With the 2022 NFL Draft concluded, it’s time for a new set of power rankings. The league just seems to get deeper by the year, so these rankings could vary quite a bit. But overall, this is about where I see teams stacking up with a few months to go until the season, with draft thoughts for each squad.
1. Buffalo Bills
Cornerback was the big need for the Bills entering the draft, and they were able to trade up to secure an exciting option in Kaiir Elam, who had an awesome pre-draft interview with Buffalo:
A glimpse into Kaiir Elam's Combine interview with the Bills pic.twitter.com/ADSU6p64fi
— Billy M (@BillyM_91) May 1, 2022
After he was drafted, Elam then requested the Bills put the playbook on the plane for him so that he could get started. The Florida product has the look of a big-time Year 1 contributor—as does second-round running back James Cook, a mismatch nightmare as a receiver that made Nick Saban “nervous” throughout his college career. The AFC is insanely crowded, but the Bills are the clear favorites in my opinion.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
And I think the Bucs are the clear NFC favorites after Tom Brady quickly unretired. Bruce Arians’ move from head coach to the front office was a stunner, but Todd Bowles should do an outstanding job with the team. Defensive lineman Logan Hall fits right into perhaps the best run defense in the league, guard Luke Goedeke will help make up for the loss of Ali Marpet to retirement, and third-round running back Rachaad White was a bit of a luxury pick at running back. Tampa Bay is re-tooled and set to make another run in 2022.
3. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams didn’t pick until No. 104, but I like what they did on Day 3 of the draft, including Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams, UCLA safety Quentin Lake, and Georgia cornerback Derion Kendrick. The addition of Allen Robinson II during free agency was also huge, as he’s an excellent fit as another red-zone target for Matthew Stafford. We’ll see if the Rams bring back Odell Beckham Jr. in the coming weeks.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
It sounds like the Bengals have the right mindset as they look to avoid a Super Bowl hangover (especially because it felt like they were totally robbed of a championship, which many people feel was the case). The offensive line was bolstered during free agency, and the secondary added pieces with their first two selections in versatile safety/nickel Dax Hill and cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt, who also has some versatility with experience at safety. Cincinnati looks like a very deep team, particularly on defense.
5. Green Bay Packers
I probably would have tried to make a move up the draft board to secure Treylon Burks, but I think it’s stupid for all the “content creators” and people looking for clicks out there to rip (in a very strange manner in some cases, which you might have seen for yourself on Twitter) the Packers for not coming away with a wide receiver in Round 1. Green Bay instead boosted the defense with linebacker Quay Walker and defensive lineman Devont’e Wyatt (both from Georgia) and remained patient by getting North Dakota State receiver Christian Watson early in Round 2—and also adding Nevada’s Romeo Doubs later in the draft. Now, the chemistry needs to come together with Aaron Rodgers and some of his new targets—including veteran Sammy Watkins—leading up to the season.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
This might be a bit high for the Chargers, especially because I think they got a little too crazy with the analytics stuff under Brandon Staley last season. But Zion Johnson further strengthens the offensive line, which should be able to protect third-year quarterback Justin Herbert, who can light up defenses with the best of them—and Georgia offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer might have been a sixth-round steal to add even more depth and competition at o-line. Baylor safety J.T. Woods brings more range and ball skills to the secondary, which also brought in interception-machine J.C. Jackson. And Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller was drafted in Round 4, but no one would have blinked if he was an early second-round selection.
7. Kansas City Chiefs
Sticking with potential steals on the offensive line, the Chiefs were able to get Darian Kinnard out of Kentucky with their seventh draft choice, helping round out a deep class that started with cornerback Trent McDuffie and edge player George Karlaftis in the first round. McDuffie and Karlaftis are strong fits in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense, and then Kansas City was able to add more to an extremely deep wide receiver room with second-round receiver Skyy Moore—and also with undrafted free agent Justyn Ross, who has first round talent but did not get drafted due to health concerns. The Chiefs look like a bunch that will thrive on competition this summer, which could lead to sharp play early in the season.
