The 2022 NFL Draft came and went, and it gave us everything we had hoped for and more.
From Thursday, April 28 to Saturday, April 30, 262 players were selected to join the NFL. Let's wrap up an action-packed week by identifying the steals of the draft.
You can find our full draft recap by clicking here.
Instead of having to trade up to improve that situation, the Seahawks stayed put at No. 9 overall and took Charles Cross — PFF’s No. 1 tackle prospect. The Mississippi State product improved by leaps and bounds this past season, putting up an 84.9 PFF grade after struggling to a mark of 60.7 in 2020. After allowing 44 pressures in 2020, he gave up just 16 last season despite playing 145 more pass-blocking snaps.
Cross has elite tools, balance and punch-timing. And for the crowd that will be bearish on his run-blocking because he played in Mike Leach’s Air Raid system, he has shown more than enough for us to be confident in his ability to hold up in Seattle’s run offense. He earned an 87.2 run-blocking grade this past season, one of the best marks in the class.
Hamilton fell into Baltimore's lap at 14th overall, most likely because his slower-than-expected 40-yard dash tanked his stock.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder boasts supreme length and fantastic eyes in coverage, and he is still one of the top explosive athletes in the class. He totaled 22 combined pass breakups and interceptions in his three-year college career, and only five Power Five safeties have recorded more than 15 over that span.
Hamilton was a true playmaker at Notre Dame and should be the same in the NFL. And now he joins a Ravens secondary that recently added safety Marcus Williams and already has Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters.
The AFC North isn’t going to like this draft steal.
This is just a “semi-steal,” as Kansas City traded up to No. 21 overall to get him, but they still took the opportunity to grab arguably a top-10 prospect in the back half of Round 1.
McDuffie had one of the best careers PFF College has ever graded. He finished as one of two Power Five cornerbacks in the PFF College era to produce an 80.0-plus PFF grade as a true freshman, sophomore and junior.
The Washington product is on the smaller end at 5-foot-11, 193-pounds with sub-30-inch arms, but his awareness, all-around athleticism and physicality are undoubtedly up to snuff. While he played solely outside in his three years as a Husky, he has the traits to be a versatile chess piece for Kansas City, and that's exactly what they will want him to be.
Linderbaum is one of the best prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft class, but he slid on Day 1 due to positional value and a league-wide lack of need.
The Iowa product was a top-five-graded center his first year at the position in 2019, the highest-graded center in the nation in 2020 and the highest-graded center in PFF College history in 2021. The problem is that Baltimore is the exact opposite spot to fit his skill set: He’s not going to be able to shine out in space nearly as much as he did in his wide-zone system in college, and he will be asked to win by setting the tone at the line of scrimmage.
Linderbaum plays a lot bigger than his size suggests, but there’s no denying that the fit isn’t likely to maximize his abilities fully. This is a steal but a questionable fit.
Tyler Linderbaum career at Iowa (@PFF):
169 gap scheme snaps (70.4 grade)
765 zone snaps (96.3 grade)
Baltimore's run game is predicated on gap scheme (~70% of run plays)… Interesting fit.
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) April 29, 2022
Karlaftis was rumored to be sliding down boards, and one of the best teams in the NFL benefitted from it.
The Chiefs had a glaring need on the edge after ranking 27th in pass-rush grade at the position for the 2021 season. Karlaftis — who racked up 117 pressures in 27 career games at Purdue — should help improve that.
The former Purdue Boilermaker can work speed-to-power as well as anyone in the class. He is a brute force with an explosive get-off and advanced hand usage that helped him to a 90.6 pass-rush grade for the 2021 season despite being schemed away from constantly.
Karlaftis brings a killer mindset to the edge and is a favorable projection to the next level.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Trading for WR A.J. BROWN
Given the slate of pass-catchers on the board at No. 18 and the fact that Brown has consistently been one of the league’s most productive wide receivers, this is a huge value for Philly. Since entering the league in 2019, Brown ranks 13th among wide receivers in PFF Wins Above Replacement (WAR), fourth in PFF receiving grade and third in yards per route run.
The other top picks of Round 1
The Texans could have gone in several directions with the No. 3 overall pick. In the end, they made the right decision by taking LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., who is one of the top three prospects in the entire class.
