Which Teams Did The First Round Right And Who Botched It?
The winners and the losers.
I think I need a cigarette and a Gatorade following last nights first round; it was utter chaos and I loved every second of it. Right from the jump the Texans shocked everyone by taking Derek Stingley and that's when all hell broke loose. A lot of teams began to mold their future for the better while others spiraled into a dumpster fire. Here are last nights winners and losers from the first round.
The Giants Land Two Future Stars
As much as it pains me to write this, I have to say that the Giants exceeded expectations and boasted one of the best first rounds. The Giants were consistently in the mix to trade back as they held both the fifth and seventh overall selections, but they stuck to their guns and made two great selections. At number five, the G-Men grabbed Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux who is a raw athletic freak. He possesses elite explosiveness and will be the top pass rusher on the Giants defensive line. I love this pick.
Then at number seven, the Giants got who I believe is the best player in the draft, Alabama tackle Evan Neal. I must have sounded like a lunatic as I watched teams pass on him when I would mutter "But he's 6'7, 351 pounds. He moves so smooth." After six picks, the Giants nabbed the big man and this is what I think is the best pick of the draft. Neal is a day one starter and will lockdown guys like Montez Sweat, Chase Young, and Demarcus Lawrence.
Did The Jets Out Draft The Giants? I Think So
While the Giants had a great draft, the Jets may have overshadowed them. At pick number four they grabbed the lanky shut down corner Sauce Gardner who didn't allow a touchdown his whole career. They'll need his assistance when they play against Tyreek Hill, Gabriel Davis, and Stefon Diggs.
At ten, I thought they may select an edge rusher like Jermaine Johnson or George Karlaftis, but they passed on him and grabbed who I believe is the best receiver in the draft, Garrett Wilson. Wilson caught 70 balls for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns at Ohio State in 2021; finally a worthy weapon for Zach Wilson.
As the draft progressed, Jermaine Johnson continued to slide and the Jets jumped at the first chance to grab him. The Jets sent the 35th, 69th, and 163rd pick to the Titans in exchange for the 26th pick and the 101st pick. Coming back into the first round to take Johnson means that the Jets are all in on bolstering their defense. Johnson is an athletic specimen standing at 6'5, 262 pounds; he made 70 tackles with 12 sacks in 2021 for the Seminoles as well. I have to say it, great job to both New York teams.
Baltimore Makes A Splash
I truly think that the Ravens are the biggest winners of the draft thus far. With the 14th pick they took Kyle Hamilton; a player that I LOVE and wish my Vikings took instead of trading back. Baltimore has solidified one of the top secondaries already with this pick. Hamilton will play strong safety alongside Marcus Williams with Humphrey and Peters at corner. I won't lie, I wasn't too pleased with the Ravens grabbing my favorite player in the draft because I hate the Ravens.
The 6'4 ball hawk is already my pick to win Defensive Rookie of the Year; but the Ravens didn't stop at Hamilton. Baltimore sent wide receiver Hollywood Brown and a 3rd round pick to Arizona in exchange for the 23rd overall pick. With that draft position, they took the best center in the draft, Tyler Linderbaum. Linderbaum is Jason Kelce reincarnated as he pulls and gets to the second level just like him and is a stout pass protector. Baltimore is ready to run the AFC gauntlet and make a run for the playoffs after adding these two ballers.
Dallas Doing Dallas Things
Offensive line was a desperate need for the Dallas Cowboys as their once great offensive line has begun to break down. It was reported early on draft day that the Cowboys were looking to trade up; probably with Zion Johnson or Kenyon Green in mind. They inevitably couldn't find a suitor leaving them to hope and pray one of these maulers fell to them. Spoiler alert, they didn't.
Dallas used the 24th pick to take Tulsa offensive lineman Tyler Smith. While I don't hate Tyler Smiths play, this was just WAY too early to select him especially when you consider Tyler Linderbaum was available and was selected with the very next pick. Smith is extremely raw and accumulated 16 penalties in 2021; part of that is because he fires his hands outside the frame of defenders and leans a lot. Not a huge fan of this pick.
Does Green Bay Hate Aaron Rodgers?
In a receiver loaded draft class, you'd think Green Bay would want to help out their veteran quarterback instead of trotting out Sammy Watkins as their wide receiver one; I guess I was wrong. Green Bay had not one, but two first rounders and used both on Georgia defenders.
At pick 22, the Packers took linebacker Quay Walker which is a major miss on multiple levels. Walker was the first linebacker taken off the board and is in my opinion, the fourth best in the draft; I have him behind Dean, Lloyd, and Muma. Walker struggles changing directions and is very inconsistent, but was made right a lot of the time by Nakobe Dean. This pick just doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you consider George Pickens and Christian Watson are available at receiver; but if they wanted to stick with a linebacker, they could have scooped up Lloyd or Dean.
Then, Green Bay had the 28th pick. Surely they would take a receiver...right? Nope! They drafted defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt which again baffles me. The interior defensive line in Green Bay is one of the better groups on their defense with Kenny Clark, Jarran Reed, and Dean Lowry. Edge is a huge whole on their defense. They had the opportunity to grab Boye Mafe or George Karlaftis who I believe would have been better fits than Wyatt. And still no wide receiver. I do love seeing the Packers absolutely bungle their first round; just gives me more confidence as a Vikings fan.