2022 NFL Draft Day 1 Takeaways: Willis reaches Day 2, receivers go early and often, staggering number of trades

NFL Draft Daily looks at top stories, historical trends, player performances and more all through the lens of the NFL Draft. After all, the draft is finally here! Check back in tomorrow for another entry.

Willis was the No. 15 player on NFL Mock Draft Database’s Consensus Big Board. (Wikimedia Commons)

Rough day for quarterbacks as Malik Willis drops to Day 2
Kenny Pickett became the first (and only) quarterback selected at No. 20 overall. That was the latest the first passer came off the board since 1997. Pickett ended up being the only quarterback selected in the first round as well, the first time that has happened since 2013. It was a bit of a shock given the hype around Malik Willis leading into the draft. He is a high-character guy with great arm strength and impressive mobility. He is a bit of a project, but I have a feeling he won’t last long on Day 2. Tampa, Seattle, Tennessee and maybe the Giants are all in play in the first 10 picks of the round as it currently stands. I am stunned that he is still on the board. He is my top remaining player.

Receivers fly off the board
We knew this was a good receiver draft. The NFL is treating it like a great receiver draft. Four receivers went in the top 12 picks. Six went in the top 18. A.J. Brown and Marquise Brown also got traded (more on that in a moment). The Eagles immediately paid A.J. $100 million. In short, it was another wild day of receiver movement. The offseason saw Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill moved followed by mega extensions. That came on the heels of huge contracts for Mike Williams and Christian Kirk. With the cost of keeping good receivers skyrocketing, it should come as no surprise that receiver prospects are in high demand. Perhaps the most surprising move was Jahan Dotson going at No. 16. The Commanders clearly covet speed, but it was a bit of a surprise to see him go ahead of Treylon Burks. Dotson was also the biggest reach of draft slot versus ranking on my board.

Questionable trades by the Cardinals and Vikings

I can’t figure out what the Cardinals are playing at. Sure, Hollywood Brown might be better than some of us think and a good fit for the offense, but why on Earth are you parting with a first-round pick to acquire a receiver who has averaged 51.3 yards per game in his career. This is also just one year after selecting Rondale Moore, who has a very similar skill set. I don’t question the fit. I do question the value proposition here. Especially when you see what A.J. Brown was traded on the same day. The Ravens have the best front office in football.

Then there are the Vikings, who traded down 20 spots AND gave up their second-round selection and only received a pair of Day 2 picks to do so. It was such an odd trade, no matter how you slice it. For one, they did not recoup enough draft capital in the move. Secondly, they allowed their division rival to grab one of the most explosive and dynamic players in this draft. What was the biggest need Minnesota had heading into the draft? Cornerback. So they allowed their rival to grab a receiver they do not have anyone to cover. Not sure what the thinking was there.

Trades, trades and more trades
A whopping NINE trades went down on Day 1 of the draft. This is just two years removed from a draft where we had zero trades in the first round. I think it really underlines how much opinions vary on this draft class. Keep in mind, we already had a ridiculous number of trades leading up to this draft. In the end, only 23 teams made a first-round selection.

Aidan Hutchinson became the highest drafted Michigan player since 2008. (Wikimedia Commons)

Defense reins supreme early
Five defensive players opened the draft. It was the first time since 1991 that we had at least five straight defensive players selected. There were six straight that year. In a loaded draft of corners and edge rushers, it should not be a huge surprise, but given how much the NFL has shifted towards the offense in the past 20 years, this is a huge departure from the norm. We did immediately go on a run of seven straight offensive players. I don’t think this is a sign of things to come. It simply highlights how talented this draft is from a defensive perspective.

Jermaine Johnson II’s surprising slide
Johnson was the No. 10 player on my board. He was No. 11 on the NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board. With plenty of teams needing edge rushers (Eagles, Ravens, Texans and Cowboys), it was a big surprise to see him fall all the way to the 26th pick. As a Jets fan, I’m thrilled New York traded back into the first round to grab him. There is no question that Johnson was not quite at the same level as his counterparts when it came to winning consistently in pass-rush situations. Still, I think he is the best run defender of any of the top four edge players (Walker, Hutchinson and Thibodeaux). He wasn’t bad as a pass rusher either, posting 11.5 sacks this season. He just might not be elite. Either way, this was one of the biggest surprises of the night outside of Willis.

Best players available
I actually feel pretty good about how my board lined up with the league’s. Only Kenny Pickett, Jahan Dotson, Tyler Smith, Lewis Cine and Cole Strange fell outside my top 32 prospects. I fully expected Pickett and Dotson to go in the first. Smith and Cine were a little more unexpected, but not shocking. Strange was really out there. I like him a lot as a prospect, but I thought he would go at the end of the second round, not the end of the first. Here are my top remaining prospects.

20. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
21. Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson (first-round cut off)
24. David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
29. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
32. Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
33. Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
34. Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
35. Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
36. Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
38. George Pickens, WR, Georgia
39. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
41. Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
42. Sean Rhyan, OL, UCLA
43. Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
44. Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
46. Travis Jones, DL, UConn
47. Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
48. Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
50. Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
52. Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky
53. Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati
54. Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor (2nd-round cut off)
55. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
56. Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
57. John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
58. Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
59. Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
60. Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin
61. Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma
62. Logan Hall, DL, Houston
63. DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
64. Sam Howell, QB, UNC
65. Phidarian Mathis, DL, Alabama
66. Amare Barno, EDGE, Virginia Tech
67. Cade Otton, TE, Washington
68. Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State
69. Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
70. Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
71. Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia
72. Josh Paschall, EDGE, Kentucky
73. Nicholas Petit-Frère, OT, Ohio State
74. Cameron Jurgens, C, Nebraska
75. Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia Tech
76. Cordale Flott, DB, LSU
77. Dylan Parham, G, Memphis
78. Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
79. Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State
80. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
81. James Cook, RB, Georgia
82. Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State
83. Nick Cross, S, Maryland
84. Domonique Robinson, EDGE, Miami (Ohio)
85. Wandale Robinson, WR, Kentucky
86. Sam WIlliams, EDGE, Ole Miss
87. Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State
88. Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
89. Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
90. Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA
91. Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida
92. Bryon Cook, S, Cincinnati
93. Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State
94. Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis
95. Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
96. JT Woods, S, Baylor
97. Tyler Goodson, RB, Iowa
98. Daniel Bellinger, TE, San Diego State
99. Pierre Strong Jr., RB, South Dakota State
100. Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma

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