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NFL

Every NFL team’s best 2022 Draft pick: Cardinals to Chiefs

In a two-part series, AS’ Iván Pirrón looks at the best selections made by each NFL franchise in April’s 2022 Draft in Las Vegas.

Update:
In a two-part series, AS’ Iván Pirrón looks at the best selections made by each NFL franchise in April’s 2022 Draft in Las Vegas.
David BeckerAFP

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cameron Thomas, DE, San Diego State

Third round, 87th overall pick

Thomas will be used as an outside linebacker in Arizona’s 3-4 defence, and will compete at training camp with Markus Golden. In his last season with the Aztecs, Cameron registered 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

Third round, 74th overall pick

The Falcons were patient, waiting until the third round to recruit a player who is probably their next franchise quarterback. Ridder, however, isn’t yet ready to be a starter in the NFL. For the moment, Marcus Mariota will be first-choice QB, until the Cincinnati product acquires greater accuracy and learns to stop missing so many routine passes.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

First round, 25th overall pick

The Ravens’ offensive line has a new leader. Linderbaum is an athlete whose technique and speed have led to comparisons with former Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, a nine-time Pro Bowler who was named in five All-Pro teams.

See also:

BUFFALO BILLS

James Cook, RB, Georgia

Second round, 63rd overall pick

Cook adds depth to the Bills’ options at running back, and offers quarterback Josh Allen a new passing target. Cook caught 67 passes in his last season with the Bulldogs, registering 730 yards and six touchdowns.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Matt Corral, QB, Mississippi

Third round, 94th overall pick

Just like Atlanta, the Panthers bided their time to recruit Corral, who in his first year in the NFL could be used as a ‘gadget quarterback’ - i.e., for certain situations and with the option of running the ball. In his final season with Ole Miss, he ran for 614 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Quarterback Matt Corral, who was selected by the Carolina Panthers.
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Quarterback Matt Corral, who was selected by the Carolina Panthers.Sean GardnerGetty Images

CHICAGO BEARS

Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington

Second round, 39th overall pick

Gordon and the safety Jaquan Brisker (second round, 48th pick) should be starters in the Bears’ defence from the get-go in the regular season. Gordon is considered one of the best and most complete athletes in the class of 2022, and because of that he can also play in the slot.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Zachary Carter, DT, Florida

Third round, 95th overall pick

It’s true that the safety Daxton Hill (first round, 31st pick) could displace Vonn Bell as a starter, but Carter will be a highly valuable part of the Bengals’ rotation. In his last season with the Gators, he accrued 11.5 tackles in the backfield and seven sacks. BJ Hill is the starter, but Carter will earn his game time and the team will reap the rewards.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

David Bell, WR, Purdue

Third round, 99th overall pick

Bell, who registered 93 receptions, 1,286 yards and six touchdowns in his last year with the Boilermakers, is the perfect foil for Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones in the Browns’ revamped group of wide receivers, who are now under the orders of Deshaun Watson. It’s likely Bell will be used in the slot, as he doesn’t have the speed to play on the opposite side to Cooper.

DALLAS COWBOYS

Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama

Third round, 88th overall pick

After losing Cooper in the free-agency period, Jerry Jones had to find a WR2 to accompany CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. Tolbert completed two spectacular years with the Jaguars, where he amassed 2,560 yards and 16 touchdowns. His selection could well go down as one of the masterstrokes of the 2022 Draft.

DENVER BRONCOS

Nik Bonitto, LB, Oklahoma

Second round, 64th overall pick

Bonitto will struggle to be a starter in September (he has Randy Gregory in front of him), but defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero could use him in straight-passing situations. In his last two seasons with the Sooners, he accumulated 26.5 tackles for loss and 16 sacks.

DETROIT LIONS

Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

First round, second overall pick

The Jacksonville Jaguars could regret not using their first overall pick to select Hutchinson, who registered 14 sacks and 16.5 tackles for the Wolverines in 2021. He’ll be a starter in the Detroit defence right from training camp, and will form a promising partnership with Michael Brockers, who joined the Lions in 2021 via a trade with the Los Angeles Rams.

Aidan Hutchinson poses onstage after being selected second by the Detroit Lions.
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Aidan Hutchinson poses onstage after being selected second by the Detroit Lions.David BeckerAFP

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia

First round, 28th overall pick

Together with ILB Quay Walker, also a Bulldogs product, the Packers found two new defensive starters in the first round of the Draft. Wyatt, who picked up five sacks in Georgia, could play as an end in the 3-4 Green Bay defence, with Kenny Clark at nose tackle and Dean Lowry on the other side.

HOUSTON TEXANS

Jalen Pitre, DB, Baylor

Second round, 37th overall pick

In CB Derek Stingley and G Kenyon Green, the Texans have recruited two potential starters, but Pitre has caught my eye because the Bears used him as a safety, in the slot and even as a kind of outside linebacker to pressure the quarterback. He finished the 2021 season with 18.5 tackles for loss and seven passes defended. Coach Lovie Smith ought to have a plan to make the most of this defensive back’s versatility.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati

Second round, 53rd overall pick

The Colts were one of the nine teams that didn’t have a first-round pick, but in the second they opted to give veteran Matt Ryan a new target. Pierce can be expected to start the regular season on the opposite flank to Michael Pittman. In his final year with the Bearcats, he caught 59 passes for 884 yards and eight touchdowns. His speed makes him Indianapolis’ new deep threat.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Travon Walker, LB, Georgia

First round, first overall pick

Walker, who typically played as a defensive lineman in Georgia, will be used as an outside linebacker in the Jacksonville defence. It’s a position he isn’t unfamiliar with, having also operated in the role with the Bulldogs. His numbers aren’t spectacular, however: he managed just 9.5 sacks in three years in Georgia, including six in 2021.

Travon Walker con Georgia
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The Jaguars chose Travon Walker over Aidan Hutchinson.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue

First round, 30th overall pick

Karlaftis is expected to be a starter right from training camp, next to Chris Jones and Frank Clark. In the two complete seasons he played with the Boilermakers, he registered 27 tackles in the backfield and 12 sacks. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo could also use him as a defensive tackle if needed.

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