The first round of the 2022 NFL draft is officially in the books, and Thursday night’s action was filled with trades and surprises.
Things were pretty quiet early on, with no trades among the top 10 selections, but a flurry of moves would follow. In addition to teams moving up and down the board, multiple veteran receivers found new homes throughout the league.
Along the way, some teams made the most of their selections, grabbing top prospects long after they should have been off the board, while other teams made head-scratching picks to kick off this year’s draft class.
Here are our picks for the biggest steals and reaches from the first round of the 2022 NFL draft:
STEAL | S Kyle Hamilton, Baltimore Ravens | No. 14 overall
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Widely regarded as perhaps the best overall prospect in the entire draft, Hamilton tumbled all the way to No. 14 overall, where the Ravens wisely snatched him up. While his slow 40-yard dash time might have scared off some teams, Hamilton’s impressive film shows more than enough explosiveness and athleticism do be a dynamic playmaker at the next level. He should have been a top-10 lock, and could prove to be the next great safety in Baltimore.
STEAL | EDGE Jermaine Johnson II, New York Jets | No. 26 overall
(AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)
Johnson was the most shocking faller Thursday night, a projected top-10 pick who was still on the board late in the first round. He was a popular projection for the Jets at No. 10 overall, but after spending their pair of top-10 picks elsewhere, the Jets traded back into the first round to snag Johnson, too. He fills a huge need for Robert Saleh’s defense, and could end up being the biggest heist of the entire draft.
REACH | WR Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders | No. 16 overall
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Moving back a few spots and adding extra picks was a solid move by Washington, and wide receiver was a clear need. That said, they passed up perhaps the best pass-catcher in the draft (Arkansas’ Treylon Burks), in favor of an undersized alternative who was widely considered a fringe first-rounder. Dotson is a solid prospect, but passing on Burks to make him a top-20 pick was a questionable move.
STEAL | LB Devin Lloyd, Jacksonville Jaguars | No. 27 overall
(AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)
After taking a high-ceiling edge rusher at No. 1 overall, the Jaguars made a bold move to trade back into the first round for another potential game-changer for their defense. Lloyd is the best off-ball linebacker in this year’s draft, and could have easily been a top-15 selection, thanks to his combination of size, athleticism, instincts and versatility. Getting him this late was a big win for the Jags as they continue their rebuild.
STEAL | QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers | No. 20 overall
(AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
This is less about where Pickett falls on our draft board, and more about how rare it is that a quarterback-needy team can sit as late as No. 20 overall, and still have a starting-caliber, pro-ready passer fall into their lap without having to trade up. The Steelers got their pick of this year’s quarterback class, and landed an immediate upgrade over Mitchell Trubisky, keeping Pickett in-state to usher in a new era at quarterback for the Steelers.
REACH | OL Cole Strange, New England Patriots | No. 29 overall
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Strange, indeed. After trading back eight spots with the Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots grabbed a versatile blocker who shined at the Senior Bowl, but was projected by most to come off the board toward the middle of Day 2, at best. The Pats definitely have a huge need at guard after trading away Shaq Mason for peanuts, but Strange feels like a player that shouldn’t have required their top pick, especially with the players who were available at other positions of need.