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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.