Oh, what a first night it was at the 2022 NFL Draft.
Entering Thursday evening in Las Vegas, the draft was poised to be one of the most unpredictable in memory. That unpredictability proved to be one of the few prognoses that came to fruition.
It was a record-breaking evening of chaos, beginning with the culmination of Georgia pass rusher Travon Walker’s surprising ascent to No. 1 and concluding with his former Bulldogs teammate Lewis Cine being selected at No. 32.
There were plenty of reasons for bedlam, but not the least of which were a record-breaking nine trades in the first round – the most since Round 1 was moved to its own day in 2010, by NFL Research.
Included in those trades were two Browns – wide receivers AJ and Marquise – who went from Tennessee to Philadelphia and Baltimore to Arizona, respectively. While those two blockbusters for high-profile NFL wideouts were among the highlights, so too was the run on rookie wide receivers. Six wide receivers were selected in the top 20 – beginning with USC’s Drake London to the Falcons at No. And concluding with Arkansas’ Treylon Burks at No. 8. 18 to the Titans – for a common draft era (since 1967) record, per NFL Research.
London was the first offensive skill position player off the board and, amazingly, an offensive player was not drafted until no. 6, when the Panthers pounced on North Carolina State’s Ickey Ekwonu. It was the first time no offensive players were taken in the top five since 1991, according to NFL Research.
Entering Thursday’s festivities, much of the intrigue as usual surrounded quarterback, but the looming quandary was just when a QB would finally go, as 2022 was considered a down class of signal-callers. A QB finally went off the board when the Steelers gleefully picked up Pitt’s Kenny Pickett at No. 20. It was the latest quarterback has gone in the draft since the 49ers picked Jim Druckenmiller 26th overall back in 1997. Pickett ended up being the only quarterback to hear his name called, marking the first occasion in which only one QB was picked in the opening round since 2013.
While the Steelers stayed put with their one and only draft pick of the first round, there was a common draft era record nine teams who had multiple selections – led by the Jets triple-dipping. That was made possible by another record, as 10 teams did not draft a player on Thursday, including the last two Super Bowl champions – the Buccaneers and Rams.