Our experts answer big NFL draft questions: What was the best pick — and the biggest head-scratcher?

Sports

We’re now over a week removed from the 2022 NFL draft, and rookie camps have just started to kick off. So it is a good time to ask our NFL expert panel to weigh in on some of the biggest lingering questions. That includes what our writers and analysts liked, what they didn’t like and more, as they debate the notable picks of Rounds 1-7.

While we didn’t see many quarterbacks come off the board early, we did watch numerous future stars join new pro teams. Through a record-setting series of trades, teams moved up and down the board to land top prospects or acquire more draft capital to seek out late-round steals. Some moves will work out. Some moves won’t. Our 13 panelists evaluated the new crop of rookies as things stand right now, answering questions about their favorite picks, the biggest head-scratchers and more.

Check back every day this week to see more questions and answers — including which team’s class stands out and which rookies could be fantasy stars. The topics we have hit so far (click the links to see the answers):

What was your favorite pick in the entire 2022 draft?

Stephania Bell, fantasy football analyst: OT Bernhard Raimann to the Colts at No. 77. The Colts upgraded at quarterback this offseason by way of Matt Ryan, but the offensive line is still a work in progress and critical to his success, given that he’s not exactly fleet of foot. Matty Ice has been below league average when pressured over the past three seasons in TD rate, interception rate and sack rate. And just last year, the Colts allowed pressure at the seventh-highest rate (32.1% of dropbacks). So the 6-foot-6, 303-pound Raimann — who had the mobility to play tight end — was a huge value pick in the third round and will continue to develop at the position.

Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: S Kyle Hamilton to the Ravens at No. 14. With his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame and top-down speed, Hamilton can play a disruptive role in the Ravens’ system. Look for new coordinator Mike Macdonald to deploy the versatile rookie at multiple levels of the field to create on-the-ball production.

Mike Clay, fantasy football writer: WR Skyy Moore to the Chiefs at No. 54. Stuck with a void at wide receiver after trading away Tyreek Hill, Kansas City might have found Patrick Mahomes‘ long-term No. 1 target late in the second round. Moore has huge hands and good speed, and he can line up all over the field — a staple of Andy Reid’s scheme. Moore was heavily targeted (32% target share) and reliable (four drops on 256 targets) at Western Michigan, and he has a shot to play an immediate every-down role in one of the league’s best offenses.

Tristan H. Cockcroft, fantasy football writer: RB Breece Hall to the Jets at No. 36. Everyone seemed to love the Jets’ draft, myself included, and making the call between Hall and No. 26 overall pick Jermaine Johnson II — whose value there seemed an absolute steal — was a tough one. While I don’t love the move in fantasy football terms — one-two running back punches are more headache than helpful — I do love the fit for Hall. He is a better fit to be the team’s primary running back than Michael Carter. He will take some of the pressure off sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson and better balance the offense.

Jeremy Fowler, national NFL writer: WR John Metchie III to the Texans at No. 44. This is a player NFL coaches liked as a first-round talent, but he was underplayed in the pre-draft process due to his ACL recovery. The Texans are the perfect team to prioritize an injured player because they are at least a year away and can be patient with him. Once at full strength, Metchie will prove his worth as a top option for quarterback Davis Mills.

Dan Graziano, national NFL writer: S Daxton Hill to the Bengals at No. 31. Look, my answer is probably Hamilton, but I have to think he’s going to be a popular one, so let’s pivot here and highlight what I thought was a really smart value pick by the defending AFC champs. The Bengals see Hill as a Swiss Army knife-type of defensive back who can play safety, slot corner and basically whatever else they need him to do in their secondary. They hit the offensive line hard in free agency, as they should have, but they had some holes to fill on defense, too. Hill can help them fill whatever those turn out to be. And he’s not a bad leverage play for the team in case Jessie Bates III‘s contract dispute continues to linger.

Doug Kezirian, sports betting analyst: WR David Bell to the Browns at No. 99. I was actually going to say Hill, given he is a slot safety and will provide tons of flexibility, but Graziano stole my thunder. Regardless, I think Bell will have a long and productive career. His measurables weren’t great, but he shines on the football field. Once he starts producing — just like he did in college — everyone will wonder how he fell to the third round and why 15 wideouts were drafted ahead of him.

