Monday, May 23, 2022

2022 NFL Draft: Jaguars’ Travon Walker, Cowboys’ Tyler Smith among most questionable picks by all 32 teams

Reflecting on the 2022 NFL Draft, there were still some questions to answer within some of these draft classes. Exploring the questionable picks of each team is more of an exercise in evaluating process and perceived value rather than criticism of the prospect. These are all microwave takes and will not be fully baked for another three years as we see how their careers pan out.

Without further ado, the most questionable pick for each NFL franchise in the 2022 NFL Draft:

Arizona Cardinals: Christian Matthew, CB

Round 7, No. 244 overall | College: Valdosta State

There is little issue with the players Arizona chose where it chose them. Matthew is the most questionable simply because I know the least about him. The worst decision made was to trade what amounted to the No. 29 overall selection for wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who will be asking for a new contract in the not-too-distant future.

Atlanta Falcons: Drake London, WR

Round 1, No. 8 overall | College: USC

London was not my top-rated wide receiver despite him being taken as the first. Again, there is no issue with Atlanta’s draft class. It got good value throughout the draft, but London was the biggest stretch relative to rankings and preference. It is easy to see the complications he and Kyle Pitts offer the opposition.

Baltimore Ravens: Tyler Linderbaum, C

Round 1, No. 25 overall | College: Iowa

Baltimore not only had one of the best drafts, but Linderbaum was one of my favorite prospects. As an undersized, athletic offensive lineman, he projected better to a wide-zone blocking scheme. Instead, he goes to more of a power/gap style that values heftier linemen like Orlando Brown Jr. and Daniel Faalele. Linderbaum has the edge to make this work, however.

Buffalo Bills: James Cook, RB

Round 2, No. 63 overall | College: Georgia

Calling a Georgia running back into question has been a poor strategy historically, but Cook is not as smooth of a runner as his brother, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. He can be an impact performer in the pass game, but the value did not match his placement. The Bills made the correct decision to wait on the running back position until Day 2 rather than drafting one in the first round, though.

Carolina Panthers: Matt Corral, QB

Round 3, No. 94 overall | College: Ole Miss

If Carolina had just taken Corral at No. 94 overall, there would have been zero problem with the selection, but they traded a future third-round pick. It is not even to say Corral is a bad player, but Day 2 quarterbacks often do not pan out. If the Panthers go through the season and determine neither Sam Darnold nor Corral are the quarterback of the future, then they traded an important draft pick when it comes to maneuvering for a franchise quarterback next year. 

Chicago Bears: Velus Jones Jr., WR

Round 3, No. 71 overall | College: Tennessee

Jones turns 25 years old on May 11. New Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown does not turn 25 until the end of June. With wide receivers coming off the board fast and furious, the Bears may have felt pressure to add one to aid Justin Fields, but the value was poor. The return specialist had what amounts of one year of production during his time with Tennessee and USC.

Cincinnati Bengals: Zachary Carter, DL

Round 3, No. 95 overall | College: Florida

Cincinnati probably felt a little pressure to add a little more depth to that defensive line, but Carter was not good value at that spot. He could add a little bit more weight and become an interior specific player. The Bengals should not be expecting a lot of pass rush. 

Cleveland Browns: Martin Emerson, CB

Round 3, No. 68 overall | College: Mississippi State

The Browns did not take any large outliers one way or another. Emerson was probably more of a stretch at the time of the selection. It was difficult to understand where they had room considering the presence of Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, Greg Newsome II and Troy Hill. They had bigger needs, but Emerson’s selection allowed Cleveland to trade Hill back to Los Angeles.

Dallas Cowboys: Tyler Smith, OT

Round 1, No. 24 overall | College: Tulsa

Smith was not a first-round value based on what he has shown to this point, but it is an easy choice to understand. Rather than investing in an older prospect, Dallas elected to take a younger prospect who plays the game with ferocity. Offensive linemen had just come off the board, and the Cowboys were at risk of missing out on the position if they did not act quickly.

Denver Broncos: Nik Bonitto, EDGE

Round 2, No. 64 overall | College: Oklahoma

There were not a bunch of reaches in Denver’s draft class. It made the most of its limited resources. At this stage, Bonitto is more of a pass-rush specialist rather than an every-down player, which is what teams should be looking to add in the second round. It is an argument of value and expectations. It will be interesting to see how Randy Gregory, Bradley Chubb and Bonitto are used together this fall. 

Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE

Round 1, No. 2 overall | College: Michigan

General manager Brad Holmes had a very nice 2022 NFL Draft. The move up to select Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams was initially on my radar as a bad decision, but the Lions got a good deal. They were not a wide receiver away from contention, but trading up for the top-rated wide receiver to support Jared Goff is not a bad idea.

Green Bay Packers: Christian Watson, WR

Round 2, No. 34 overall | College: North Dakota State

Green Bay needed to add to the wide receiver room. Despite having two first-round selections, it was not high enough to get involved on the run at the position. Watson was one of the best testers in the draft class, and the Packers are banking on him becoming a competent role player for them. It was a bit of a reach relative to the rankings. The trade up cost the team both of its second-round selections.

Houston Texans: John Metchie III, WR

Round 2, No. 44 overall | College: Alabama

It sounds like a cop out, but these teams did a relatively good job of sticking to the board. Metchie was a bit of an outlier to me because he fights the ball a bit down the field. Combined with his injury history, his value was later on Day 2 for me. Houston has now taken a chance on a few Day 2 wide receivers over the last few years with Nico Collins and Metchie. The Texans are doing their due diligence in regards to giving Davis Mills a chance to prove himself this season.

Indianapolis Colts: Jelani Woods, TE

Round 3, No. 73 overall | College: Virginia

Woods had a lot of buzz during the pre-draft process. He is a long, athletic tight end who is still developing after arriving at Oklahoma State as a quarterback. It was too early to select a project, even if the thought process of adding outlets for veteran quarterback Matt Ryan was sound. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, EDGE

Round 1, No. 1 overall | College: Georgia

The article is most questionable pick and not worst pick. To say with any level of certainty that Walker is going to play to the level generally expected of a No. 1 overall selection would be misguided. The idea of adding a prospect with the size and athletic profile to reach those expectations makes sense, but it certainly carries risk. Walker is a high-floor run defender who would ideally cultivate a better pass-rush plan.

Kansas City Chiefs: Bryan Cook, S

Round 2, No. 62 overall | College: Cincinnati

It is difficult to be critical of Kansas City’s draft when it had some of my favorites selections in George Karlaftis, Skyy Moore and Darian Kinnard. General manager Brett Veach did well to supplement the defensive side of the ball with five of the team’s first six selections, but Cook did not carry that level of value to me. 

Las Vegas Raiders: Brittain Brown, RB

Round 7, No. 250 overall | College: UCLA

The only selection that was considered a bit of a reach was that of Brown. It was also the idea of taking a second running back when the team has Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake and Brandon Bolden. If a seventh-round pick is considered a team’s most questionable, then they probably did pretty well. 

Los Angeles Chargers: JT Woods, S

Round 3, No. 79 overall | College: Baylor

Woods was part of that track team at Baylor. Los Angeles has significantly upgraded the secondary this offseason with the addition of J.C. Jackson and now Woods, but the latter was not the best value on the board at the time. Illinois’ Kerby Joseph was taken later, and I had a higher grade on him despite him not having the same athletic profile as Woods.

Los Angeles Rams: Daniel Hardy, EDGE

Round 7, No. 235 overall | College: Montana State

Los Angeles did not have a selection until No. 104 overall, so it is difficult to find a questionable choice. Hardy is the prospect who was lesser known coming into the weekend, so that is the choice here. The Rams needed help at that position. 

Miami Dolphins: Channing Tindall, LB

Round 3, No. 102 overall | College: Georgia

Tindall has a lot of room for growth. He is a physical player with the speed to play sideline to sideline but coverage is a concern. His value was a little lower to me, but his positioning on this list has more to do with options being limited. The Dolphins only had four selections during the draft.

Minnesota Vikings: Ed Ingram, OL

Round 2, No. 59 overall | College: LSU

The Ingram selection was interesting for a few reasons. There were better value options on the board at the time. UCLA’s Sean Rhyan would have been a good fit. Ingram is more of a leverage player with limited athletic ability. A wide-zone blocking scheme is not where I would have thought Ingram would have landed. 

New England Patriots: Tyquan Thornton, WR

Round 2, No. 50 overall | College: Baylor

Most probably expected Chattanooga interior offensive lineman Cole Strange being the choice here, but Thornton was a bigger reach in my eyes. He is a fast, tall and lean pass catcher. Will Mac Jones hit him on Go routes? He is unpolished in other phases of the game, so it was a surprising choice. 

