Well, what a 1st round that was. All the hyperbole about 5 quarterbacks taken in the top 10 turned out to be wrong (I told you so!) and there probably weren’t quite as many trades as people had been expecting – but some of those that were made clearly had a plan behind them. More on that in a minute.
5 picks I liked
- San Francisco 49ers select QB Trey Lance – this is partly out of a feeling of relief for all 49ers fans out there that they didn’t trade away 3 first round picks for Mac Jones, but also because I love Lance’s upside. The ability to make off-script plays as well as throw a very pretty deep ball clearly suggest that if Kyle Shanahan can get him right that he will be a major upgrade over Jimmy G. This is one of those picks that we might just look back on in a few years as being one that defined this franchise.
- Philadelphia Eagles select WR DeVonta Smith – I’m a huge fan of the Slim Reaper and in moving up two spots to go and get their man the Eagles gave up a third round pick to jump ahead of their division rivals the Giants who surely would have taken him if he was there. Surrounding Jalen Hurts with talent and giving him every opportunity to succeed is absolutely the right way for them to have gone here – though I did wonder for a few seconds if they’d gone up for Justin Fields. Speaking of whom…
- Chicago Bears select QB Justin Fields – this team really needed to go and find their quarterback of the future and so I have to applaud them getting aggressive and moving up from 20 to 11 to go and get their guy. Fields was QB2 for me and many others in this draft – he’s a polished passer who has the athletic ability to run the football as well when he needs to. Giving up next year’s 1st to move up felt at the time like a slightly steep price to pay to get to 11 but the more I think about it, the more I realise they had to do it.
- Baltimore Ravens select WR Rashod Bateman – this was always going to be the sweet spot for Bateman and going to a Ravens team that is really lacking in quality at the top of their depth chart at receiver will surely re-energise someone who looked as though his heart was never really in it in 2020. He could have a similar impact for this offense as Justin Jefferson did for the Vikings as a rookie.
- Buffalo Bills select EDGE Gregory Rousseau – this is a great landing spot for a player as talented as Rousseau. Sure he needs some time to grow and develop at the next level but the raw tools and athleticism are all there. He’ll be able to work his way into the rotation and learn from the likes of Jerry Hughes. Again this is such a huge potential upside pick if he turns out, and I believe he will.
5 picks I wasn’t so keen on
- Las Vegas Raiders select OT Alex Leatherwood – what can I say other than Raiders gonna Raider? I’m looking forward to Mike Mayock joining the Two Feet Inbounds meets UKDraft 2022 NFL Draft live stream coverage as our special guest!
- New York Giants select WR Kadarius Toney – this pick tells us the Giants were locked in on the Alabama receivers Smith and Waddle at 11 and that the Eagles did exactly the right thing in trading up to 10 to get the Heisman Trophy winner after the Dolphins had earlier taken Waddle at 6. I can sort of see what they’re thinking – Kenny Golladay taking the top off the defense and Toney working in the space underneath, but that’s going to require a bit of a change in scheme and in the playbook to try and manufacture touches for Toney in the way Florida did.
- Washington Football Team select LB Jamin Davis – the fact Davis is a first rounder at all is a bit of head scratcher for me, as I’ve only seen him really show up in one game. Sure the upside is there and the sideline-to-sideline speed is something that can’t be coached, but with Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah still on the board who has been a productive player for Notre Dame for the last two years I was surprised they passed him up.
- New Orleans Saints select EDGE Payton Turner – as a Falcons fan I love the fact our division rivals used their first round pick on a guy that many had given a 3rd round grade to! As with much of this EDGE class I’m just not convinced – there’s a lot of athletic ability there but not as much production as I’d expect, with only 8.5 sacks in his last 2 seasons against a fairly poor schedule of opponents.
- Baltimore Ravens select EDGE Jayson Oweh – speaking of unproductive EDGE rushers, quite how someone who failed to register a sack in 2020 gets drafted in the first round is beyond me. I get the athleticism and his ability to disrupt the pocket, but if you’re not able to get there in college then what hope have you got in taking the step up to the NFL? The one redeeming feature of this pick is that the Ravens tend to be able to play defense, so if anyone is going to be able to harness that ability and turn him into a productive player then it might just be Baltimore.