NFL Analysis


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2022 NFL Re-Draft: Who Would Every Team Take 2 Years Later?

Sauce Gardner celebrate

The 2024 NFL Draft was a ton of fun, but looking back at recent draft classes is always a humbling reminder that some of the optimism fades once the players hit the field. With two seasons in the books since the 2022 NFL Draft, we can already see which picks were smash hits and other clear misses. 

What if we could discard the original results and give teams a mulligan? We've entered our time machine to the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft and completely rewrote history. 

2022 NFL Re-Draft

1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

Original Pick: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

The consensus at the time was that the Jacksonville Jaguars got a little cute with the top pick, opting for Travon Walker instead of Aidan Hutchinson due to the former's remarkable athleticism and dense frame. It was the wrong call, and no one would bat an eye if Hutchinson went first overall in a do-over.

However, Sauce Gardner is even better than Hutchinson. His man coverage splits are historically good through two seasons, proving to be one of the rare young difference-makers at an invaluable position. 

2. Detroit Lions - Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

Original Pick: Hutchinson

The local kid stays at home again and is the face of the Detroit Lions franchise. Hutchinson was an easy prospect to scout and has quickly become a star. He's racked up 21 sacks, which is 4.5 more than the second-best mark of anyone in his class. 

3. Houston Texans - Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State

Original Pick: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

The Houston Texans are obviously happy with C.J. Stroud now, but they didn't know he was coming in 2022. They selected Derek Stingley Jr., who rebounded after an awful rookie season with five interceptions in 2023 but still isn't close to being worth this pick. He's also missed 14 games through two seasons.

Instead, the Texans would've taken Brock Purdy, who was Mr. Irrelevant. Purdy has been phenomenal for the 49ers, proving perfect for the league's best offensive scheme and transcending it at times. Stroud has a higher ceiling, but the Texans still would've been in great hands had they given the franchise keys to Purdy. 

4. New York Jets - Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

Original Pick: Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

There's a gap between Sauce and Trent McDuffie, but not a big enough one for the New York Jets to have been upset at this result.

McDuffie has become an MVP-level contributor to the Kansas City secondary in his first two seasons, proving to be a shutdown corner in the slot and outside. He earned an All-Pro nod in 2023.

5. New York Giants - Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

Original Pick: Thibodeaux

The draft gets more interesting here, as the class lacked superstars after the first few picks. The New York Giants' need for a pass-rusher was clear, and Kayvon Thibodeaux is as good, if not better, than everyone outside of Hutchinson.

His athletic ceiling is still high as he turns 24 in December and is coming off an 11.5-sack year.

6. Carolina Panthers - Tyler Smith, OL, Tulsa

Original Pick: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

The Carolina Panthers clearly missed on Ikem Ekwonu, but he's also likely playing out of position at left tackle. Instead of forcing the fit, they should've gone with the high upside of Tyler Smith, who has the third-best career-added value in the class. That's a remarkable accomplishment for an offensive lineman. 

Smith has played left guard for Dallas through two years but was considered a prospect who could've lined up at tackle as well. Carolina surely would've been happier with a Pro Bowl-caliber guard instead. 

7. New York Giants - Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Original Pick: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Like Carolina, New York had the right idea but missed on the player. Evan Neal has dealt with injuries through two seasons, but his poor play in both seasons already has his outlook in jeopardy.

As tempting as Kyle Hamilton or a receiver would be, the right pick would've been Charles Cross, who has been average or better at left tackle in that same span for Seattle. 

8. Atlanta Falcons - Kyle Hamilton, SAF, Notre Dame

Original Pick: Drake London, WR, USC

The Atlanta Falcons entered this draft with a smorgasbord of needs, and taking Drake London has been relatively justified.

He's a good player, but Atlanta had the chance to take a bigger difference-maker on its ailing defense. Kyle Hamilton was unleashed in 2023 in a better role, and his impact in all phases is hard to find at the position. 

9. Seattle Seahawks - Riq Woolen, CB, UTSA

Original Pick: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Seeing Cross off the board is a crushing blow for the Seattle Seahawks because the tackle depth in the 2022 class quickly faded. The corner class also did, so grabbing a player Seattle stole in the fifth round is a natural fit.

Riq Woolen was a moldable piece of clay that quickly became a diamond, and the playmaker would've been a great value at No. 9 overall.  

10. New York Jets - Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

Original Pick: Wilson

The Jets are lucky to land Garrett Wilson 10th overall again. It's hard to put him higher despite his incredible talent because other key positions lack the depth the top-end of the receiving class had in 2022.

Wilson figures to re-emerge as a Pro Bowl candidate with Aaron Rodgers throwing to him this fall.

11. New Orleans Saints - Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Original Pick: Olave

No receiver in the class has a higher value than Chris Olave through two years, so the New Orleans Saints' huge trade-up for the former Buckeye was justified on the field.