As is widely known at this point, the former Tiger produced the best true freshman season of the PFF College era in 2019 when he posted a 91.7 PFF grade, recording 21 combined interceptions and pass breakups and allowing a 38% catch rate when targeted.
Injuries derailed the last couple of years, but the narrative that “Stingley got worse” when able to play in that timeframe just isn’t true — as PFF’s Seth Galina broke down last month. Stingley has rare tools and is bound to change Houston’s secondary.
New head coach Lovie Smith is known for his dedication to Cover 2, but Stingley will be tasked with plenty of man and zone opportunities — and he has the scheme-versatile skill set to perform strongly. In fact, Stingley is the only Power Five cornerback in this draft class who earned an 80.0-plus career grade in man and zone coverage.
Like Houston, the Jets could have gone in a few different directions, from offensive lineman to edge defender Jermaine Johnson II (who they still picked later on after trading back into Round 1). They ultimately opted to take cornerback Sauce Gardner, who will fit perfectly into a Robert Saleh defense that will put him at the line of scrimmage and let him do what he does best.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder has played over 100 more snaps in press coverage than anyone else in the FBS since 2019, and he leads the entire group in coverage grade on those reps. He has big-time arm length at 33.5 inches and brings the alpha mentality to the line.
New York Giants: Edge KAYVON THIBODEAUX and T EVAN NEAL
It would have been hard for general manager Joe Schoen to misstep at No. 5 and No. 7 overall, but credit is still due for the decision to draft two high-quality players in Thibodeaux and Neal — two players who were once prime candidates to be the first overall pick.
Thibodeaux is fresh off a 91.5 pass-rush grade in 2021 and was a top-three prospect overall on my draft board. Meanwhile, Neal will fill a big void at right tackle, which is where he started for Alabama in 2020 and earned an 83.7 PFF grade before kicking over to left tackle in 2021. The 6-foot-8, 337-pounder posted the lowest pressure rate allowed among all SEC tackles of the PFF College era.
Thibodeaux and Neal are two players who have a physical profile that is “built in a lab” kind of special.
Los Angeles drafted Johnson right where he deserved to come off the board, and he is an exceptional fit to round out the Chargers' offensive line. He will plug in at right guard for Justin Herbert’s pass-protecting unit, while 2021 starter Matt Feiler will slide over to right tackle where he has previous experience.
Johnson is the model of consistency. He allowed zero pressures in over half of his games played for Boston College in 2021, produced just one penalty on 777 snaps and had no poorly graded outings below 60.0. He screams “high floor, safe pick” and could help make the Chargers offensive line one of the league’s best alongside Rashawn Slater and Corey Linsley.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS: CB ANDREW BOOTH JR. (42ND OVERALL)
Booth was widely thought of as a first-round prospect but fell to Round 2 because of medical concerns. While there’s an argument that this should negate this being a steal, this is still very good value for Minnesota — especially considering that Booth was the seventh corner off the board.
The Clemson product has a scheme-versatile skill set that the Vikings desperately needed in their corner room. While the 21-year-old doesn’t quite have the lockdown numbers as some of the other top corner prospects in this class — he allowed 329 yards across 288 coverage snaps in 2021 — he made up for it down the stretch last season by combining for five interceptions and pass breakups in his final three starts.
He has exceptional feet and receiver-esque ball skills, and he delivered some of the best highlight-reel plays on the ball throughout his time at Clemson.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: WR SKYY MOORE (54TH OVERALL)
PFF had Moore as a first-round prospect, yet he landed in the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs at 54th overall. The Western Michigan product was the highest-graded wide receiver of the 2021 college football season and will bring an NFL-ready skill set to Kansas City.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound receiver is on the smaller end, but he possesses sure-fire hands, strong route-running ability and an advanced release package. Moore is also tough as nails over the middle of the field and after the catch, as his FBS-leading 26 broken tackles can attest.
Despite his smaller stature, Moore had no issue handling press coverage on the outside, ranking top-five in yards per route run on those reps last season at 3.58.
