2022 NFL Draft Facts and Figures

In a year that has already seen an unusual number of trades involving draft picks — and will no doubt see even more such trades once the draft begins on Thursday evening — here is what you need to know about the 2022 NFL draft up to this point.

Eight teams — the Jets, Texans, Chiefs, Giants, Eagles, Lions, Packers, and Saints — will have two selections in the first round, while eight teams — the Dolphins, Browns, Colts, Broncos, Raiders, Bears, Rams, and 49ers — will lack a first-round pick.

Indeed, the Dolphins, Raiders and Rams will not have a pick in the second round either, a highly relevant fact because only one team in the Super Bowl era — the 2002 Buccaneers — has ever won the Super Bowl after not having had a pick in either of the first two rounds of that year's draft. The Rams will make their first pick at number 104 overall (a compensatory pick at the end of the third round) — the latest that any team has made their initial pick since the Raiders selected Tennessee quarterback Jeff Francis at number 140 overall (in the sixth round!) in the 1989 draft (this will be the sixth consecutive year that the Rams have lacked a first-round pick — a drought that will reach seven in 2023 unless the Rams trade for such a pick, for the longest such streak since Washington had no first-round pick for 11 years in a row, from 1969 through 1979, all inclusive).

So many trades have been made in the first three rounds of the 2022 draft that only eight teams — the Bills, Patriots, Bengals, Steelers, Cowboys, Vikings, Buccaneers, and Cardinals — will be making only the picks to which their 2021 finish entitle them, no more, no less.

Even though linemen on both sides of the ball figure to dominate the top 10 picks (with not a single running back projected to go anywhere in the first round), speculation abounds as to what quarterbacks might come off the board early, with the teams rumored to be interested in them trading up if necessary: in the wake of the tragic death of Dwayne Haskins, Jr., the Steelers might not be able to resist the temptation to trade up for hometown hero Kenny Pickett, who has also reportedly attracted keen interest from the quarterback-needy Panthers — and the Saints, with two first-round picks courtesy of a timely trade with the Eagles, have the draft capital to move up (Sam Howell of North Carolina, who would have a ton of local appeal, is also a strong possibility for the former).

The Falcons will be perfectly happy to grab Michael/Mike Vick clone Malik Willis if they get the chance, even though suspect competition in college and his lack of height are both potential red flags — and the Eagles, with five picks in the first two days (only the Chiefs, with six, have more), can be counted on to make a real head-scratcher or two, as always.

There is lively speculation about Howie Roseman, who has an uncanny knack for getting himself disliked by the irascible Philadelphia fan base, trading down with the Lions, who have the last pick in the first round as the result of the Jared Goff-for-Matt Stafford trade, so that he can draft North Dakota State wide receiver Christian Watson, who has Calvin Johnson-like measurables — he's 6-foot-4 and he ran a 4.36 at the combine — at a spot where Roseman will not be accused of "reaching," a major breach of draft etiquette.

Before Watson is selected, Ohio State's duo of Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, who ran 4.38 and 4.26, respectively, at the combine, will go as certain first-rounders, as will Jameson Williams of Alabama, despite his catastrophic ACL injury in January's national championship game. Drake London of USC is reminiscent of Tampa Bay's Mike Evans, but Treyvon Burks of Arkansas did himself no favors with his disappointing combine. Calvin Austin of Memphis could be the next DeSean Jackson.

As many as five "edge rushers" — the hot new position — could find out what NFL team they will be playing for as soon as Thursday night, although one of them, Purdue's George Karlaftis, could be moved inside on the proverbial next level because of his, to put it politely, modest speed. The consensus "winner" of the running back derby appears to be Iowa State's Brice Hall, but not in the first round — and for teams that are looking for a Derrick Henry-Najee Harris type of runner will find Brian Robinson, Jr., who like Henry and Harris also went to Alabama, or Georgia's Zamir White more to their liking.

Linebacker-sized Kyle Hamilton (6'4", 220) of Notre Dame, who overachieved at the combine, leads the parade at safety, while Cincinnati's Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, whose rangy frame brings to mind Philadelphia's Joe Lavender from years past, is sure to spice up any team's depth chart at the cornerback position.

Just because it will be a big surprise if any so-called "skill position" players go early doesn't mean that many if not most teams will not come away with players who will greatly improve their prospects going forward.

This will not be a "sexy" draft — but it has every promise of being a productive one.

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