2022 NFL Draft: Grading The First 10 Picks Selected One Year Later

2022 NFL Draft: How Did The First 10 Picks Pan Out After Year 1?

Written and Edited by Jaydon A.
8:38 pm. March 11th, 2023

With the 2023 NFL Draft approaching and fans anticipating that their team selects a franchise cornerstone, it's time we take it back just one year ago to the 2022 Draft class. Containing elite rookies like Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, the cornerback out of Cincinnati, or Aidan Hutchinson, the edge rusher out of Michigan. This class also had players drafted that left fans with one question circling around their head, "Why?".  So we have decided to go back and grade each and every first round pick starting with the first 10 selected.

Travon Walker on September 11th, 2022 after recording an interception in the Jacksonville Jaguars season opener against the Washington Commanders, the Jacksonville Jaguars would go on to lose this game with a final score of 22-28.

1. Travon Walker DE, Jacksonville Jaguars

Stats (15 games): 49 tackles, 5 TFLs, 21 pressures, 10 QB hits, 3.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 INT

Coming out of Georgia, Travon Walkers stats were far from flashy as he only recorded 61 tackles and 9.5 sacks in his 3-year college career. So why was he so high on teams draft boards?  At 6'5, 270 lbs, Travon is an athletic freak. His athleticism paired with his lackluster stats in college meant Walker had boom or bust potential and no matter where he was drafted, it was gonna be a gamble. Nonetheless, with the first overall pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Travon Walker, DE, Georgia. At the time many believed that the Jaguars decision would backfire, and well it might have. During week 1 against Washington, Travon Walker recorded 1 sack, 4 tackles, and an interception. Immediately his odds for defensive rookie of the year jumped, however his hype didn't last long. Travon went quiet for the rest of the year, only recording 2.5 more sacks and 45 more tackles in 14 games. By no means was Travon a horrible pick, but was he first overall worthy? Absolutely not.

Grade: C

2. Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Detroit Lions

Stats (17 games): 52 tackles, 9 TFLs, 30 pressures, 15 QB hits, 9.5 sacks, 3 INTS

Heading into the draft, Aidan Hutchinson was considered to be the first overall pick by most. His 4-year career at Michigan was outstanding as he recorded 17.5 sacks, 156 tackles, and 5 FFs.  As most of us know, he wasn't the first pick following Jacksonville's selection of Travon Walker. However, no story could tell it better as Aidan was able to stay in Michigan as the Detroit Lions took him with the second pick in the draft. There was no doubt that Aidan Hutchinson was gonna be a stud for Detroit following his second game where he recorded 3 sacks and 6 tackles. Aidan Hutchinson stayed consistent with his production throughout the entire season and finished 2nd in Defensive Rookie of The Year voting. 

Grade: A+

Aidan Hutchinson on August 27th, 2022 where the Detroit Lions took on the Atlanta Falcons in week 3 of the pre-season. Detroit would go on to lose this game with a final score of 27-23.

Derek Stingley Jr. on January 8th, 2023, making a tackle on Colts WR Mike Strachan during week 18 where Texans QB Davis Mills would throw a touchdown with under a minute left in the game to give the Texans their 3rd win with a final score of 32-31.

3. Derek Stingley Jr., CB, Houston Texans

Stats (9 games): 43 tackles, 1 sack, 54 targets, 430 yards allowed, 1 INT, 5 PDs

Derek Stingley was an elite prospect coming out of college and was widely considered to be the best corner in the 2022 class, and rightfully so. He was astonishing throughout his 4 years at LSU, earning himself a consensus All-American in 2019. Houston, who was in desperate need of secondary help, drafted Derek with the 3rd pick in the draft. Derek Stingley started strong in the first half of the season before straining his hamstring, sidelining him for the last 8 games. Even though Derek performed great in the 9 games he played, him injuring his hamstring was only one of the two factors that hurt him as a player. Following the Texans draft selection of Stingley, the Jets would draft CB Sauce Gardner, ultimately leading to Derek being overlooked due to Gardner's outstanding rookie season. 

Grade: B+

4. Sauce Gardner, CB, New York Jets

Stats (17 games): 75 tackles, 3 TFLs, 86 targets, 452 yards allowed, 2 INTs, 20 PDs

Undoubtedly the best rookie to come out of this class so far. Sauce Gardner came out of Cincinnati having not allowed a single touchdown since his high-school days, and to this day still stands true. The New York Jets took their shot on Sauce with the 4th pick in the draft and little did they know they had just drafted the next Darrelle Revis. Sauce in just his rookie season established himself as a top cornerback in the league. Some notable receivers that Sauce held to just under 35 yards are Justin Jefferson, DK Metcalf, Courtland Sutton, Stefon Diggs (twice), Tyreek Hill (twice), Amari Cooper, and Ja'Marr Chase. During the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, Sauce received 46 first place votes. This was followed by Aidan Hutchinson with only 3 first place votes. It's safe to say that Sauce is that guy for New York.

