The 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone, marking the official beginning (in my opinion, at least) of the 2023 NFL/NCAA football season.
I’ve long thought that handing out “draft grades” is a lame content concept, because nobody actually knows what any of these draft classes look like in the long run and while time travel exists in the MCU, it doesn’t in our universe. Instead, here are the three draft classes that I liked the most and a breakdown of why:
1. Baltimore Ravens
The Class: 14. Kyle Hamilton (S, Notre Dame) 25. Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa) 45. David Ojabo (DE, Michigan) 76. Travis Jones (DT, UConn) 110. Daniel Faalele (OT, Minnesota) 119. Jalyn Armour-Davis (CB, Alabama) 128. Charlie Kolar (TE, Iowa State) 130. Jordan Stout (P, Penn State) 139. Isaiah Likely (TE, Coastal Carolina) 141. Damarion Williams (CB, Houston) 196. Tyler Badie (RB, Missouri)
Why I Like It: The Ravens have long had one of the best front offices in the league, whether Ozzie Newsome or Eric De Costa have been in charge. They came on the clock at pick 14, seemingly jumped by the Eagles for Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, and took the top player on the board in Kyle Hamilton. I didn’t write up a big board, but I’ve long thought Hamilton is one of the top two talents in this class.
Moving on, they somehow traded Hollywood Brown to Arizona for a first rounder, managing to grab Iowa’s somewhat undersized but still brutish center Tyler Linderbaum, yet another top talent at a low positional value that fell in their lap. Baltimore returned in the second round and took David Ojabo, a highly talented pass rusher from Michigan who played under new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. Ojabo ultimately fell after getting injured at his Pro Day, and was previously considered a top 15/20 talent.
The values didn’t end there, as the Ravens pounced on Travis Jones, a defensive tackle from UConn who some scouts believe will be a better pro than Jordan Davis because of his interior pass rush ability. Next up, they took one of my favorite project player in Minnesota offensive tackle Daniel Faalele, a huge, near 400 pound former rugby player from Australia with incredible athleticism for his size.
Moving into Day 3, Baltimore invested in two pass catchers at the tight end position with very different styles in Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely, and finished off their draft with a high value running back selection in Missouri’s Tyler Badie.
2. New York Jets
The Class: 4. Sauce Gardner (CB, Cincinnati) 10. Garrett Wilson (WR, Ohio State) 26. Jermaine Johnson (DE, Florida State) 36. Breece Hall (RB, Iowa State) 101. Jeremy Ruckert (TE, Ohio State) 111. Max Mitchell (OT, Louisiana)
Why I Like It: The Jets didn’t draft nearly as many players as the Ravens, but they made every pick matter to help bolster a rebuilding roster within a division that has three potential playoff teams.
In round one, the Jets took Sauce Gardner, a long corner who most notably never allowed a touchdown in his collegiate career. The Jets secondary needed a big boost if they hope to contend multiple times a year with the other teams in the AFC East. Garrett Wilson was selected at ten, and while I had other receivers above him, the Jets still hit a need with the highly talented player and an immediate starter opposite Elijah Moore. After those selections, New York jumped back into the first round late to grab an oddly sliding Jermaine Johnson to fill yet another major need along the defensive line.
On Day 2, New York grabbed a feature running back in Breece Hall from Iowa State. Hall brings the type of running game the Jets were hoping they’d get when they signed Le’Veon Bell a few years back, and fills a big need in terms of ground production. They wrapped Day 2 by selecting Jeremy Ruckert, a tight end from Ohio State. I’m a fan of Ruckert’s game as a pass catcher, and feel his draft stock wasn’t nearly as high as it could have been due to his usage with the Buckeyes.
On Day 3, the Jets only made one pick and made a good one. Max Mitchell brings leader energy to the offensive line room, and provides a serviceable potential replacement should the Jets decide to move on from former first rounder Mekhi Becton, as has been rumored.
All said, by the time New York made its final selection, the Jets added several impact starters, a couple developmental starters, and filled a bunch of needs on a talent depleted roster.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
The Class: 13. Jordan Davis (DT, Georgia) 51. Cam Jurgens (C, Nebraska) 83. Nakobe Dean (LB, Georgia) 181. Kyron Johnson (LB, Kansas) 198. Grant Calcaterra (TE, SMU) – Traded Pick 18 for A.J. Brown (via Tennessee)
The Eagles didn’t make many picks in the 2022 Draft, but they made them all count. Trading in front of the Ravens allowed the Eagles to draft Jordan Davis, who everyone knows is a monster human, and gives the Eagles a replacement for the aging legend Fletcher Cox. There are obvious questions about Davis and how many snaps he’ll play a game, but I think that’s a bit oversold because of the Georgia defenses depth and simply maximizing his efficiency.
After that, Philadelphia used pick 18 to trade for an established Pro Bowl wide receiver in A.J. Brown. After an early run on receivers, the Eagles looked as if they might miss out on getting a starter opposite DeVonta Smith, but instead they opted to pay the huge contract (thanks again, Jacksonville) and bring in a (still really young!) veteran for Jalen Hurts.
On Day 2, the Eagles selected Cam Jurgens, a nasty center prospect from Nebraska. Jurgens’s stock rose over the last few months, and Philadelphia made to move to find a replacement for another aging legend in Jason Kelce. At pick 83, the Eagles allowed all of college football nation to rejoice after drafting star Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean. Dean fell down draft boards due to red flag medicals and size, but his tape was still electrifying and if all goes positive the Eagles will have a steal in round 3 with Dean.
Finally, after a long wait between picks, the Eagles made a couple nice Day 3 developmental selections with Kansas Jayhawk pass rusher Kyron Johnson and SMU (and former Sooner) tight end Grant Calcaterra. Only a few years removed from looking like a potential Day 2 pick at Oklahoma, Calcaterra opted to medically retire due to concussions, but decided to come back and transfer to SMU. The Eagles have Dallas Goedert, so the need isn’t huge, but Calcaterra could develop into a reliable secondary pass catcher for the Eagles.
I mentioned in a few prior mock drafts that I thought Philadelphia should use some of their (then) many early picks on finding replacement talents for several aging veterans, and the Eagles did just that with the Davis and Jurgens selections.