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2022 NFL Draft: Grading the First-Round Picks

Jermaine Johnson II, New York Jets, 2022 NFL Draft

The New York Jets traded back into the first round to grab Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson, a player some considered a top-10 prospect, at No. 26 after already drafting cornerback Ahmad Gardner (No. 4) and wide receiver Garrett Wilson (No. 10)

All of the picks are in and the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft is officially in the books. There are still hundreds of selections still to go but the oversized value teams get from those first 32 picks mean just a tad bit more given the impact some of the players can have on their franchise.

Which teams did the best when they were on the clock? Which reached for somebody they could have gotten later and lost value? Which whiffed completely and will have fans questioning what the front office is doing? Here's a look at how each team did with their first-round pick and why it will — or won't — work out down the road.

2022 NFL Draft: First-Round Grades

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia

In the end, Trent Baalke won out and traits trumped production in landing the talented pass rusher from the national champs. There's risk in this selection naturally, but the upside is landing a consistent double-digit sack artist who puts fear in opposing offensive coordinators for the next decade. Josh Allen has to be thrilled about finding a running mate if nothing else.

Grade: A-

Related: Edge Rushers in High Demand in the 2022 NFL Draft

2. Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan

Anytime you land the consensus top player in the draft at a position of need, you're sitting pretty after night one. The Lions need to chase around Aaron Rodgers, Justin Fields and a surprisingly mobile Kirk Cousins six times a year and Hutchinson will help ensure they don't have five seconds to throw each snap.

Grade: A

3. Houston Texans: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

If healthy, this is a terrific pick because Stingley is the definition of a lockdown corner. But this is the NFL and an NFL with a 17-game schedule, so that's not guaranteed at all. That said, the franchise needs talent in the worst way and hitting on this selection far outweighs the potential bust factor.

Grade: B+

4. New York Jets: Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

The kid hasn't had a TD thrown on him in forever and, while that will quickly change in the pros, this is a high-floor player who can step in right away and boost one of the worst secondaries in the league last year. And really, bonus points for the potential back page covers the franchise is bound to pick up with this Big Apple + Sauce combination.

Grade: A

5. New York Giants: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon

Sure Thibodeaux isn't a prospect for every defense but he does add a ton of versatility for the G-Men in a division that requires you to come up with big stops on third down. The ceiling is as high as the top pick in the draft even if the floor is also a little lower.

Grade: A-

6. Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State

Ickey was very much in play to go No. 1 overall and not only does he provide tremendous value as the sixth pick, but also boosts a team that must get additional pieces in place before they turn their attention to fixing the QB position.

Grade: A+

7. New York Giants: Evan Neal, OL, Alabama

A quality option to boost that line for Daniel Jones in his make-or-break season, the transition to playing right tackle should be easier for Neal than just about everybody considering how natural he looked playing there with the Tide. When in doubt, drafting a physical specimen from a program as technically sound as Bama has been up front isn't a bad route to go for a rookie GM/HC combination in their first draft.

Grade: A-

8. Atlanta Falcons: Drake London, WR, USC

The start of the wideout run really served to highlight just how much work Atlanta's roster needs over the course of the next six rounds and coming years. London can team up with Kyle Pitts to form a heck of a jump-ball tandem in the red zone but actually getting into that area of the field could prove more challenging than expected.

Grade: B+

Related: 4 Potential High 2022 NFL Draft Picks That Could End Up As Busts

9. Seattle Seahawks: Charles Cross, OL, Mississippi State

It was a bit curious that one of the most run-oriented teams in the league would nab the natural pass blocker who needs to improve in just that area. Still, it's not often the Seahawks wind up picking in the top 10 and selecting the last elite tackle left in the draft isn't something to thumb your nose at.

Grade: B

10. New York Jets: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

How many times are you going to hear some announcer excitedly shout “Wilson to Wilson!” A lot. The most complete receiver in the draft will fill a massive need and help many fans forget about the potential trade for Deebo Samuel as soon as he makes a spectacular grab along the sidelines.

Grade: A

Related: Route-Runners on the Rise in the 2022 NFL Draft

11. New Orleans Saints: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

If you add it all up, the Saints traded two third-round picks, a fourth-rounder and a future first to move up several spots for this pick. That's a lot of capital for a receiver when there's value at the position on Day 2. Olave is silky smooth and provides a big boost to the offense alongside Michael Thomas but one can't overlook the fact that it's still a little rich.

Grade: B-

12. Detroit Lions: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Detroit needs playmakers in the worst way and Williams is the type that has a real shot at developing into a true No. 1 on the outside. He's tough as can be and, while it's a bit of a risk moving up to take a wideout coming off a knee injury, that type of recovery is a science now and shouldn't be cause for concern for Lions fans excited about their receiving corps.

Grade: A-

13. Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

Philly's front office turned three first-rounders into the best athletic defensive tackle in years, a premier No. 1 wideout and a future first next year that can help if they need to move onto a new QB. That's some good work even if they did end up paying A.J. Brown a ton of cash.

Grade: A+

14. Baltimore Ravens: Kyle Hamilton, DB, Notre Dame

How does this keep happening? How do the Ravens consistently stick around and pick up phenomenal college players who have the look of 15-year pros? Hamilton is just the latest line of tremendous value first-round picks for Baltimore.

