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NFL

Every NFL franchise’s best 2022 Draft pick: Raiders to Commanders

In a two-part series, NFL expert Iván Pirrón singles out the most promising pick made by each team in the 2022 Draft.

Update:
In a two-part series, NFL expert Iván Pirrón singles out the most promising pick made by each team in the 2022 Draft.
David BeckerAFP

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

Matthew Butler, DT, Tennessee

Fifth round, 175th overall pick

The Raiders only had six picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, but in the fifth round they found Butler, who adds depth to their defence. He can play as a tackle or a defensive end. His final season with the Volunteers was his best in terms of statistics, with 8.5 tackles in the backfield and five sacks. He’ll start training camp in the second team, but may not take long to earn himself more game time.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Zion Johnson, G, Boston College

First round, 17th overall pick

Johnson is the final piece in the Chargers’ rebuilt offensive line (the tackle Rashawn Slater was recruited in the first round of the 2021 Draft). He will not only help to offer improved protection to Justin Herbert, but will also to bolster the rushing offence. He is expected to be the starting right guard from the preseason.

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Decobie Durant, DB, South Carolina State

Fourth round, 142nd overall pick

The Super Bowl champions didn’t get their first pick until the third round, and none of their rookies look ready to be a starter in September. In Durant’s case, he’ll compete with Troy Hill from training camp to play in the slot.

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia

Third round, 102nd overall pick

The Dolphins’ situation is similar to the Rams’: their first pick came in the third round, and that means it’s tough to see any of their new recruits in a starting role when the regular season begins. In Miami’s depth chart, Tindall is behind Elandon Roberts, who was third in the team in 2021 with 83 tackles.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Andrew Booth, DB, Clemson

Second round, 42nd overall pick

Booth is one of the two rookie defensive backs that could be a starter for the Vikings from preseason. The other is the safety Lewis Cine (Georgia, first round, 32nd pick). Booth, who has an aggressive playing style, will have the luxury of learning from the veteran Patrick Peterson, who for many years was among the best there is at cornerback.

See also:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Marcus Jones, DB, Houston

Third round, 85th overall pick

Bill Belichick may well have pulled off the steal of the Draft with the first-round selection of guard Cole Strange, but if that doesn’t turn out to be the case, Jones could be the 2022 New England pick we all remember. The Patriots’ perimeter is no longer one of the best in the league and will go into training camp with Malcom Butler, Jonathan Jones and Terrance Mitchell at cornerback, so Jones will have the chance to compete and earn game time.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

First round, 11th overall pick

No-one knows what kind of shape Michael Thomas will return in, but even the most optimistic observer is aware that his days in New Orleans are numbered. So recruiting a wide receiver was a must. Olave (2,702 yards and 35 touchdowns in four seasons with the Buckeyes) brings speed and verticality to the Saints’ offence.

Chris Olave poses onstage after being selected 11th by the New Orleans Saints during round one of the 2022 NFL Draft.
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Chris Olave poses onstage after being selected 11th by the New Orleans Saints during round one of the 2022 NFL Draft.David BeckerAFP

NEW YORK GIANTS

Cordale Flott, DB, Louisiana State

Third round, 81st overall pick

Kayvon Thibodeaux, the fifth overall pick, is clearly a player likely to have an immediate impact, but Flott is a cornerback that could also be a starter from the get-go, on the opposite side to Adoree’ Jackson. Flott will compete for that starting spot in training camp with Darnay Holmes.

NEW YORK JETS

Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

Second round, 36th overall pick

The Jets did great work in the Draft, bringing in at least four new starters. They include Hall, the first running back picked in 2022. He is a complete player who can also contribute as a target for Zach Wilson in New York’s passing offence. In three years with the Cyclones, he ran for 3,941 yards (an average of 5.5 per attempt) and 50 touchdowns. He also registered 82 receptions, receiving for 734 yards and six TDs.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Third round, 83rd overall pick

It’s likely that Dean will have to wait to be a starter in Jonathan Gannon’s defence, but the former Bulldog can do everything: defend against runners, pressure the quarterback, or drop deeper to provide cover. His final year in Georgia was spectacular, with 10.5 tackles in the backfield, six sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

George Pickens, WR, Georgia

Second round, 52nd overall pick

The supporters will want to see Kenny Pickett as a starter straight away, but that process will take time, unless Mitchell Trubisky gets injured. That’s why our choice is Pickens, who could start the season in the slot. In his final campaign with the Bulldogs, Pickens suffered a knee-ligament injury in preseason and was never at 100%. If his knee doesn’t cause him problems, the Steelers will have an excellent corps of wide receivers, with Pickens joining the veterans Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Danny Gray, WR, Southern Methodist

Third round, 105th overall pick

With Deebo Samuel potentially on his way out of the franchise, Gray could get his opportunity sooner rather than later in San Francisco. In his second and last year with the Mustangs, Gray registered 49 receptions, 803 yards (an average of 16.4 per catch) and nine touchdowns. He doesn’t have Samuel’s versatility, but he’s a lad with great plays in him.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Logan Hall, DE, Houston

Second round, 33rd overall pick

The Bucs needed to strengthen their defensive line and used their first Draft pick to select Hall, who is expected to be a starter from training camp, joining Vita Vea and William Gholston in Tampa Bay’s 3-4 defence. Hall had a solid final year with the Cougars, with 13 tackles in the backfield and six sacks. Under Todd Bowles, Kacy Rodgers and Larry Foote, he could end up being a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

TENNESSEE TITANS

Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

First round, 18th overall pick

The Titans sprang a surprise in the Draft when they sent A.J. Brown to Philadelphia, but immediately brought in a player they think can take his place. Burks can do everything Brown did at Tennessee, and a little more besides, as he was the Deebo Samuel of the Razorbacks. In his last season in college football, he totalled 66 receptions, 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns, and ran for 112 yards and one TD.

Treylon Burks con Arkansas
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Treylon Burks is tasked with replacing A.J. Brown at the Tennessee Titans.Wesley HittGetty Images

WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

First round, 16th overall pick

The Commanders needed to give Carson Wentz more weapons, and recruiting a wide receiver was essential. Dotson is the ideal foil for Terry McLaurin, who has produced despite the merry-go-round of quarterbacks in Washington. Dotson finished his four-year career with the Nittany Lions with a campaign that brought 91 receptions, 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns. Numbers that are more than acceptable for a WR2 in the NFL.

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