By Tim Peterson
If nothing else it was unique. While the experts looked at the 2022 NFL draft as the least talented group of players in years that’s actually what made it more intriguing.
There wasn’t a clear cut number one pick or a potential superstar, whether it be a quarterback or not. There really wasn’t any highly rated quarterbacks at all, no franchise changing pick that’s going to tilt the field and turn a last place team into a Super Bowl contender.
No star power on the board led to some interesting things. The first five picks of the draft with all defensive players which is the first time that has happened since 1991. Oregon defensive end Kavon Thibodeaux, who was tabbed by some after his freshman year to be the number one pick, was taken fifth by the New York Giants. A guy who is called “Sauce” – Gardner, a cornerback from Cincinnati, was the fourth pick by the New York Jets. A sportswriter’s dream as you can see the headlines now. If he has a good game the Jets will be “hot sauce”, if he struggles, it will be said he has been “hitting the sauce.”
The early buzz was that Detroit would do something crazy and break the defensive theme by taking a quarterback but they stayed in line drafting Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson at number two.
The quarterbacks weren’t on display early but the wide receivers sure were. A local kid from USC, Drake London, started it all off by going number eight to Atlanta. Then Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave went 10 and 11 to the Jets and New Orleans respectively followed by Jameson Williams to Detroit with the 12th pick. The Lions traded up 20 spots to get the Alabama star.
While a lot of talk surrounded Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, Pitt’s Kenny Pickett was the first quarterback taken when Pittsburgh selected him at number 20. Great story…local boy stays home. By the way was there ever more made of the size of somebody’s hands? Sure, large hands would be beneficial to the success of a quarterback, better grip, possibly more accurate, etc. I get it…but it seemed to be overkill by the media. I can’t remember the last time it was said that a quarterback failed because his hands were too small. Another headline possibility? “Pickett hands the Browns a loss.”
In the second round the Steelers took receiver George Pickens from Georgia giving them the Pickett to Pickens connection.
Locally the Rams (F them picks!) were nowhere to be found in the first few rounds but the Chargers did get guard Zion Johnson from Boston College with the 20th pick in the first round. You can never go wrong with an offensive lineman.
New England had a strange pick, guard Cole Strange from Chattanooga, another headline? with the 29th pick. Strange was projected much lower. In fact, Rams head coach Sean McVay mentioned that they were possibly looking at him at 104. But of course, since it was the Patriots, people are thinking, “Wait, was that a good pick?”
Green Bay had two first round picks but still didn’t take a wide receiver as they focused on the defense. The Packers hopefully made Aaron Rodgers happy when they took North Dakota wide receiver Christian Watson with the 34th overall pick in the second round.
The rest of the quarterbacks finally did go later in the draft. Three of them went in the third round. Desmond Ritter of Cincinnati went to the Falcons and 12 picks later Willis was taken by the Tennessee Titans. Matt Corral of Mississippi was drafted late in the third round by the Carolina Panthers. Finally Sam Howell of North Carolina had to wait until the fifth round to be picked up by the Washington Commanders. Yes, The Football Team is now the Commanders. Given the current state of the quarterbacks for those teams all four will be competing for the starting position.
It turned out to be a big weekend for the Bulldogs. Georgia had 15 players selected in the seven-round draft, which is the most ever from one school. Defensive end Travon Walker led the charge as the number one overall pick by Jacksonville.
The Rams went O-Line at 104 grabbing Wisconsin right guard Logan Bruss. They expect him to compete immediately.
Nice to see former St. Francis tight end Greg Dulcich heading to the NFL. Dulcich, who went on to UCLA after high school, was drafted in the third round, number 80 overall, by the Denver Broncos. It seems like just yesterday we were covering him and the Golden Knights at Friedman Field.
When all was said and done Las Vegas put on quite a show. Some of the pomp and circumstance was over the top and was all that live music really necessary? But hey it’s Vegas. I would have expected nothing less.
And although at times it seemed strange Sin City had big enough hands to handle all of that sauce.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tspeterson40 or Facebook – Tim Peterson.