He lands behind his former teammate again because Wilson's raw skill set is still more impressive, but Olave is a home run pick nonetheless. Olave's totaled 2,165 yards and nine touchdowns in The Big Easy.  

12. Detroit Lions - George Pickens, WR, Georgia

Original Pick: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama 

While there's still time for Jameson Williams to live up to the expectations that came with his electric run at Alabama, the clock is ticking fast, and his repeated missteps are concerning.

Detroit hasn't paid the price for whiffing on their trade-up for him yet, but it would surely enjoy getting quality production from his roster spot. 

Georgia's George Pickens should've been a first-round pick back then, and he's safely been a top-15 player in this class. He ranks third in the 2022 crop with 1,941 receiving yards and nine scores. 

13. Philadelphia Eagles - DaRon Bland, CB, Fresno State

Original Pick: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

It's hard to imagine the Philadelphia Eagles are unhappy with Jordan Davis. He's been impactful to their run defense when on the field and has chipped in 2.5 sacks. But he hasn't been a playmaker on a unit deep in the trenches but weak in the secondary until this offseason.

DaRon Bland was a fifth-round pick and has been an elite playmaker for Dallas. With 14 interceptions and an NFL-record five pick-sixes in 2023, the All-Pro has a unique place in the league's history. He'll have to continue improving his discipline and avoid giving up big plays as he chases turnovers (which is why he fell a bit in this re-draft), but most teams would be happy to deal with that issue if the interceptions continue.

14. Baltimore Ravens - Drake London, WR, USC

Original Pick: Kyle Hamilton, SAF, Notre Dame

There's no option to add Hamilton, so the Baltimore Ravens go to the offensive side instead. We continue to mock receivers to the Ravens because they've struggled so much to identify and develop playmakers at the position properly.

Even now, London would be the team's top receiver if he were in Baltimore. 

15. Houston Texans - Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

Original Pick: Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M

For all of the hand-wringing about not wanting to pay running backs or take them in the first round, it's funny how a few ball carriers end up as top-32 players in most years.

There's no question Breece Hall should've heard his name called on the first night of action, and Houston would've been an amazing spot with Purdy. Hall just turned 23 and is already a top-five NFL rusher. 

16. Washington Commanders - Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State

Original Pick: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

Very quietly, Martin Emerson has become a premier cover corner in Cleveland. The 6-foot-2, 201-pounder earned more attention in 2023 as the Browns' defense improved, and Emerson played a big part in that as he became a full-time starter.

His length and playmaking are key to the unit, and his presence would have massively aided the Washington Commanders' continued need for help in the secondary. 

17. Los Angeles Chargers - Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College

Original Pick: Johnson

We haven't kept many picks the same, but Zion Johnson to the Los Angeles Chargers was a popular mock draft match for a reason. Johnson has been exactly what the Chargers had hoped, providing stability for a line that hasn't had much in years.

He ranked 63rd of all NFL linemen in production above average for Sports Info Solutions, highlighting that he's already an above-average player at his position.   

18. Tennessee Titans - Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

Original Pick: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

There are misses that still have hope, like Jameson Williams, and then there are guys on the cutline, like Treylon Burks.

The Tennessee Titans took a massive swing on the raw but physically tantalizing prospect out of Arkansas, and he's the latest receiver bust in Nashville. They didn't have the chance to get Walker originally, but they've needed a quality second pass rusher for years, so they should've looked to fill that hole instead of reaching on Burks.  

19. New Orleans Saints - Zach Tom, OT, Wake Forest

Original Pick: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

The risks associated with athletic but raw blockers are clear. Despite New Orleans' usually stellar ability to develop such athletes, Trevor Penning has yet to fix his penalties and technical issues.

Zach Tom, who was considered undersized at 6-foot-4, has been much better as the 140th overall pick. 

20. Pittsburgh Steelers - Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State 

Original Pick: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt

Everyone knew this quarterback class stunk, and if the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to swing on a risky first-round addition, Kenny Pickett made little sense due to his lack of physical traits.

The class doesn't have a good alternative with Purdy long gone, so Pittsburgh cuts the cord even earlier on Chase Claypool and adds the raw but naturally gifted Christian Watson. 

21. Kansas City Chiefs - George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

Original Pick: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

Only Hutchinson has more sacks than George Karlaftis since being drafted in 2022, so the Kansas City Chiefs clearly got that pick right. Karlaftis is a good fit as a power end, giving solid support in the run game, and he's a capable closer next to Chris Jones.

There's plenty of room for him to improve as a more explosive sack artist, but getting a quality contributor at this point in this draft is fine. 

22. Green Bay Packers - Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

Original Pick: Quay Walker, LB, Georgia

Another pick where the team would love a mulligan, the Green Bay Packers could avoid a mistake and improve upon their first-round selection here. Jordan Davis was long gone, but neither Quay Walker nor Devonte Wyatt has made impactful plays thus far.