The cherry on top is his strong hands: The Western Michigan pass-catcher checked in with the largest hands of anyone at the combine (10.25 inches) and dropped just three of his 125 targets in 2021 while catching eight of his 13 contested opportunities.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: EDGE DRAKE JACKSON (61ST OVERALL)
San Francisco got a promising developmental pass-rusher with Drake Jackson much later than any team should have.
Jackson may lack a power element and still is raw as a pass-rusher, but there’s no denying the USC edge defender's ceiling. He has the explosiveness, agility and flexibility that coaches dream of having on the edge. And the fact that he showed some growth in 2021 should be encouraging.
Jackson went from a 66.6 pass-rush grade in 2020 to 88.3 in 2021.
Really like USC's Drake Jackson as a Day 2 developmental edge
long, explosive with great bend & ankle flexion. can get so damn low and reduce his hitting surface. showed some growth in 2021, but still a raw toolsy player missing that power element pic.twitter.com/f8JdlUBSEC
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) April 6, 2022
DENVER BRONCOS: EDGE NIK BONITTO (64TH OVERALL)
Denver beefed up its pass-rush in free agency with Randy Gregory, and the unit got another jolt in Round 2 of the draft with Oklahoma edge defender Nik Bonitto.
The 6-foot-3, 248-pound edge defender was one of the nation's most productive pass-rushers over the last couple of years, and he is a high-level athlete. Since 2020, Bonitto ranks first among all FBS edge defenders in pass-rush grade (94.6), pass-rush win rate (27.8%) and pressure rate (22.2%). He may serve as a designated pass-rusher to start, but he can provide value in that role.
ATLANTA FALCONS: QB DESMOND RIDDER (74TH OVERALL)
Ridder stopped the quarterback slide not too long into Round 3. While he isn't an elite prospect, the former Bearcat is a promising prospect widely thought of as a potential first-round pick. Yet, the Falcons landed him 74th overall after obtaining wide receiver Drake London, edge defender Arnold Ebiketie and off-ball linebacker Troy Andersen.
Ridder is the most pro-ready quarterback in this draft. Many will argue he has no singular trait to hang his hat on, but there’s an argument that his processing ability qualifies, as he’s a natural at reading defenses and making the correct decision.
Ridder earned a 90.7 PFF grade last season while leading the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff. He has straight-line speed to add value in the designed run game, as well.
The Cincinnati product's accuracy isn’t elite, but it’s also nowhere near as bad as many make it out to be. Per PFF’s ball-location data, Ridder improved his accurate-pass rate by six percentage points from 2020 to 2021. His “perfectly placed” pass rate also jumped from 8.5% to 23.3%. On 10-plus-yard throws, Ridder ranked ninth in the country in accurate-pass rate and fourth in perfectly placed pass rate.
BALTIMORE RAVENS: DI TRAVIS JONES (76TH OVERALL)
The UConn product has brute strength that helped him become an unblockable force in all three of his seasons at UConn and the Senior Bowl. Jones is coming off a top-five overall grade among interior defensive linemen (87.6). During Senior Bowl practice, the 6-foot-4, 326-pound interior defender earned a 92.2 pass-rush grade while leading the position in pass-rush win rate (42.5%).
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: T BERNHARD RAIMANN (77TH OVERALL)
Despite his standing as a first-round prospect on PFF’s big board, Raimann was always expected to be a Day 2 pick. And the Colts managed to get him even later than many thought.
While it may take some time for him to adjust to the NFL, Raimann is an incredibly promising prospect. He grew up in Austria, came to the USA as a foreign exchange student, and secured a scholarship at Central Michigan after one year of high school football. He started his career at tight end for two seasons before switching to tackle the past two seasons and notably earned PFF MAC Offensive Player of the Year honors for his performance in 2021.
Measuring in at 6-foot-7 and 305 pounds, Raimann earned a 94.3 PFF grade last season, putting up a 93.3 run-block grade and an 88.7 pass-block grade to boot. He was virtually flawless in pass protection over his last six games, too, with zero pressures allowed in that span.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: LB NAKOBE DEAN (83RD OVERALL)
Dean's draft stock has been in a tailspin since Thursday night, and it has nothing to do with his exceptional tape at Georgia. A source told PFF’s Austin Gayle that the off-ball linebacker reportedly put off shoulder surgery this past year, causing significant damage. On top of that, Dean has a pec and knee issue that raised red flags to NFL teams.
