With the picks officially made and the players en route to their new destinations (including some with contracts already signed), the review process begins on the 2022 NFL Draft. Using The 33rd Team’s Prospect Rankings, which teams were most successful in finding value on Thursday Night?
Let’s set some ground rules. First, we’re evaluating which teams managed to select players at a lower spot than our Rankings suggested. Next, the No. 1 overall pick is more important than the 200th pick. Groundbreaking stuff, but it’s more important to find value in the early rounds, so we’ve scaled pick values based on what round they’re in. Based on the excellent Fitzgerald-Spielberger NFL Draft Value chart, the average Day 2 pick is about 2.3 times more valuable than Day 3 and Day 1 sees a value of about 4.1 times, so we’ll use these values. Finally, we’re going to ignore team needs and positional value. Although they are certainly factors in drafting, they’re both fairly subjective. Let’s get into it.
#5: Carolina Panthers
Best Picks: OG Cade Mays, ED Amaré Barno, OT Ikem Ekwonu
Although many draft boards saw QB Matt Corral as a borderline first-rounder, The 33rd Team had him ranked as the 94th-best prospect, and Carolina evidently agreed with the value, selecting him with the 94th overall pick.
Therefore, we turn mostly to the two late-round additions of Cade Mays (6-199) and Amaré Barno (6-189), both of which were ranked in the 170s on our board. Although this isn’t a big jump, Carolina only had one notable reach throughout the entire draft in LB Brandon Smith. This is significantly better than the vast majority of teams and speaks to their high ranking here.
#4: Atlanta Falcons
Best Picks: OG Justin Shaffer, ED Arnold Ebiketie, QB Desmond Ridder, RB Tyler Allgeier, LB Troy Andersen
On the other end of the spectrum, we find the Atlanta Falcons. Despite reaching on three of their picks according to our draft board, the Falcons found significant value just about everywhere else. Although another Day 3 guard may have been the best value at that selection, Ebiketie, Ridder, Allgeier, and Andersen might play key roles for this team for years to come.
#3: Baltimore Ravens
Best Picks: DT Travis Jones, TE Isaiah Likely, CB Jalyn Armour-Davis, S Kyle Hamilton, OT Daniel Faalele, C Tyler Linderbaum
The Ravens made waves early in the draft by waiting for highly-rated players to fall into their laps, and it worked beautifully. Behind DT Travis Jones, who we value as the 11th-best value in the entire draft, the second and fifth of Baltimore’s ridiculous six fourth-round selections were also highly-rated prospects.
Given that, it’s almost superfluous to say that Baltimore got our top-rated DB (No. 2 overall), top-rated IOL, No. 2 DT, and (until his injury) No. 4 EDGE defender without even spending a top-ten pick. With both efficiency and depth, this draft was a monster.
#2: Las Vegas Raiders
Best Picks: OT Thayer Munford, DT Matthew Butler, DT Neil Farrell Jr.
If Baltimore won the early draft, the Raiders won late. By snagging our prospects ranked No. 71 and No. 113 in the final 75 selections, Las Vegas made two of the ten best picks in the draft while beefing up their lines with a pair of quality prospects.
New GM Dave Ziegler and HC Josh McDaniels may have lacked selections in either of the first two rounds, but they did very well with what they had.
#1: Arizona Cardinals
Best Picks: ED Cameron Thomas, OG Marquis Hayes, ED Myjai Sanders, ED Jesse Luketa, TE Trey McBride, OG Lecitus Smith
It’s not clear whether Arizona planned to walk out with the 2022 Draft with three new edge defenders, a pair of guards, and a TE behind newly-extended Zach Ertz. But being able to build depth with repeated, significant value can have long-term benefits for the franchise.
Stealing Cameron Thomas, who was a borderline first-rounder by our rankings, in the third round was only bettered by Philadelphia’s Nakobe Dean pick, and could amount to highway robbery. With late sevenths Marquis Hayes (our No. 139 prospect) and Jesse Luketa (No. 169), the Cardinals seemingly added mid-round talent for pennies on the dollar. When adding in Myjai Sanders at the end of the third round, that results in four of the best 20 picks of the entire draft — a huge testament to their scouting staff.