With the 2022 NFL Draft now in the books, here’s a look back at some of the biggest surprises on day one this year.
With a number of wild draft day trades and picks, the 2022 NFL Draft has not failed to entertain. Whether it was A.J. Brown and Marquise Brown both changing teams, or jumps from pick 32 to 12, the draft has had many questioning what certain franchises were thinking.
Just like every NFL Draft prior, plenty of talent fell and plenty of players went far higher than anticipated. While it’s not uncommon for mock drafts to be wrong, this draft has surprised many with how the talent has been dispersed across picks.
In both positive and negative fashions, there were a number of shocking events that went down on day 1.
Pittsburgh opts for Pickett
With the 20th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Steelers decided to keep Kenny Pickett in Pittsburgh and took him to be their next franchise QB following Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement. However, with the interest Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin showed in Willis combined with Willis having a higher ceiling, this pick begins to confuse. Especially when you consider that they signed Mitchell Trubisky this offseason to be their bridge QB.
So while Pickett is the more pro-ready quarterback, the pick is a bit surprising with the expectation that Trubisky was going to be the bridge quarterback for the team. Though the pick isn’t bad, one can’t help but scratch their head at the selection with Willis still on the board.
New England Trades Up to 29
Bill Belichick makes a classic Belichick move and always drafts the player he believes is their guy. When the Patriots traded up to pick 29, not many expected them to select Chattanooga interior offensive lineman Cole Strange. While many scouts raved about this player, they were raving about him as a day 2 steal.
In fact, according to PFF’s 2022 NFL Draft Big Board, Strange was the 86th best player in this draft. Despite Cole Strange being a well-regarded player, many questions why the Patriots traded up for a player most expected to fall into the end of day 2. But, if there’s one thing NFL fans have learned over the years, it’s that Belichick will always take the guy he wants most and it usually works out for him.
Talent Falls to the Second
As expected in every NFL draft, first-round talent does fall out of the first and into the second. Take guys like Darius Leonard, Nick Chubb, and Derrick Henry as recent examples. However, some very shocking talent fell from the first round in the 2022 NFL draft.
Big names such as Malik Willis, Nakobe Dean, and Andrew Booth Jr. were all almost consensus projected to go in the first round, yet did not have their names called on day one. Again, while it’s not unusual for talent to fall, seeing arguably the top-ranked prospects at their respective positions drop is shocking, to say the least.
Lions Jump 20 Spots for a Wide Receiver
The Detroit Lions made the call to jump from the last pick in the first round up to pick 12, making a 20-spot jump to get their guy. While many anticipated them to snatch one of the quarterbacks off the board, the Lions opted to get themselves their own superstar wide receiver in Jameson Williams from Alabama.
What makes this trade-up even more surprising is that the Vikings originally held the 12th pick. The Vikings allowed their divisional rival to trade up to a top 15 pick to draft arguably the most talented receiver in the class. Overall, the entire situation was unexpected by most and especially when you consider the fact that the Vikings will now have to guard Jameson Williams twice a year.
With more drafting to come, these will certainly not be the extent of shocking moves by NFL franchises. Only time will tell if the surprise behind these moves will have been warranted or not.