Assuming he’s able to regain full health — whether it be with or without a redshirt year — this could end up being the biggest steal of the entire draft.
Dean is one of the most instinctive players to come out of college in recent memory. And, in my opinion, he was the most important player in Georgia’s historically good defense this past year. Even head coach Kirby Smart called him the “Commander-in-Chief” of that group.
another layer to this play is that you can see Dean command the front to stem (i.e. change the front)
UGA did this often, which added to Dean's job, but he carried out his role perfectly. An example of why Kirby called Dean "Commander-in-Chief." He was the MVP of that defense https://t.co/BQ4zIV2JDM
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) March 29, 2022
Last season, Dean product became the only off-ball linebacker in the PFF College era to earn a 90.0-plus single-season PFF grade in coverage and as a pass-rusher. The 5-foot-11, 229-pound off-ball linebacker racked up 31 pressures and 15 passing stops in 2021, top-10 marks among Power Five linebackers. He also ranked sixth in the Power Five in pass-rush win rate (22.3%), allowed a first down at the lowest rate among linebackers (13.5%) and didn’t surrender a single touchdown.
TENNESSEE TITANS: QB MALIK WILLIS (86TH OVERALL)
Considering his potential, there’s no reason for Willis to have gone in Round 3. Quarterback is the most valuable position in the game, and a prospect with the arm talent and dynamic rushing ability Willis has should have gone much earlier than 86th overall.
First things first, don’t expect Willis to come in and pry the starting job away from Ryan Tannehill. With the Liberty quarterback’s issues — most notably his decision-making, mechanics and pocket presence — he’s likely to be a multi-year project. All that said, Willis does have a high upside if he can improve on his flaws because of his elite physical tools — tools that helped Willis to the highest big-time throw rate and rushing grade in the FBS last season.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: LB LEO CHENAL (103RD OVERALL)
I’ve listed 16 total steals from the first three rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft, and the Chiefs own a quarter of them.
Chenal entered draft day as one of the more underrated prospects, but almost sliding out of Day 2 was a shock the Chiefs took advantage of.
Chenal is an explosive athlete who attacks downhill with a vengeance. A season ago, the former Wisconsin Badger actually ranked second among the nation's linebackers in pass-rush grade and first at the position in run-defense grade. His play in coverage is still a work in progress, but defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will have no issue taking advantage of his blitzing prowess.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS: WR CALVIN AUSTIN III (138TH OVERALL)
Austin has legit track speed and quickness. His athleticism, top-tier route-running and excellent release package help him overcome his diminutive stature.
The Memphis product may stand at 5-foot-7, and he may weigh 173 pounds with 30.6-inch arms, but that didn't stop him from producing at a high level as an outside receiver in 2021 — he broke 14 tackles on 74 receptions, generating an 85.2 receiving grade and 2.99 yards per route run.
Austin earned the highest receiving grade among qualifying wide receivers at Senior Bowl practice and generated multiple steps of separation on over half of his targets against single coverage, good for the highest rate of such plays among all wide receivers in attendance.
GREEN BAY PACKERS: T ZACH TOM (140TH OVERALL)
Tom was quietly one of the best pass-protectors in college football last season. The Wake Forest Demon Deacon led all FBS tackles in pass-block grade for the season, allowing just 13 pressures in 14 starts, including zero to Jermaine Johnson II in their Week 3 showdown.
Given his relatively slight frame, Tom will likely end up on the interior, which is where he spent his first few years on campus before moving to left tackle in 2020.
Still, the 6-foot-4, 304-pound lineman should at least get a shot at tackle. He’s already an advanced pass-protector and is a natural at using his hands independently. After a stellar collegiate career, Tom proceeded to light up the scouting combine, recording a 4.94-second 40-yard dash (97th percentile among interior offensive linemen historically), 1.70-second 10-yard split (96th), 33-inch vertical (96th), 9-foot-10 broad jump (99th), 4.47-second pro agility (94th) and 7.32-second three-cone (97th).
