The frenzy that is the NFL draft is now done. Though it won’t yield a championship, even the draft is a competition. With that being said, somebody has to win and someone had to lose, right? Here are the 2022 winners and losers after the draft’s fallout.
Winner: Matt Rhule
Rhule may honestly have one of the hottest seats in the NFL but the draft may change that. Not only will he get last year’s first-round pick Jaycee Horn back healthy, but he will also have new faces added to bolster his team.
The Panthers drafted offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu with the sixth overall pick and also landed quarterback Matt Corral in the third round, who brings athleticism and accuracy along with him (he dropped considerably due to problems with alcohol depression).
Defensively they got stronger, adding Amare Barno, who is the most athletic edge rusher in the draft, and linebacker Brandon Smith should make this defense a formidable force.
The front office gave Matt Rhule a literal helping hand and his job should be a little easier now.
Loser: Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens Offense
The Ravens may or may not have a disdain for their quarterback Lamar Jackson.
The Baltimore franchise has not been known for taking pass catchers in the first round but even if, this was the year to do so. Jackson has had no one consistently to throw to and the Ravens just traded away wide receiver Marquise Brown.
Yes, wide receiver Rashod Bateman was drafted last year but outside of him, Jackson has no one except for his favorite target, Mark Andrews, who will only get you so far. Part of the issue with the Ravens offense is they can rely too much on Jackson’s legs. If they want him to succeed, they will need to find another receiver and soon.
Winner: Tennessee Titans
Hear me out…
Yes the Titans traded away Pro Bowl receiver AJ Brown but look at what they got for him. Brown turned into:
R1:P18 – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
R2:P35 – Andrew McCreary, CB, Auburn
R3:P69 – Nicholas Petit-Frere, Tackle, Ohio State
R3:P86 – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Not only did Tennessee get a taller, AJ Brown-like clone in Burks, they also filled their roster needs. Getting what may be the steal of the draft in quarterback Malik Willis was a great consolation prize. They also found a viable backup for Derrick Henry in Hassan Haskins.
The unsung part of the draft is the undrafted free agents, and the Titans got a haul. Getting two interior defensive lineman in Jayden Peevy and Haskell Garrett who were both day two prospects was big for them and could bolster their strength in their front seven.
Loser: Mitch Trubisky
The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Mitch Trubisky, which seemed like his break back into being a NFL starter. Then the Steelers drafted Kenny Pickett out of Pitt in the first round, ultimately putting undue pressure on the former top-five pick.
Pittsburgh loaded the offense up and clearly see Pickett as their guy. Mitch could be holding a clipboard sooner rather than later.
Winner: Robert Saleh and The New York Jets
I don’t think there has been a time in the NFL’s history where we can say a team could make the playoffs off the muscle of their draft class alone!
Saleh drafted major pieces to bolster his defense like cornerback Sauce Gardner, edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II and defensive lineman Michael Clemons. He also bolstered his offense with wide receiver Garrett Wilson, running back Breece Hall and tight end Jeremy Ruckert. With Zach Wilson entering his second season and addition of this strong draft, the Jets could make a Cincinnati-level leap in 2022-23.
Loser: Atlanta Falcons Front Office
For arguably the second year in a row, the Falcons front office have whiffed on one of the off-season’s biggest stages. Yes, they got Kyle Pitts last year as a bonafide stud and this year that could be QB Desmond Ridder. The problem is out of seven picks, the Falcons didn’t really get any impact players.
The Falcons reached on wide receiver Drake London with players like offensive lineman Charles Cross, wide receiver Chris Olave, edge rushers George Karlaftis and Jermaine Johnson II still on the board. This was a lack luster showing for them and Atlanta may need to make a change soon.