Eric Moody, fantasy football writer: WR Skyy Moore to the Chiefs at No. 55. Kansas City fans were still reeling from the loss of Tyreek Hill but might have breathed a sigh of relief with the selection of Moore. His route-running ability is excellent, as is his ability to create space with route leverage. The explosive Chiefs offense is poised to terrorize defenses in the NFL for many years to come.

Matt Miller, NFL draft analyst: S Kyle Hamilton to the Ravens at No. 14. Hamilton was my No. 4 overall player in the entire draft class, so not only was this pick a great value for Baltimore, but it is also a perfect example of taking the best player available. Hamilton will be a leader and a three-down difference-maker for the Ravens’ defense.

Jordan Reid, NFL draft analyst: ILB Nakobe Dean to the Eagles at No. 83. Linebacker play has been the Achilles’ heel for Philadelphia’s secondary for quite some time. The Eagles are sorely lacking a true leader in the middle, and Dean gives them a possible answer. GM Howie Roseman tends to neglect drafting linebackers early in the draft, but after Dean fell to the third round, the value was too good to pass up. Dean has a solid blend of pursuit speed, controlled aggressiveness and savviness in all parts of his game, and he has a chance to have an early impact for the franchise.

Mike Tannenbaum, NFL front office insider: CB Trent McDuffie to the Chiefs at No. 21. Moving up in a deal with New England, Kansas City drafted an outstanding corner who has scheme versatility. McDuffie is effective in both man and zone coverages, and he shows instincts and toughness. I think he could be a top corner in the league.

Seth Walder, sports analytics writer: QB Malik Willis to the Titans at No. 86. Even if there’s just a small chance Willis is a franchise-level QB, this is a worthwhile gamble for a team that might be in the QB market a year from now anyway. If it doesn’t work out, the cost wasn’t that significant. But if it does, there’s franchise-altering upside. That’s hard to find in the third round.

Field Yates, NFL analyst: WR Jameson Williams to the Lions at No. 12. Absent his ACL tear in January, there’s virtually no chance Williams would have been available at No. 12. Since there’s no certainty of when he’ll return, I understood why teams that needed receiver help for Week 1 of this season might have been skittish on trading up for Williams in the event he’s not 100 percent until closer to the middle of the year. But Detroit is a team that can afford to be patient, and it didn’t surrender future draft capital to execute the trade up. I think Williams is a special player.


What was the biggest head-scratching pick of the draft?

Bell: WR Jameson Williams to the Lions at No. 12. Don’t get me wrong. I love Williams and the talent he will bring to the NFL. But the Lions have needs aplenty, which makes it hard for me to buy the logic of sacrificing picks Nos. 32, 34 and 66 for the chance to pluck Williams, a wide receiver just over three months removed from ACL reconstruction surgery. (Detroit did also get No. 46 back in the swap.) The hope is that the Lions are playing the long game and will be patient with his return-to-play status, especially given their other able pass-catchers, including receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, tight end T.J. Hockenson and running back De’Andre Swift.

Bowen: WR Tyquan Thornton to the Patriots at No. 50. Thornton has the vertical juice to stretch defenses down the field and the foot quickness to create route separation. But given the wide receiver talent on the board at No. 50 — including George Pickens, Alec Pierce and Skyy Moore — I felt the Patriots reached a little here to draft Thornton.

Clay: RB Ken Walker III to the Seahawks at No. 41. Seattle traded away quarterback Russell Wilson and is left with one of the league’s shakiest rosters. Yes, durability is a concern in the backfield, especially with Chris Carson‘s uncertain status. But this is not a franchise that should be prioritizing the league’s most replaceable position when it has so many other major needs.

