The best picks in every round of the 2022 NFL Draft

Every NFL team added players in the 2022 NFL Draft who they’re happy with, but some teams stood out in their ability to secure phenomenal value or quality players with their picks. Here is my take on the best pick in each round of the draft.

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Round 1: No. 25 — C Tyler Linderbaum, Baltimore Ravens

There were plenty of excellent picks in Round 1, and what separates this one is the potential value involved. Linderbaum is the best center prospect to enter the NFL since PFF began grading college football in 2014. He earned a 95.4 grade last season on the back of a 91.5 mark the season before.

On the field, he is as close to the Quenton Nelson of centers as you will find, but unlike Nelson, questions began to arise as Linderbaum went through the pre-draft testing process. He has 31-inch arms and struggled to clear 300 pounds in weight at 6-foot-2. None of these things are likely to cause him big problems at the next level, but they gave detractors an excuse to hammer the point that center is not a position of high value in today’s NFL.

Consequently, Linderbaum slipped from a fringe top-10 selection based on his tape alone all the way to No. 25 overall. That’s phenomenal value for Baltimore, even factoring in the position he plays.

Honorable mention: No. 14 Kyle Hamilton, Baltimore Ravens | No. 20 Trent McDuffie, Kansas City Chiefs

Round 2: No. 55 — WR Skyy Moore, Kansas City Chiefs

Almost every pick the Chiefs made is a contender for best pick of the round, but arguably their best one came in the second when they selected wide receiver Skyy Moore. The team had a big need at the position after trading away Tyreek Hill, but the early run on wideouts in the first round had left Kansas City out of luck. The Chiefs went defense and elected to circle back in the second, grabbing Moore, who earned a better PFF grade last season, tallied more receiving yards and was ranked higher on the PFF Big Board than Jahan Dotson (drafted 16 overall).

Moore is an exceptional receiver with great footwork, route running and toughness. He would be a steal at this position in any offense, but pairing him with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' attack has the potential to create something outstanding.

Honorable mention: No. 38 Arnold Ebiketie, Atlanta Falcons | No. 61 Drake Jackson, San Francisco 49ers

Round 3: No. 83 — LB Nakobe Dean, Philadelphia Eagles

It would be easy to pick one of the quarterbacks in this spot, but the fact that the entire class slipped in the draft, coupled with the abstract analysis of how bad the group was, suggests the players' draft slots were warranted.

Nakobe Dean, meanwhile, is arguably the steal of the draft. He consistently looked like the best player on one of the best defenses college football has ever seen, earning the highest PFF grade of anyone on Georgia’s defense in 2021. Dean has some of the best read-and-react ability you will ever see from a linebacker, and even if injuries cost him time (which the Eagles claim is not an issue), he will vastly outperform this draft slot. Dean earned elite PFF grades in every facet of play last season and gets to continue to play at the next level behind some imposing defensive linemen.

Honorable mention: No. 72 Abraham Lucas, Seattle Seahawks | No. 76 Travis Jones, Baltimore Ravens

Round 4: No. 140 — T Zach Tom, Green Bay Packers

The Packers have done remarkably well in recent years putting together a capable offensive line without a lot in the way of top-end resources, and players like Tom are a big reason why. He likely kicks inside at the next level, but he boasts impressive movement skills that allow him to mirror pass-rushers and enough athleticism to survive on the outside if the Packers want to give him that opportunity.

Tom posted a 92.1 PFF pass-blocking grade in his final season at Wake Forest and fits the kind of versatile, technically sound model of offensive lineman the Packers have been collecting in recent seasons. He could easily end up starting games for the team, and to snag that kind of player in the fourth round is excellent value for Green Bay after ranking 64th on PFF’s big board.

Honorable mention: No. 111 Max Mitchell, New York Jets | No. 115 Damarri Mathis, Denver Broncos

Round 5: No. 144 — QB Sam Howell, Washington Commanders

Howell’s slide in the draft says a lot about how the NFL views him as a prospect but also how it views this entire draft class. That being said, there are reports that NFL teams (ones without a quarterback spot available) had him ranked much higher than he ended up being drafted. If you rewind just seven or eight months, you can find Howell being consistently mocked within the top five picks of the draft.

There are issues with his game and the RPO-heavy offense he ran in college, but he has NFL tools and was drafted behind quarterbacks who had no business being taken before him. Washington grabbed a player with an outside shot of being a future starter in the fifth round — it’s hard to argue with that kind of potential.

Honorable mention: No. 145 Darian Kinnard, Kansas City Chiefs | No. 157 Zyon McCollum, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Round 6: No. 195 — OL Jamaree Salyer, Los Angeles Chargers

It’s difficult to discern why Salyer slipped this far in the draft. The starting left tackle for the national champion Georgia Bulldogs, Salyer isn’t coming off his best year (68.3 PFF grade), but he had back-to-back seasons with an 80.0-plus grade before that and his pass-blocking grades were still very good. He almost certainly moves inside to guard at the next level, where he has the pass-blocking chops to be a starter and the size to become a quality run-blocker.

Every prospect has flaws in the latter rounds, but the Chargers drafted a player with a real chance of starting games for them in the sixth round. That’s outstanding value. Salyer allowed just one sack in three years of pass blocking in the SEC.

Honorable mention: No. 182 Darrian Beavers, New York Giants | No. 215 Lecitus Smith, Arizona Cardinals

Round 7: No. 229 — WR Bo Melton, Seattle Seahawks

Melton has slite straight-line speed, posting a 4.34-second 40-yard dash time and a 10-yard split under 1.5 seconds flat. He was a legit recruit who attended Rutgers because of family connections with the school, and it may have harmed his draft prospects. Melton’s production was average at best, but a lot of that was because of questionable quarterback play. He has good hands, some after-the-catch ability and the speed to threaten deep, and that’s a lot to work with for a seventh-round draft pick. Melton’s yards per route run figure improved each year of his college career, culminating in 2.28 yards this past season.

Honorable mention: No. 242 Kalon Barnes, Carolina Panthers | No. 249 Rasheed Walker, Green Bay Packers

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