The NFL Draft took place at the end of April, and football fans across the country have been participating in their yearly tradition of grading their team’s picks. From first round talents, to Mr. Irrelevant, to draft day trades, it’s only right to go over the winners and losers of this year’s NFL draft.
New York Jets: The Best
The Jets went into day one with the 4th and 10th overall picks. While it is hard to mess up two first round picks, the Jets selected two of the best players at positions they desperately needed to fill. With the 4th pick, the Jets took Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB out of Cincinnati. Gardner was a lockdown corner in his four years of college, and never surrendered a single touchdown. Given that Pro Football Focus ranked the Jets as the second worst secondary in the NFL during the 2021 season, a player like Sauce is bound to turn that around.
The Jets also added offensive weapons for their young quarterback, Zack Wilson, in this year's draft. They took Garret Wilson, WR from Ohio State with the 10th pick and Breece Hall, RB from Iowa State with the 36th pick. With a young, struggling quarterback under center, and a developing offensive line, the last step in putting together a dominant offense is adding dynamic playmakers, which the Jets definitely got with Wilson and Hall.
The Jets also shocked the world by trading with Tennessee into the first round to acquire their third first round pick. With that pick they selected Jermaine Johnson II, an Edge from Florida State. Johnson was a top 15 talent that somehow slipped into the 20s. He was a dominant force for the Seminoles, racking up 17.5 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks, and he’ll likely continue his dominance in the NFL.
Baltimore Ravens: The Best
The Ravens certainly had a busy draft night. Baltimore made two first round trades, and selected players that will help their 2022 campaign. They chose Kyle Hamilton with the 14th overall pick and Tyler Linderbaum with the 25th overall pick. Kyle Hamilton was supposed to be selected in the top 10, but luckily for the Ravens, the Notre Dame safety fell right into their lap. Hamilton posted 34 tackles and 3 interceptions in just 7 games for the Fighting Irish in 2021 and has the athleticism and football IQ to continue playing well at the next level. As for Tyler Linderbaum, the Iowa offensive lineman shows a lot of promise, bringing in several collegiate honors including the Rimington Award, which commemorates the best center in college football.
Philadelphia Eagles: The Best
Philadelphia also had a tremendous draft weekend. The Eagles certainly filled all of their biggest holes, both through trades and draft picks. On the defensive side of things, Philly traded up to the 13th overall pick to select Jordan Davis, a defensive tackle from Georgia. At 6’6 350 pounds, Davis uses his enormous size to dominate as a defensive tackle, and with size like that, he’ll certainly continue those ways at the professional level.
The Eagles also redeemed their lackluster wide receiver draft history by trading for one of the league's best wideouts in AJ Brown. After several drafts where they took guys like Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson, and JJ Arcega Whiteside over DK Metcalf, Philadelphia decided to stop the cycle by trading their pick that likely would have been a WR to Tennessee for Brown. Giving Jalen Hurts a Pro Bowl-level wideout should bolster their offense and potentially send them into the playoffs.
New England Patriots: The Worst
The Patriots raised a lot of eyebrows in this year's draft, namely their first round and fourth round picks. While New England did fix a new and unfortunate hole at cornerback by replacing JC Jackson with Marcus Jones and Jack Jones, they failed to address other, bigger needs. Instead, New England reached so much for first round pick Cole Strange (OL, Chattanooga) that it sparked laughter from Rams head coach Sean McVay. The Pats also chose Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe in the fourth round, after drafting current quarterback Mac Jones in the first round of last year’s draft.
Green Bay Packers: The Worst
After another offseason of drama and madness, you would think that the Packers finally came to their senses and decided to help their franchise quarterback and back-to-back league MVP, Aaron Rodgers. But you would be wrong. After trading away arguably the best WR in the NFL, Davante Adams, this offseason, the Packers desperately needed to please their quarterback. However, the Packers failed to draft a receiver in the first round again. Worse, several teams, including their division rival Detroit Lions, traded up to take a receiver, and the Packers certainly had the ability to do so as well. While they did take a WR in the second round, a first-round WR talent is likely the only way that Rodgers will immediately gain the trust of his new WR1.