biggest offseason acquisition was getting WR Davante Adams from the Packers.