2022 NFL Draft reaction: Winners and losers from the first round

Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner after being selected as the fourth overall pick to the New York Jets during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft at the NFL Draft Theater.
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Ricky Dimon


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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports -- just about any and all you can think of! -- and coaching tennis in Atlanta, GA. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me. For Ricky Dimon media enquiries, please email contact@pickswise.com.
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As expected, the first day of the 2022 NFL Draft was absolutely wild. The wide receiver market – and not just among rookies – completely exploded, trades were made left and right, Malik Willis is still available (and so is every other quarterback outside of Kenny Pickett), Derek Stingley Jr. went No. 3 overall and five University of Georgia defensive players were selected. That number is six if you count Jermaine Johnson (transferred to Florida State), whose slide down the draft board is a story in itself.

There is always a ton of disagreement among experts and fans both during and after the draft festivities, but we can all agree that the teams generally did a superb job of submitting their picks in a timely fashion. Even teams who traded out of their spots rarely used up the entirety of their allotted time. Mercifully, the first round ended well before midnight Eastern.

Before the proceedings continue on Friday, it’s time to reflect on what transpired in the first round.

2022 NFL Draft biggest winners: Gangs of New York

With a combined four picks in the top 10, the New York Giants and New York Jets held the majority of the cards in terms of determining how the first round would play out as a whole. Given that the two New York franchises have been the two absolute worst franchises (at least per win-loss record) over the last five years, you could just assume they would muff it up with those picks near the top of the draft. Instead, both teams knocked it out of the park.

The Giants landed Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal at No. 5 and No. 7, respectively. At times this spring, both Thibodeaux and Neal were thought of as potential No. 1 overall picks.

The Jets secured Cincinnati cornerback Sauce Gardner and Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson at No. 4 and No. 10, respectively. One player at each of those positions had already been selected prior to those picks even though many considered Gardner to be the top CB and ranked Wilson as the best WR. As if all of that wasn’t enough, the Jets traded back into the first round and snagged Johnson at No. 26. JJII was expected to be a top 10 selection.

2022 NFL Draft biggest loser: Dallas not in the best buyers’ club

The Dallas Cowboys hit a home run with Micah Parsons last year, but they may have missed a chance to hit another one in 2022. Johnson was surprisingly still available when they picked at No. 24 and so was Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum. Dallas did go with an offensive lineman, but it was Tulsa guard Tyler Smith. Nobody outside of the Cowboys’ war room is going to be particularly enthused about that transaction. Adding insult to injury, not only did the Giants thrive but the Philadelphia Eagles – another NFC East rival – also traded with the Tennessee Titans for wide receiver A.J. Brown and drafted UGA defensive tackle Jordan Davis. Both of those moves are bad news for the rest of the division.

2022 NFL Draft first round impact: East no longer least?

The Cowboys against the field is now an even bet in the NFC East. They are a modest -110 to win it, while the Eagles are no longer a longshot at reasonable +275 odds. The Washington Commanders are +450, while the Giants currently come in at +650. Although +650 may seem like a lot, it’s not when you consider that the only division in which the fourth favorite has better odds is the AFC West (the Las Vegas Raiders are +600).

As for the much more immediate horizon, all eyes will be on Willis on Saturday night. The Seahawks are +300 favorites to draft him followed by the New Orleans Saints (+400), the Tennessee Titans (+500), the Detroit Lions (+600) and the Atlanta Falcons (+600).

Pickswise is the home of NFL Picks. Be sure to check out all of our post-Super Bowl offseason coverage as we gear up for the 2022 campaign.

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