Friday’s Den: My running diary of the first round of the NFL Draft

If I never hear the term “mock draft” again, it’ll be too soon. Seriously.

Welcome to my running diary of the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, which is being held in Las Vegas. Originally, Las Vegas was supposed to host the 2020 Draft and I was supposed to be there, but the world had a different idea, with the pandemic and all, so here we are. I’m in my living room, a good place to be and a lot more affordable than Las Vegas this week.

Jacksonville has the first pick, thanks to the Urban Meyer debacle.

I’m watching the NFL Network feed; I’ll watch ESPN on Day 3 Saturday, in deference to Mel Kiper Jr but I’ve lost some enthusiasm for ESPN the last few years.

There are A LOT of people outdoors by the stage where I’m assuming the picks will be announced. A lot, as in maybe 100,000 or so.

8:06— Roger Goodell takes the stage, to mixed reviews. Can we start this already?

8:17— Jacksonville is on the clock; they hired Doug Peterson as their new coach, a huge upgrade from last year. With the first pick, Jaguars take Georgia’s Travon Walker, an edge rusher.

Why does Goodell get booed all the time? So what he makes $30M a year, as a spokesman for 32 really rich people. He seems like a decent guy.

Goodell trivia: When Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, Goodell’s father Charles Goodell took Kennedy’s place as a US Senator.

8:21— Detroit Lions take edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson from nearby Michigan; the last time defensive players were the first two players taken in a draft was in 2000.

Lions haven’t made the playoffs since 2016; in the 56 years of the Super Bowl era, Detroit is 1-12 in playoffs, with lone win in 1991.

8:27— Houston takes LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr, whose dad played Arena Football for the Albany Firebirds; his grandfather Darryl was a terrific WR for New England whose career ended tragically when he was paralyzed in a 1978 preseason game.

8:34— Jets are up next; they take Ahmad Gardner, a DB from Cincinnati. The green room for this draft seems more like an auditorium than a room. Gardner took a wrong turn going from the Green Room to the stage. He is 6-2, almost 6-3, very tall for a corner.

First four picks are defensive players.

Hey there is Hall of Famer Kurt Warner on NFL Network; he made the Hall of Fame despite not being drafted coming out of Northern Iowa. 

8:41— Giants select another pass rusher, Kayvon Thibodeaux from Oregon, who Daniel Jeremiah comps to Shawne Merriman, the old Chargers star. Since 2015, Thibodeaux is the 5th Oregon Duck to be taken in the top 7 of the draft.

Random question: When do the Super Bowl champs pick? Oh yeah, the Rams don’t have a first round pick until 2024- their last first round pick was in 2016 (Jared Goff).

8:46— Carolina Panthers have the wealthiest owner in the NFL, David Tepper, who is worth $16B or so. Thats billion, with a B. Carolina doesn’t have another pick until the 4th round; with the 6th pick, they take Ikem Ekwonu, an offensive tackle from NC State.

If you bet over 3.5 in quarterbacks drafted in first round, you might be in trouble.

8:53— Giants are up again, the first of eight teams with multiple first round picks; they take Evan Neal, a tackle from Alabama, so he is used to winning. Giants have made the playoffs once since 2011; they need guys who are used to winning.

Giants got this pick from Chicago last year, when the Bears wanted to draft Justin Fields. 

Eight teams don’t have a first round pick tonight, including the hometown Raiders.

9:00— Atlanta Falcons are 35-46 since losing the Super Bowl in overtime 5+ years ago; they take USC WR Drake London, giving newly-acquired QB Marcus Mariota a target. They show London dunking a basketball in high school; he probably shoots free throws better than Ben Simmons.

Charles Davis comps him to Larry Fitzgerald, a pretty huge compliment.

Words you hear on draft night, but rarely any other time:
— Upside
— Catch radius
— Physicality
— creating separation

9:09— Seattle Seahawks are up next; right now their QB would be Drew Lock, but they obviously don’t have a game for four months. If I was a Seahawks fan, would I be happy that they traded Russell Wilson? I’m not a Seahawks fan, so its none of my business.

Seattle takes Charles Cross, another SEC tackle (Mississippi State); he goes from playing for Mike Leach to Pete Carroll. Maybe they should’ve drafted offensive linemen when they had Wilson, who is a Hall of Fame quarterback.

I like it better when the people in a team’s draft room aren’t all in shirts/ties; Seattle’s people are all dressed casually. It is a football team, not a damn hedge fund operation.

9:13— Jets are up again; 4 of the first 13 picks go to the Garden State. Jets were minus-13 in turnovers last year, which isn’t good. Jets made AFC title game in 2009 and 2010, the Rex Ryan era; they haven’t made the playoffs since then. 

Jets take WR Garrett Wilson, a WR from Ohio State. Are teams in cold weather areas more likely to draft a player who has played in cold weather in college?