Grade: A+

15. Houston Texans: Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

A better selection at 15 than 13, Green helps protect Davis Mills and has the versatility of playing pretty much everywhere. A bit high if he's exclusively a guard but the Aggie heading down Highway 6 very much could be a dependable starter for many, many years to come.

Grade: B+

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16. Washington Commanders: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

Did the team need another weapon? Sure. Does Dotson bring a field-stretching threat and great hands? Sure. Is this still a tad high to nab him when other needs were far more pressing? Sure.

Grade: B

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College

No surprise to see the front office go in on protecting Justin Herbert in back-to-back years. Johnson figures to start right away as a result but is best suited to playing on the interior even if he might get first crack at right tackle. A high floor, plug-and-play starter is solid, even if the positional value isn't as good as it potentially could have been.

Grade: B+

18. Tennessee Titans: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Looking at the full context, this is basically the franchise replacing A.J. Brown with Burks like-for-like (big-bodied slot receiver who can rack up yards after the catch) while not getting into salary cap issues by putting up the money for Brown's new contract. A fairly savvy move even with the first-rounder likely taking a while to replace the departed star completely.

Grade: A

19. New Orleans Saints: Trevor Penning, OL, Northern Iowa

Terron who? Penning was a perfect replacement for the departed left tackle and makes so much sense for a Saints team that is not looking to take a step back despite coaching and roster turnover.

Grade: A

Related: 5 Intriguing 2022 NFL Draft Prospects From the FCS Ranks

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt

He fits the mold of a Steelers QB to a T and he's plenty familiar with playing at Heinz Field. Ignore the hand size talk, this is the lone signal-caller in the draft class ready to play in the first half of the season and capable of elevating a team that was in large part a halfway decent QB away.

Grade: B

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

Talk about moving up slightly to fill a massive need, McDuffie is the type that can help the Chiefs keep pace in the increasingly loaded AFC. He'll be an upgrade immediately in the secondary and could look like a real gem in just a few years' time.

Grade: A

22. Green Bay Packers: Quay Walker, LB, Georgia

It's been a while since the Pack have had a linebacker in the top tier for athleticism but that will change after the addition of Walker. He's a nice fit alongside De'Vondre Campbell and, while still a bit raw, provides an immediate pass rusher who is capable of developing into an All-Pro.

Grade: A-

23. Buffalo Bills: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

Elam can step in right away opposite Tre'Davious White and really fits the mold of the Bills' aggressive defense. He'll give up a few scores or flags at times but will more than make up for it with his ability to get hands on the ball or come up to make a big tackle.

Grade: A

24. Dallas Cowboys: Tyler Smith, OL, Tulsa

Mammoth tackle certainly fills a need for the Cowboys' rebuild in the trenches but he's just raw enough to hold back his impact early on as a rookie. The physical traits and tools are there to supplant another Smith in the building at left tackle eventually but there will be a slight learning curve the team will need to live with first.

Grade: B-

25. Baltimore Ravens: Tyler Linderbaum, OL, Iowa

See pick No. 14 and how this franchise keeps landing multi-year starters with ease. GM Eric DeCosta really makes this look easy when it's certainly not.

Grade: A-

26. New York Jets: Jermaine Johnson II, Edge, Florida State

Joe Douglas might have an extra pep in his step tomorrow in the office because his draft class is already stellar in landing impact players at three huge positions of need. Johnson has a super-high floor but also is the type that can come in right away as a rotational piece that turns into a Pro Bowl-caliber starter. Always a job well done when you get a top-10 talent near the bottom of the first round.

Grade: A

27. Jacksonville Jaguars: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

The Jags landed two transformational pieces for their defense and in terms of straight draft value, may have gotten more out of this trade up to land Lloyd than they did with the top pick. The Utes star has a tremendous future ahead of him and could be a key locker-room leader even as a rookie.

Grade: A

28. Green Bay Packers: Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia

Safe to say the Packers' front office watched a lot of the national champions. Wyatt might be better suited to playing a ton of snaps early on than his teammate selected a few picks earlier and could be a real disruptor in the middle of the field. His upside is such that it wouldn't be a surprise if he emerged as the top interior guy out of this draft.

Grade: A

29. New England Patriots: Cole Strange, OL, Chattanooga

After a few years of moving in the right direction, the Pats said to hell with draft pick value and went ahead and nabbed a player many around the league thought would be there late on Day 2 if not pegged for Day 3. Bill Belichick's on-field genius earns him too much of the benefit of the doubt when it comes to drafting a guard like this in the first round, team needs and draft board be damned.

Grade: C-

30. Kansas City Chiefs: George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue

Another need filled, another good value. The Boilermaker doesn't quite have the runway other athletic pass rushers do in this draft but his motor will keep him in the good graces of Steve Spagnuolo for a long time and allow for the team to get better now and be better positioned for the future.

Grade: A

31. Cincinnati Bengals: Daxton Hill, DB, Michigan

Everybody pegged the Bengals as upgrading the secondary in the draft and they did so in a big way with Hill. He should move all around the formation early in his career while giving the team plenty of options to help close that gap of what they need to do to get back to the Super Bowl and emerge victorious the next time around.

Grade: A-

32. Minnesota Vikings: Lewis Cine, DB, Georgia

Cine is a quality complement for Harrison Smith who can start right away in the secondary that needs some additional playmakers. It's also good value in moving down so much too given how much more the new regime has to do in getting the Vikings back to the playoffs.

Grade: B+

— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.