Most of Walker's stats are the definition of empty calories, so an athletic, enormous nose tackle would've been far more helpful. 

23. Buffalo Bills - Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

Original Pick: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

It's true that Stingley hasn't quite lived up to the hope he'd be a versatile cover man with top-notch ball skills, but he's flashed enough to believe he's on the right track to be a starting-caliber option.

The same can't be said for Kaiir Elam, who has played in only 16 games for the Buffalo Bills and is coming off a major ankle injury. 

24. Dallas Cowboys - Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

Original Pick: Tyler Smith, OG, Tulsa

The Dallas Cowboys had no chance to reclaim Smith, who was viewed as a risky investment at the time but a stellar choice in retrospect.

The alternate was going with a pure center in Tyler Linderbaum. Linderbaum has been everything evaluators expected throughout the draft process, providing a boost for Baltimore's run game in particular. 

25. Baltimore Ravens - Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State

Original Pick: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

Getting sniped for Linderbaum is a bummer, but the Ravens' decision to take the center in the first round was a bit surprising at the time because they've drafted the middle rounds so effectively. The value of a center in the first round was a bit rich. Instead, Baltimore could've hedged against being ravaged by injuries at the running back position and taken a good pure rusher in Kenneth Walker III.

Walker leads his 2022 class peers by 190 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Others are better-receiving options, but the Ravens would've thrived with his blend of patience and power.  

26. New York Jets - Jalen Pitre, SAF, Baylor

Original Pick: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State

Taking only high-value positions in the first round is a nice idea but not always functional. Jermaine Johnson II is talented and athletic and could succeed in the right situation. But New York has too much depth for him to play, and they wasted a valuable resource to force the pick on a backup. 

Safety Jalen Pitre would've been a fun addition to their young secondary. Pitre was more effective as a rookie in Houston than in Year 2, but his range and consistent tackling would've fit nicely into Robert Saleh's defense instead of Jordan Whitehead. 

27. Jacksonville Jaguars - Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

Original Pick: Lloyd

A dynamic, do-it-all player in college, Devin Lloyd remains the pick for Jacksonville. He's posted 242 tackles, three interceptions, 15 pass breakups, and four fumble recoveries in his two seasons.

I'd like to see Lloyd take the next step to create more sacks and run stops near the line of scrimmage in 2024, but we're not passing on stars by sticking with Lloyd in a situation that has worked out well enough.

28. Green Bay Packers - Luke Goedeke, OT, Central Michigan

Original Pick: Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia 

Green Bay found both of its starting tackles in this draft in Zach Tom and Rasheed Walker. Tom has been much better of the two, as Walker took a whopping nine penalties and six sacks allowed in 2023. Since Wyatt has been fine but not remarkable thus far, taking an upgrade at tackle in Luke Goedeke makes sense.

Goedeke has been a bright spot for Tampa Bay, ranking 50th in Sports Info Solutions' offensive linemen rankings in 2023.  

29. New England Patriots - Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

Original Pick: Cole Strange, OG, Chattanooga

As mentioned earlier, Penning has had consistent issues, but there have also been areas of improvement that keep him in the first round.

Cole Strange was a stunning pick on draft night, and he's struggled to adjust to the NFL's strength and size. The New England Patriots still need a long-term starter at left tackle, so going with Penning better addresses a more pressing weakness.

30. Kansas City Chiefs - James Cook, RB, Georgia

Original Pick: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

Sure, Kansas City found the ultimate value with Isiah Pacheco in the seventh round of this draft, but this re-do wouldn't offer that opportunity again.

While Pacheco has outproduced James Cook as a rusher but 136 yards, he's needed 49 more attempts to get there. Cook has 151 more receiving yards and would be a more well-rounded playmaker for Patrick Mahomes. 

31. Cincinnati Bengals - Alontae Taylor, CB, Tennessee

Original Pick: Dax Hill, SAF, Michigan

There aren't many better slot corners in the NFL than Alontae Taylor. I suspect the 6-foot-1, 199-pounder would have just as much success as a full-time boundary corner if he had the opportunity.

The Cincinnati Bengals still have some uncertainty despite Cam Taylor-Britt breaking out a bit in 2023, and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo would've benefitted from the more pro-ready player in Talyor in 2022.

32. Minnesota Vikings - Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska

Original Pick: Lewis Cine, SAF, Georgia

It took some time for Cam Taylor-Britt to come into his own, but the back half of his 2023 season was promising enough to land here.

He finished last season with four picks and 11 pass breakups, showing the quick twitch and footwork needed to be a long-term starter. Considering that Lewis Cine has not contributed at all for the Minnesota Vikings, getting any playable body would've been a massive win in comparison.