8. Las Vegas Raiders
This is high compared to their current Super Bowl odds, but I love what the Raiders have done this offseason. Chandler Jones is an upgrade across from Maxx Crosby on the defensive line; and All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams already has chemistry with Derek Carr from their time together at Fresno State and will elevate the entire offense. Guard Dylan Parham was Vegas’ first selection in Round 3, and he’ll compete for a role as a rookie. Fourth-rounder Neil Farrell feels like a good fit for the franchise, and he’ll rotate in on the defensive line. The Raiders somewhat surprisingly declined running back Josh Jacobs’ fifth-year option, but they’ll see how this season goes for him—they drafted two running backs that I think were good values in Zamir White and Brittain Brown.
9. Philadelphia Eagles
The next ten or so teams could go in just about any order. Throwing in the A.J. Brown trade, I don’t think anyone had a better weekend than the Eagles. Jordan Davis (picked No. 13 after a trade up) and Nakobe Dean (somehow dropping to the middle of the third round) were both arguably top-five players in the draft, and Cam Jurgens is a perfect long-term fit behind All-Pro Jason Kelce, who is nearing the end of his stellar career. It just so happens that these are four of the top players I would have wanted to target if I were the Eagles—and I almost feel like the organization has been reading Wolf Sports—so maybe that’s why I’m so high on the offseason. But I think they have the makings of NFC contenders after the past several weeks.
10. Dallas Cowboys
LSU linebacker Damone Clark might prove to be just as good of a steal as the Eagles got with Dean, as Clark went all the way down to pick No. 176 in the fifth round. Overall, this felt like a Cowboys type of draft—a common theme for many teams, drafting players you felt they might want to target. Offensive lineman Tyler Smith was considered a Round 1 reach by many, but Dallas has a vision for how he fits with the offense. Second-rounder Sam Williams adds more depth off the edge in Dan Quinn’s defense, and third-rounder Jalen Tolbert is more competition for a wide receiver room that parted ways with Amari Cooper.
11. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts entered draft weekend with a very strong roster that now has former league MVP Matt Ryan at quarterback, and they were able to add players that fit their program and team needs. Wide receiver Alec Pierce and tight end Jelani Woods add even more height at receiver for Ryan to target, and Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann will compete for the left tackle spot after he was picked in Round 3. The Colts have tremendous depth at safety after adding Nick Cross in the third round, and I’m interested to see how all those guys are utilized. Overall, Indy was obviously in a more challenging spot not having a first-round pick due to last year’s Carson Wentz trade.
12. San Francisco 49ers
The runner-up in the NFC from last season, San Francisco is a tough team to rank right now. The Deebo Samuel trade demand was shocking; ultimately, the Niners might not have a trade partner, as head coach Kyle Shanahan said the team received trade offers for the All-Pro but that “nothing was even remotely close” to a viable offer. Deebo might have no choice but to play for the Niners, but we’ll see how it goes. There was talk that the USC pass rusher Drake Jackson might go in Round 1, and he was a potential major value pick with upside late in Round 2. The Niners are seemingly decimated by injuries to the position every year, but the selection of LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price in the third round might have been the most surprising pick of the draft; it might lead to last year’s third-rounder Trey Sermon being available for trade.
13. Denver Broncos
The Broncos say they watched Russell Wilson highlights while not having their own first-round or second-round draft pick due to the draft, and the team is undoubtedly thrilled with how this offseason has gone. No. 64 pick Nik Bonitto is a good fit as a rotational edge player along with starters Bradley Chubb and free-agent signing Randy Gregory, and third-rounder Greg Dulcich out of UCLA offers major upside as a receiving option at tight end. Denver is also set to get new ownership soon, and the foundation they’ll take over looks very promising.
14. New England Patriots
I wanted to put the Patriots higher than this, but they’ll settle in at No. 14 for now. If he can stay healthy, DeVante Parker could prove to be a massive and underrated addition, bringing more size to the receiving corps. New England made massive efforts to upgrade at receiver, also drafting Baylor speedster Tyquan Thornton in the second round. Those moves might free up Nelson Agholor to be used more ways, including more often underneath and in the slot. Whatever the case may be, Mac Jones will have more firepower to work with heading into Year 2. Guard Cole Strange was a stunner in Round 1, but I’m not going to question it—the Pats have a plan on how they’re going to use him, and the word is that he would not have been on the board much longer.