Cockcroft: WR Wan’Dale Robinson to the Giants at No. 43. I feel like I complain about the Giants’ aggressiveness drafting wide receivers almost annually, and yes, this is probably the first time in years that I felt they should spend some draft capital on the position. Still, Robinson is a smallish, more slot-oriented wide receiver, and his lackluster combine numbers had him almost universally graded outside the position’s top 10 prospects. I know the Giants picked up fourth-round (Falcons) and fifth-round (Jets) picks in the process of moving down seven second-round spots, but if they did so feeling they could wait on wide receiver, why didn’t they then just take any of the higher-graded prospects (Skyy Moore, George Pickens or Alec Pierce)?

Fowler: WR Jahan Dotson to the Commanders at No. 16. Dotson should have a fine career, but teams I spoke to had him going in the range of No. 23-35. And it seemed clear that the top four receivers in this draft — Jameson Williams, Drake London, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave — were in their own class. The receiver run between picks Nos. 8 and 12 started and ended with them. Washington was in the thick of that run, picking 11th, before trading out. Dotson, despite his explosion, faces questions about his true position due to size (5-foot-11). Will he be a slot receiver or play on the outside?

Graziano: DE Travon Walker to the Jaguars at No. 1. Maybe they’re right and we’re wrong. Maybe taking the high-upside play on a guy who didn’t have a ton of college production was the right way to go in a draft that seemed to have a lot of people scratching their heads in advance. Maybe Walker will become a superstar who alters the course of Jaguars history and dominates the next decade in the NFL. All I’m saying is, I’d have a lot more faith in all those “maybes” if a team other than the Jaguars had done this. Because, folks, if you’re picking in the top 10 for the 15th time in 16 years, as Jacksonville was, it’s not because you’re good at it.

Kezirian: WR Wan’Dale Robinson to the Giants at No. 43. How did the Giants make this call? Robinson is 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, and it was a reach at No. 43. The Giants also whiffed on Kadarius Toney last year, and one would think they would shy away from another curveball. This just felt like another David Gettleman pick.

Moody: RB James Cook to the Bills at No. 63. I like Cook as a prospect. He has the play speed to create game-changing plays at the pro level, and he is a very capable runner in between the tackles and as a receiver out of the backfield. Nevertheless, Cook is eerily similar to Devin Singletary, the Bills’ current running back. Wouldn’t it be better to prioritize a back who can gain considerable yards after contact between the tackles?

Miller: WR Wan’Dale Robinson to the Giants at No. 43. Robinson is a fine player, but he’s more of a gadget guy right now than a polished wide receiver. That sounds a lot like last year’s first-rounder, Kadarius Toney. This was a luxury pick for a team that’s on a budget.

Reid: WR Velus Jones Jr. to the Bears at No. 71. Despite having two second-round picks, the Bears surprisingly waited until the third round to address arguably the biggest need on their roster. Jones is a dynamic and speedy vertical threat who had a breakout season during his final year at Tennessee as a receiver and return specialist. But he was viewed more as a Day 3 pick, and there were more well-rounded players at the position on the board in the third round including Jalen Tolbert, Khalil Shakir, Romeo Doubs and Calvin Austin III.

Tannenbaum: CB Derek Stingley Jr. to the Texans at No. 3. Houston drafted a talented corner with significant durability concerns. If healthy, Stingley can be great. But Ahmad Gardner was still on the board, and selecting him would have been the better decision in my opinion.

Walder: G Cole Strange to the Patriots at No. 29. One of the most obvious mistakes a team can make is drafting a player well before it needs to. It’s a waste of draft capital. By all indications the Patriots should not have worried about another team taking Strange until the late second round at the earliest (and more likely the third). Is it possible we outsiders misread the market on Strange? It is. But I’d say Sean McVay’s and Les Snead’s live reactions to the selection were awfully revealing.

Yates: TE Trey McBride to the Cardinals at No. 55. Candidly, my answer would be none of the picks. These teams work around the clock for a full year to get to draft weekend, and while it’s obvious that not all picks will work out, I can largely understand the “why” behind them. McBride was clearly the top tight end in this year’s class, but the reason I chose him here is that Arizona ran more sets with at least four receivers on the field than any other team in the NFL last year and made a steep investment in Zach Ertz. Unless the Cardinals are planning to evolve into a more two-tight end-heavy team, McBride might have to wait for playing time.

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