Good Lord, I forgot that the Saints gave Jameis Winston $28M for two years; no wonder Sean Payton quit. They have Andy Dalton as a backup, but Dalton is better than Winston.

9:21— New Orleans just traded into #11 slot; they traded a 3rd/4th round pick to Washington to move up from 16th to 11th, so whoever they pick here is a guy they really want. 

Saints took WR Chris Olave, another WR from Ohio State; Buckeyes threw for 361+ yards in each of their last five games last year. Olave caught 65 passes for 936 yards, 13 TD’s; the guy the Giants drafted (Garrett Wilson) caught 70 passes for 1,058 yards, 12 TD’s.

NFL Network just had a commercial touting the 2022 schedule release, which is two weeks away. That’ll be a busy night for me, starting my handicapping. Thursday night games will be on Amazon Prime, which I actually never heard of until they announced that.

Tony Gonzalez just announced that Chiefs at Chargers is the Week 2 Thursday game, the first Amazon Prime game.

9:30— Lions just traded with NFC North rival Minnesota, dealing an extra 3rd-round pick to the Vikings, to move up from 32nd to 12th- they select WR Jameson Williams from Alabama. The 32nd pick Detroit dealt to Minnesota was the Rams’ pick that the Lions acquired in the Matthew Stafford trade.

It isn’t often division rivals make trades like that, but Detroit GM Holmes/new Minnesota coach O’Connell worked together with the Rams, so maybe that facilitated the deal. 

9:40— Eagles traded with Houston to move up to #13, hopping over the Ravens; Texans get a 4th-round pick and two 5th-round picks to fall back two slots. Philly drafts Jordan Davis, a very large defensive tackle from Georgia.

This is Pete Prisco’s analysis of the Giants’ selection Kayvon Thibodeaux:
“He is the best pure pass rusher in this draft. He has the explosive ability the Giants badly need. The question with him now is his character. Does he love the game? But I think he will get past any of that talk and become a dominant edge player. I love this pick.”

Whenever I see scouts questioning a player’s love of the game, I get queasy.

9:47— Baltimore is up next; they take Kyle Hamilton, a safety from Notre Dame. He is 6-4, 220, a big safety. Ravens also traded with Arizona to acquire the 23rd pick.

Baltimore traded WR Marquise Brown and a 3rd-round pick to Arizona for the 23rd pick; Brown played college ball with Kyler Murray.

9:50— Houston has the 15th pick; they took G Kenyon Green from Texas A&M, who can play multiple spots on the offensive line. Texans went 8-25 the last two years; they need lot of help, which is why they dealt with the Eagles to get extra mid-round picks.

9:57— Washington has the 16th pick; they take Penn State WR Jahan Dotson, who Jeremiah says has the best hands in this draft. Catching the ball is important for a receiver. They traded for Carson Wentz; now they’re giving him targets to throw to.

Dotson played for three offensive coordinators during his time at Penn State.

9:59— Chargers take OL Zion Johnson, who started his career at I-AA Davidson, but wound up at Boston College. They have a great young QB in Herbert; now they need to protect him.

10:02— We have another trade; Tennessee traded WR AJ Brown to the Eagles, for the 18th pick, plus a 3rd-round pick. Titans traded for Robert Woods, wouldn’t pay Brown, so he goes off to Philadelphia. Brown gets four years, $100M from the Eagles.

Someone posted a pic of AJ Brown working out with Eagles’ QB Jalen Hurts four days ago, so this obviously has been in the works.

With that 18th pick, Tennessee takes WR Treylon Burks from Arkansas, whose comp on NFL Network, ironically, is AJ Brown.

New Orleans is up again; will be weird seeing them without Sean Payton on the sidelines. Last year, Saints threw for their fewest yards/game since 1997. Quarterback is an important position.

10:12— Saints select T Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa.

Steelers are up now; no quarterbacks have been taken yet.

Used to know a guy who openly mocked me for watching/enjoying the NFL Draft; never quite understood why it bothered the guy. Everyone likes different stuff, but this is an industry with 32 teams worth an average of $3B each, and some teams are just so much better than others in this process, which makes it fascinating, at least to me.

By the way, Patrick Mahomes has a career record of 58-16; he was THE TENTH PICK in the 2017 draft. Mitch Trubisky was the #2 pick; that is why this is also interesting.

10:18— Steelers, who haven’t won a playoff game since 2016, take Pitt QB Kenny Pickett, who sat out his team’s bowl game, so he wouldn’t get hurt. Mitch Trubisky/Mason Rudolph are also Steeler QB’s. I wouldn’t have taken Pickett under any circumstance. Quarterbacks have to lead their team into battle, not opt out of a game to avoid injury.

