Round 1 of the NFL Draft was insane with a flurry of trades of not just draft picks, but star players as well. There were also some head scratching picks and then historically poor drafting teams knocking it out of the park. We’ll break down each selection in the 1st round and the initial grade the team receives for that pick.
#1: Jacksonville Jaguars – Travon Walker, DL, Georgia
The Jaguars went with defensive lineman Travon Walker out of Georgia. This was a solid choice. Walker was part of the National Championship winning defense. We would’ve preferred to see Hutchinson or Thibodeaux go here instead.
Jacksonville Jaguars Grade: B
#2: Detroit Lions – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Hutchinson doesn’t have to travel very far as the Lions quickly grabbed him after the Jaguars passed on the future star.
Detroit Lions Grade: A
#3: Houston Texans – Derek Stingley Jr, CB, LSU
The Texans drafted Stingley Jr with the 3rd overall pick. 3 is also the same amount of years it’s been since Stingley Jr last had an interception in a collegiate game. This pick left us scratching our heads as they should’ve gone with an offensive lineman or a defensive lineman in this spot, but went for a defensive back. On top of that, they didn’t even get the best back in this class as Kyle Hamilton and Ahmad Gardner were available.
Houston Texans Grade: C-
#4: New York Jets – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The Jets get their best cornerback since the days of Darrelle Revis and Revis Island. Coach Saleh was ecstatic to get Sauce Gardner as he should be after the whiff the Texans did right before them.
New York Jets Grade: A
#5: New York Giants – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
With picks at #5 & #7, the Giants had to be strategic about which player they wanted to take with the #5 spot in case the other player they wanted was stolen by Carolina. The Giants went with Thibodeaux at #5 and after being a potential top 3 pick, they were pretty pleased with this selection.
New York Giants Grade: A-
#6: Carolina Panthers – Ikem Ekonwu, OL, NC State
Carolina was rumored to be taking a quarterback with this selection, but instead went for an offensive tackle. The Panthers could go QB on day 2, but wanted someone who can slot in day 1 to protect their future QB they get. This was a smart choice by the Panthers to not overpay for a quarterback.
Carolina Panthers Grade: B+
#7: New York Giants – Evan Neal, OL, Alabama
The Giants could’ve easily gone with Evan Neal with the 5th overall pick, but opted for Thibodeaux to let the Panthers make the choice as the Giants would’ve been happy with any one of the 3 top lineman in this class. The Giants decided to wait instead and still ended up with the top lineman in the class which they desperately need to keep Saquon Barkley healthy.
New York Giants Grade: A
#8: Atlanta Falcons – Drake London, WR, USC
With Russell Gage leaving in free agency, Julio Jones long out of the picture, and Calvin Ridley being suspended for the season, the Falcons were looking to fill the massive hole and went with London. London is talented, but we’d rather have one of the Ohio State products over the streaky London.
Atlanta Falcons Grade: B-
#9: Seattle Seahawks – Charles Cross, OL, Mississippi State
Seahawks opt for an offensive lineman over a defensive spot to work on protecting the future quarterback even though they struggled to protect Russell Wilson when they had him. If the Seahawks get their quarterback later in the draft, this pick would’ve been worth it.
Seattle Seahawks Grade: B+
#10: New York Jets – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The Jets are in disbelief after landing the best wide receiver of the draft in the #10 spot. Garrett Wilson was a huge steal for the Jets as they give Zach Wilson much needed help.
New York Jets Grade: A+
#11: New Orleans Saints – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The New Orleans Saints traded up with the Washington Commanders to snag the other star receiver at Ohio State in Chris Olave. With Michael Thomas still recovering, the Saints are uncertain of his future if he’ll ever be the same again. The Saints are trying to repair the pieces of their offense and getting a rookie receiver was a smart move.
New Orleans Saints Grade: B+
#12: Detroit Lions – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
After the Saints traded up, the Detroit Lions went ahead and did the same exact thing. The Lions also grabbed a wide receiver in speed demon Jameson Williams. Amon-Ra St. Brown was a huge surprise for the Lions, but outside of him and Hockenson, Lions have a clear lack of talent in receivers. They need to continue to work on their lowly defense, but after landing Hutchinson, the Lions could afford this luxury.
Detroit Lions Grade: B
#13: Philadelphia Eagles – Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
The Eagles must have had their concerns with the Texans or Ravens in going for Jordan Davis and moved up 2 spots giving away a later pick in the process. We disagree with the move and think they still would have gotten Davis at #15.
Philadelphia Eagles Grade: B-
#14: Baltimore Ravens – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
The Ravens patiently waited and hit a home run of a pick getting Kyle Hamilton who should have been a top 3 pick all the way at #14. The Ravens could not pass up this golden opportunity.
Baltimore Ravens Grade: A+
#15: Houston Texans – Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
Offensive line was a priority for the Texans, but they should have picked this position 1st with one of the better talents available and probably could have gotten Stingley Jr. with this pick which they instead used for an offensive lineman that should have gone in the 2nd round. The Texans way overpay once again.
Houston Texans Grade: D
#16: Washington Commanders – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Earlier in the offseason, the Commanders traded for Carson Wentz as they don’t believe in Ryan Fitzpatrick or Taylor Heinicke for much longer. Terry McLaurin has been the lone wide receiver threat on the Commanders for the last couple years and he needs someone to complement him on the other side badly. The Commanders took Dotson but we would’ve preferred Burks or Watson.