Grade: A++

Sauce Gardner on Janurary 1st, 2023, when the Jets faced against the Seattle Seahawks in week 17 of the NFL season. The Jets would go on to lose this game 6-23, leading to the Jets being eliminated from playoff contention.

Kayvon Thibodeaux on September 26th, 2022 where the Giants faced the Cowboys in week 3. The Cowboys won this game with a final score of 23-16

5. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, New York Giants

Stats (14 games): 49 tackles, 6 TFLs, 18 pressures, 13 QB hits, 4 sacks, 2 FFs

Kayvon Thibodeaux coming out of Oregon was one of the top edge rushers heading into the draft, some thinking the best ahead of guys like Aidan Hutchinson and Travon Walker, however Kayvon was only the 3rd edge drafted in 2022 when he was selected by the Giants with the 5th pick. Throughout the season Kayvon struggled with consistency but also showed much promise with his athletic ability and elite explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. Although the stats don't show it, Kayvon was still a good pick for New York and it should show for many more years to come.

Grade: B

6. Ikem Ekwonu, OT, Carolina Panthers

Stats (17 games): 1,018 snaps, 13 penalties, 6 sacks allowed

With the Panthers offensive line being bottom of the barrel in 2021, they selected one of, if not the best tackle in this class, Ikem Ekwonu. Ekwonu was a solid pick for Carolina to say the least. He stayed consistent throughout the whole season as he only allowed 6 sacks when facing top tier edge rushers like Myles Garrett, Nick Bosa, Trey Hendrickson, and T.J. Watt. His biggest downfall was his penalties as he finished top 6 in the entire NFL with 13. Nothing else to say here as Ikem is likely the future of that line in Carolina.

Grade: B-

Ikem Ekwonu after being selected by the Carolina Panthers at the 2022 NFL Draft.

Evan Neal on October 2nd, 2022 when the New York Giants took on the Chicago Bears in week 4 of the 2022-23 NFL season. The Giants would go on to win this game 20-12.

7. Evan Neal, OT, New York Giants

Stats (13 games): 738 snaps, 7 penalties, 7 sacks allowed

Evan Neal coming out of Alabama was arguably the top tackle in this class, competing with Ikem Ekwonu. Heading into his rookie season, expectations were high for the former All-American. Unfortunately, Evan didn't meet them. Evan struggled throughout the year as his game was sloppy and inconsistent but Evan also showed flashes of elite pass blocking for New York and should continue to as he plays his career out for the Giants. Neal wasn't a bad pick but it's safe to say he was a disappointing one.

Grade: C

8. Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Stats (17 games): 72 receptions, 866 yards, 12 Y/R, 50.9 Y/G, 4 TDs

When drafted to the Falcons, your bound to face a ton of adversity and that's exactly what happened with Drake London. Coming out of USC, the star WR Drake London was a top prospect for his class but not many had him as the #1 receiver, but Atlanta seemingly didn't care as they drafted Drake with the 8th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Heading into his rookie season, everyone knew he was going to have a tough time as he was going to be playing with Marcus Mariota. However, Drake didn't show it as he put up over 850 yards throughout his rookie year. Although he did great in his rookie year, he was taken over guys like Garett Wilson and Chris Olave, making him a slight reach. 

Grade: B+

Drake London during pre-game warmups on September 18th, 2022 where the Atlanta Falcons would face the Los Angeles Rams. The Falcons went on to lose this game 27-31 dropping them to an 0-2 record.

Charles Cross on August 18th, 2022 in week 2 of the pre-season when Seattle faced off against Chicago. Seattle would ultimately lose this game 27-11.

9. Charles Cross, OT, Seattle Seahawks

Stats (17 games): 1088 snaps, 7 penalties, 7 sacks allowed

Coming out of Mississippi State, Charles Cross was a guy that teams saw as a future franchise guy. Seattle especially. The Seahawks drafted Charles Cross with the 9th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and it was a  good decision by Seattle's front office as Cross has shown that he is a great tackle for their offensive line. He struggled a little bit in the beginning of his rookie season but managed to improve with each snap played as he cleaned up his game and showed more discipline. Cross has outperformed each tackle taken above him, granting him a higher grade than Ikem Ekwonu and Evan Neal.
Grade: B+

10. Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets

Stats (17 games): 83 receptions, 1,103 yards, 13.3 Y/R, 64.9 Y/G, 4 TDs

The New York Jets once again show their ability to acquire elite players this draft by selecting Garrett Wilson out of Ohio State. Garrett Wilson was nothing short of astonishing during his rookie season as he won Offensive Rookie of The Year, ahead of guys like Kenneth Walker III and Chris Olave. Considering the fact that Garrett Wilson managed to rack up over a thousand yards with Joe Flacco, Zach Wilson, and Mike White at QB, we can only imagine what he might do with a star throwing the ball to him. Garrett Wilson is undoubtedly the future of the Jet's WR group and no words can express how excited I am to see how his career plays out.
Grade: A+

Garrett Wilson on September 18th, 2022, catching a touchdown pass over Browns CB, Martin Emerson. The Jets would go on to make a miraculous comeback within the final 2 minutes of the game to win 31-30.