Tom fits like a glove in Green Bay’s offense. Don’t be surprised if he becomes a quality starter at the NFL level.
WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: QB SAM HOWELL (144TH OVERALL)
Shockingly, just one quarterback was taken in the first round of the draft after it was rumored that three or more could be taken on Day 1. Even more shocking was the fact that it took until Round 3 for the next quarterback to hear his name called.
Desmond Ridder, Malik Willis and Matt Corral all found new homes in the third round, while North Carolina’s Sam Howell missed out, somehow going from the 2021 preseason's top pick to a Day 3 selection.
North Carolina's offense didn’t have Howell do a lot of “NFL quarterbacking.” It featured a hefty dose of run-pass options and simplistic reads. Still, he managed to showcase top-tier arm talent, totaling 86 big-time throws in three seasons — the most of any quarterback in the class.
He also is a proven gamer. After losing four marquee weapons to the NFL prior to the 2021 season, Howell was forced to make up for a one-dimensional skill position group by utilizing his legs. He thrived on the ground despite not being a dynamic athlete, generating the second-most 10-plus-yard runs (45) among FBS quarterbacks. And despite having few pass-catching weapons to speak of, Howell still earned an 80.3 passing grade for the season.
While there are rightful concerns with his game, Howell should have come off the board multiple rounds sooner.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: OL DARIAN KINNARD (146TH OVERALL)
Kinnard can use his brute strength to immediately provide value in the run game: He posted run-blocking grades of 89.1, 91.9 and 91.8 in his three years starting at the collegiate level.
The Kentucky Wildcat is a candidate to kick inside given his sluggish movement ability, and his pass sets need to be completely reworked. Still, at a minimum, he’s going to be a significant add for this rushing attack.
BUFFALO BILLS: WR KHALIL SHAKIR (148TH OVERALL)
Shakir is likely a slot-only player at the next level with his oddly short arms, measuring in at just over 29 inches. Still, he has elite body control, stout collegiate production and a feel for finding soft spots, all making him a promising NFL player. Shakir posted a PFF grade above 86.0 in three straight seasons from 2019 through 2021 with the Broncos. He saw more than 305 targets in his career and generated a 111.9 passer rating on those reps with 42 broken tackles and 2.80 yards per route run.
TENNESSEE TITANS: WR KYLE PHILIPS (163RD OVERALL)
Philips may be pigeonholed to the slot, but there’s nothing wrong with that. He is a crafty route-runner with sweet short-area quicks and can separate at a high level. Despite a lackluster quarterback situation at UCLA, Philips was the model of consistency, posting PFF grades of 72.9, 73.1 and 77.6 in his three years with the team. At the East-West Shrine Bowl, he was the highest-graded wide receiver in one-on-ones. The 5-foot-11, 189-pounder should have been off the board a couple of rounds sooner.
CHICAGO BEARS: EDGE DOMINIQUE ROBINSON (174TH OVERALL)
Robinson ranked 81st on the PFF big board not because of what he is right now, but because of what he can be. The 6-foot-5, 253-pound Miami (OH) product converted from wide receiver to the edge a couple of years ago and has rushed the passer just 314 times in his career. He is undoubtedly a raw player, and his production shows that with just 32 pressures a 68.1 pass-rush grade, but his traits give him a high ceiling. Robinson is an electrifying athlete, evidenced by his 41-inch vertical and 4.19-second shuttle time.
GREEN BAY PACKERS: EDGE KINGSLEY ENAGBARE (179TH OVERALL)
Enagbare has a high motor, excellent length and big-time pop in his hands, which helped him record a 92.5 pass-rush grade this past season. The problem is his lack of refinement, inability to play in control and limited physical tools. All of that likely played a role in the former South Carolina Gamecock's slide, but this was a bit too far.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: IOL JAMAREE SALYER (195TH OVERALL)
Salyer played all five spots along the offensive line during his Georgia career, and he showcased quality pass protection, regardless of position, allowing just 14 pressures across 794 career pass-blocking snaps. The 6-foot-3, 321-pound Georgia product packs power in his punch and brings a physical presence in the run game. He may be stuck inside at the next level due to athletic limitations, but his on-field play when healthy warranted him to be drafted on Day 2.