Washington Commanders Grade: C+
#17: Los Angeles Chargers – Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College
The Chargers improved significantly in the offseason on defense with acquisitions of JC Jackson and Khalil Mack. The Chargers don’t need to spend this pick on defense as they addressed their 2 biggest defensive needs and could use this to improve their offensive line protecting franchise quarterback Justin Herbert even further. Johnson is talented, but there’s a couple other offensive lineman we had ranked higher.
Los Angeles Chargers Grade: B+
#18: Tennessee Titans – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
In shocking news, the Titans traded away star wide receiver AJ Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles in a move that we’re still in disbelief over. AJ Brown was one of the best players on the Titans and should have paid the money to keep him on the team. Treylon Burks might surprise us, but Brown was supposed to be a staple on the team for years to come.
Tennessee Titans Grade: D+
#19: New Orleans Saints – Trevor Penning, OL, Northern Iowa
After trading up earlier to get a receiver, the Saints continue the offensive rebuild getting an offensive lineman to replace Pro Bowl lineman Terron Armstead. The Saints do get one of the best remaining playing damage control.
New Orleans Saints Grade: B+
#20: Pittsburgh Steelers – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Ben Roethlisberger finally retired after the 2021 season and the Steelers starting quarterback job was left up for grabs. After spending some time in Buffalo as a backup, Mitch Trubisky signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers hoping for the starting job to prove he still has it in him. For Trubisky, that unfortunately is probably not going to end up being the case as the Steelers went with pro-ready prospect Kenny Pickett. Fans were ecstatic as Pickett brings new life into a club who’s been dealing with an aging Roethlisberger for years.
Pittsburgh Steelers Grade: B+
#21: Kansas City Chiefs – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
With a couple other teams also with secondary needs, the Chiefs moved up a few spots with the Patriots and selected Washington corner Trent McDuffie. Washington is nicknamed Cornerback University for good reason and the Chiefs landed a gem.
Kansas City Chiefs Grade: B+
#22: Green Bay Packers – Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
After 6 receivers were selected already, the Packers decided to not go with a receiver here and go for a linebacker which wasn’t even their biggest need on defense. This was a very questionable choice with players at multiple other positions open like Christian Watson, Kaair Elam, and Jermaine Johnson.
Green Bay Packers Draft Grade: D
#23: Buffalo Bills – Kaair Elam, DB, Florida
The Bills moved up 2 spots to stop Dallas from getting the defensive back that the Bills had their eyes on in Kaair Elam. The Bills could’ve overpaid for a running back here, but instead get a huge asset that should improve their secondary from the start. The Bills will seek to get someone like Breece Hall, Kenneth Walker or Isaiah Spiller later on in the draft.
Buffalo Bills Grade: A-
#24: Dallas Cowboys – Tyler Smith, OL, Tulsa
Jerry Jones does it again and reverts back on their draft success from last year. Jerry Jones left us all scratching our heads after this one. We knew the Cowboys wanted a lineman, maybe Jones had the wrong Tyler and wanted Linderbaum, that is the only logical conclusion we can make with this pick.
Dallas Cowboys Grade: D-
#25: Baltimore Ravens – Tyler Linderbaum, OL, Iowa
In another surprising draft day trade, the Baltimore Ravens traded away top receiver Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals and received the Cardinals 1st round draft pick as a result. This was a move that was unexpectedly disappointing not just for Ravens fans but Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson himself was wondering why. In return for Brown, the Ravens used the top pick on an interior offensive lineman. The Ravens do need more but we’re sad to see Brown go, the Cardinals got a steal and an upgrade to Christian Kirk.
Baltimore Ravens Grade: B-
#26: New York Jets – Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
The Jets traded up to be able to have 3 picks in the 1st round when they saw how much Jermaine Johnson II had fallen and sniped him. The Jets knocked it out of the park this draft with Gardner, Wilson, and Johnson II bringing new life to the franchise.
New York Jets Grade: A
#27: Jacksonville Jaguars – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
The Jaguars also moved up to get another player they were surprised to see still available in Devin Lloyd. The Jaguars walk away from the 1st round with a capable starting defensive tackle and linebacker.
Jacksonville Jaguars Grade: A-
#28: Green Bay Packers – Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia
We are at a loss of words for this pick. They left with 0 receivers in the 1st round in one of the deepest classes we’ve seen.
Green Bay Packers Grade: D
#29: New England Patriots – Cole Strange, OL, Chattanooga
We know Belichick likes to pick players from smaller schools who are overlooked, but reaching for Cole Strange in the 1st round was unnecessary. This was a bit comical to other coaches around the league including Sean McVay who said they were targeting him in the late 3rd when the Pats grabbed him in the 1st.
New England Patriots Grade: D-
#30: Kansas City Chiefs – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
With one of the worst pass rushing attacks in 2021, the Chiefs find a stud in the Greek Freak of the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs Grade: A
#31: Cincinnati Bengals – Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
After the collapse we saw in the Super Bowl, the Bengals get one of the top safeties in the class in Daxton Hill.
Cincinnati Bengals Grade: A-
#32: Minnesota Vikings – Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
After trading down in the trade with division rival Detroit Lions, the Vikings select a safety out of Georgia after just missing on Daxton Hill. The Vikings lose this trade since they didn’t get a great return from where they were before.