The 2022 NFL Draft is an unusual one, with seven teams owning multiple first-round picks, the highest figure in at least 40 years. Those seven teams control 15 of the 32 first-round selections and have a real opportunity to enact needle-moving change within their organizations based on using those picks wisely.
But what does that look like? Here, I give my take on the perfect first round for each team with multiple selections, with the stipulation that each team actually uses each pick rather than trades down or flips them for future picks.
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First up are the Lions, whose first pick is at No. 2 overall. Detroit is partway through its multi-year rebuilding process, and while last season was all about rebuilding the trenches, this year should be about attacking the perimeter players. Given this draft, No. 2 overall could actually be a strangely awkward spot for the Lions if the Jacksonville Jaguars select Aidan Hutchinson as expected. Kayvon Thibodeaux is the next best edge rusher on most draft boards but seems to have his stock sliding as we approach the draft. Kyle Hamilton already had the fact that he plays safety working against him, as well as relatively pedestrian 40-yard dash times at the combine, which got reportedly worse at Notre Dame’s pro day and may have torpedoed his chances of going this high.
Three of the top players in the draft are offensive tackles — a position Detroit is very unlikely to select, and the top cornerback or receiver would seem like a reach here. The Lions could be put in the awkward position of needing to reach for their favorite player, or grabbing a quarterback if there’s one they love.
Hutchinson somehow making it past Jacksonville would be a dream scenario, but the closer to the draft we get, the less realistic it looks. Their realistic decision may be between Thibodeaux and Georgia’s Travon Walker. Ultimately, Thibodeaux’s proven production is too much of a differentiator to go with Walker’s greater unknown. Thibodeaux’s pass-rush win rate (23.2%) last season was more than twice as high as Walker’s.
At Pick No. 32, the Lions are arguably playing with house money. They could be well-positioned to grab a quarterback they like or reinforce a position such as cornerback or receiver.
Given the potential upside to hitting on a new quarterback, I think the Lions would be wise to roll the dice here on their favorite one remaining. Matt Corral brings a lot of upside, and his biggest question marks are to do with the RPO-heavy offense he played in rather than any real negatives he has shown. Corral’s Ole Miss offense featured RPOs on 40.2% of its plays. The NFL average is around 10%.
The Texans are in the rare position of needing help at effectively every position. The roster management has been in a holding pattern, just treading water until they could resolve the Deshaun Watson situation and trade him away for a huge draft haul. That has finally happened, and now they can actually begin the construction project for this franchise, starting at No. 3 overall. It gives a fascinating insight into what general manager Nick Caserio believes is the most important foundation piece to a team that has very little to build around thus far.