Steeler great Franco Harris announced this pick; this fall will be with 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, which I remember because it happened on my birthday. My 8th grade basketball team also lost 34-17 that day- I had nine of our 17 points, which tells you how bad our team was (we finished 1-13).

10:23– Chiefs just traded up with New England, to move up from 29th to 21st; Kansas City takes Trent McDuffie, a CB from Washington. Raiders added Davante Adams, Denver added Russell Wilson; pass defense is more important now than it was in the AFC West.

10:28— Green Bay is up; they select LB Quay Walker from Georgia, who helped the Dawgs win a national title last year. Aaron Rodgers probably just tossed his remote.

Last time Packers drafted a WR in the first round was 2002; NFL Network guys are referencing a scene from A Few Good Men, because all the top WR prospects have already been taken. “I’m not Markinson, are you Markinson?” 

10:35— Lot of trades; Ravens traded into this slot, then just dealt the pick to Buffalo, which takes Kaiir Elam, a CB from Florida.

Ravens get an extra 4th-round pick to drop down two slots. Everyone is Buffalo’s draft room is wearing shirt/tie. No bueno.

10:38— Dallas is up; Jerry Jones’s grandson is sitting there in the Cowboys draft room. He’ll probably own the Cowboys long after I’m dead and gone. Must be nice to be rich.

Watching Hard Knocks last summer, I was totally unimpressed with Mike McCarthy; this is the best guy the Cowboys can get as head coach? He has a good record, but he also coached Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott, two pretty good quarterbacks.

There are so many people in Las Vegas for this; has to be a great night to be a pickpocket.

10:43— Dallas takes Tyler Smith, a tackle from Tulsa, who apparently got called for a lot of penalties in college. Tyler the tackle from Tulsa; say that three times fast.

Just saw a sign on TV for the Mirage Casino and I got hungry; they have a Carnegie Deli in there, where they make the best sandwiches ever. They were so big I asked for extra bread and made two sandwiches out of each one. They also have Dr Brown’s cream soda, which is tremendous.

10:50— They just showed the Ravens’ draft room; you could see their white board, with all the players’ names listed. Surprised they allowed that to be shown. Baltimore finished last in their division for first time since 2007; they lost so many close games— I’d make them a candidate for a big bounce back season this year.

10:53— Ravens took C Tyler Lindenbaum from Iowa; long time ago, Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz was OL coach of the Browns, before they moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens. This guy was also a wrestler, which helps offensive linemen.

Jets just dealt a 5th-round pick to Tennessee to move up to 26th in this draft; this will be their third first round pick. It has been 22 years since the Jets had this many first round picks.

Jets take edge rusher Jermaine Johnson from Florida State; Daniel Jeremiah had him as a top 10 player, and he was the 26th pick. He transferred from Georgia to Florida State in college, now he’s a first round pick.

11:01— Jacksonville just traded with Tampa Bay to move up a few slots; Bucs get the first pick in tomorrow’s second round. Jaguars select Devin Lloyd, a linebacker from Utah who has been wearing sunglasses in the green room for the last three hours.

Stanford coach David Shaw has high praise for Lloyd, so good pick for Jacksonville. His comp on NFL Network is 49ers’ LB Fred Warner.

11:14— Green Bay has another pick; coach Matt LaFleur is 39-10 in regular season games, 2-3 in the postseason. Packers take Devonte Wyatt, a DT from Georgia. Both of Green Bay’s first round picks come from national champion Georgia.

Green Bay won the Super Bowl after the 2010 season; since then, they’re 7-9 in playoff games.

11:20— New England is up now; they take G Cole Strange, who played at I-AA Chattanooga. Daniel Jeremiah said he thought he was a 3rd round pick. New England thinks differently than other teams. Rich Eisen just made a Boston reference from Good Will Hunting; it is getting late.

11:22— Chiefs just took edge rusher George Karlaftis from Purdue, which is nice, seeing how he is actually there. It would suck to sit there for four hours and not get picked.

He used to be on the under-16 team for Greece’s national water polo team. Seriously. He has only been in this country for eight years, which is interesting.

I can’t really swim and I can’t see a damn thing without my glasses, so water polo has no appeal to me.

11:26— Cincinnati has the next pick, the second/last pick tonight; they take Daxton Hill, a safety from Michigan who is versatile.

News: Giants are not picking up QB Daniel Jones’ 5th-year option, which helps prove that the new regime in New Jersey knows what they’re doing.

11:33— Last pick of the night belongs to Minnesota; they select Lewis Cine, a safety from Georgia. Do the Dawgs have any players left in Athens? Five defensive players from Georgia have already been taken.

Only one quarterback got taken. Unusual.

Damn, what are all these people at the draft going to do now? It is 8:40 on a Thursday night in Las Vegas. Hopefully they can find some fund stuff to do or some good food to eat. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.