New Orleans Saints: Chris Olave, WR

Round 1, No. 11 overall | College: Ohio State

Olave is a good player, and I hate that he is cast in a different light considering the situation. New Orleans went all in to compete this season and that is poor processing. Without Sean Payton and Drew Brees, the upcoming season is going to be a learning experience for the organization. The Saints sold the farm to make the Olave selection happen, and it will be nearly impossible for him to live up to those expectations. 

New York Giants: Wan’Dale Robinson, WR

Round 2, No. 43 overall | College: Kentucky

Robinson is a dynamic player who operates faster in space than his 40-yard dash time would indicate. His range is a bit limited and he is always going to be compared to the wide receivers picked after him, specifically Skyy Moore. Moore is afforded the chance to play with Patrick Mahomes, and his production should be high as a result. Meanwhile, New York has Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard and Robinson on the roster. It would be a surprise if all of those players were on the roster in Week 1.

New York Jets: Micheal Clemons, EDGE

Round 4, No. 117 overall | College: Texas A&M

The Jets had one of my favorite draft classes despite being done in the fourth round. Clemons is the only player who was a bit of a reach on my board, but his improvement from 2020 to 2021 justifies the chance. He has great size and produced his best pass rushing season to date. 

Philadelphia Eagles: Cam Jurgens, C

Round 2, No. 51 overall | College: Nebraska

Again, the topic is questionable picks and not worst picks. Jurgens is a bit ra,  but his athleticism will give him a chance. The Nebraska product was ranked lower on my board, but the endorsement and investment from Jason Kelce would have me excited as an Eagles fan. Philadelphia added eventual replacements for stalwarts Fletcher Cox and Kelce in this class.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Chris Oladokun, QB

Round 7, No. 241 overall | College: South Dakota State

The team’s first four picks all have question marks, but it is difficult to argue with the value Pittsburgh got in each spot. The plan with Oladokun will be interesting. He is an older prospect who is unfinished as a quarterback. Will they use him in a gadget role? The Steelers already have Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and Pickett on the roster.

San Francisco 49ers: Tyrion Davis-Price, RB

Round 3, No. 93 overall | College: LSU

San Francisco’s offense revolves around the run game and the creative usage of Deebo Samuel. Davis-Price was valued more as a mid-to-late Day 3 prospect. His selection could be viewed as an example of the organization’s lack of faith in Trey Sermon. The 49ers just drafted Elijah Mitchell and Sermon last season. It was too early to take another running back unless they know more than the public about what they already have in that room. 

Seattle Seahawks: None

In recent months, I have been critical of Seattle’s seemingly lack of a plan and recent draft history. Credit is given where credit is due, as the Seahawks invested in premier positions like offensive line, edge rusher and cornerback. It was easy to see their plan, and they received good value with each choice. Unless they are totally hitting the reset button and playing out the season with the expectation of taking a quarterback next year, I would expect them to consider Baker Mayfield once again. Mayfield is better than the options on the roster but may uplift the roster enough to hurt the team’s positioning in next year’s draft class. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jake Camarda, P

Round 4, No. 133 overall | College: Georgia

I’ll defer to CBS Sports’ John Breech on this one. Breech has a much better grasp of specialist play than I and his point was that Camarda might have been the fifth-best punter in this draft class. The Georgia product was the second punter off the board in the fourth round before San Diego State’s Matt Araiza and N.C. State’s Trenton Gill

Tennessee Titans: Theo Jackson, S

Round 6, No. 204 overall | College: Tennessee

The decision to trade star wide receiver A.J. Brown can be critiqued from sunset to sun down, but the Titans found good value through most of the draft. Jackson was the most questionable pick for Tennessee simply because little was known about him prior to the selection. There is nothing wrong with adding depth to the secondary late on Day 3, though.

Washington Commanders: Jahan Dotson, WR

Round 1, No. 16 overall | College: Penn State

Dotson is a good football player capable of attacking all three levels of the field. Although undersized, he shows strong hands and no tentativeness through traffic. Washington could ultimately be correct in its assessment of Dotson, but Alabama’s Jameson Williams, Ohio State’s Chris Olave and Arkansas’ Treylon Burks were all higher-rated players for CBS Sports. The Commanders had an opportunity to select any of those players at No. 11 overall but elected to trade down where they selected Dotson. 

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