15. Baltimore Ravens
Perhaps more than any team relative to fits and history, this felt like an ideal “Ravens” type of draft, and—while of course we don’t really know how things will turn out—I think Baltimore had the best draft class of any team. Safety Kyle Hamilton and center Tyler Linderbaum both easily could have been top-ten picks, and the Ravens got them at No. 14 and No. 25. Michigan pass rusher David Ojabo offers great upside when he’s able to get back onto the field, and he would have been a first-round pick if not for his unfortunate Achilles injury at his pro day. Part of the reason the Ravens are this low in the power rankings is that things seem off between Lamar Jackson and the franchise, and the trade of Marquise Brown (while I think it was a plus move to eventually get Linderbaum) felt weird given the aftermath and reaction.
16. Tennessee Titans
I’m not at all a fan of how the Titans handled the situation with superstar receiver A.J. Brown, totally lowballing him with their contract offer before trading him away. Even if Tennessee didn’t want to pay Brown the $22 million per year that he says he would have taken from them, this is a team that wants to win it all this year under Mike Vrabel—I would have at least kept Brown this season on his rookie contract and then work with the franchise tag next offseason. Anyway, I do like the Treylon Burks pick to help make up for the loss of Brown, and Auburn cornerback Roger McCreary was one of the best values of the entire draft in Round 2. And Liberty quarterback Malik Willis is a high-upside pick that could prove to be a home run in the third round.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
I thought it was going to be for Malik Willis, but as expected the Steelers simply waited at pick No. 20 and drafted their quarterback of choice—Pitt’s Kenny Pickett—like what they did in calmly waiting to select running back Najee Harris last spring. If Georgia wide receiver George Pickens avoids any of the concerns that had him drop to the middle of the second round, he can be a steal of a playmaker—and Pittsburgh was able to get Memphis receiver Calvin Austin III right before the Ravens could. Pittsburgh’s offense is young and can be explosive—whether it’s Pickett or Mitchell Trubisky (or even Mason Rudolph, who has a winning record as a starter) under center.
18. New Orleans Saints
It was stunning to me that Chris Olave was the target for the Saints in their trade up to No. 11, but he filled a need as a field-stretcher, and New Orleans has done extraordinarily well in targeting players from Ohio State in the past. The Saints were then able to circle back and hit another need by adding left tackle Trevor Penning at No. 19, and they seem thrilled with their draft return—while I am not as high on it as them, the franchise has been one of the top drafting squads of the past several years. A lot of this season will be riding on quarterback Jameis Winston.
19. Cleveland Browns
The Browns didn’t pick until the third round thanks to the Deshaun Watson trade, which still feels wrong, but they were able to add a lot from Rounds 3-7, including Mississippi State cornerback Martin Emerson and Oklahoma defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey. Cleveland also hopes they have the kicking situation sorted out after drafting LSU’s Cade York in Round 4. Now all eyes turn to the Baker Mayfield situation, of which the Browns don’t really have any leverage over.
20. Miami Dolphins
A four-pick draft class for the Dolphins is highlighted by Georgia linebacker Channing Tindall, who went outside the top 100 but is an athletic linebacker that can make an immediate impact for Miami’s defense. The Dolphins went all in on putting Tua Tagovailoa in the best position to have success, and I think he’ll respond and play well in 2022—he’s played quite well early in his career, too, and the criticism has been misguided to me. The offensive line must protect him, though.
21. Arizona Cardinals
The connection Kyler Murray and Marquise Brown have dating back to their time together at Oklahoma is a big part of making that trade happen, but I’m wondering what Arizona thought when they saw A.J. Brown get acquired by the Eagles for similar value. The suspension of DeAndre Hopkins (six games for PED use) does make the acquisition of “Hollywood” more crucial, and Arizona is also expecting a jump in production from second-year receiver Rondale Moore. Tight end Trey McBride will be a nice complement to Zach Ertz, but a few picks for Arizona that stand out to me are defensive end Myjai Sanders out of Cincinnati and outside linebacker Jesse Luketa from Penn State—they’ll look to immediately provide juice off the edge after the Cardinals traded away Chandler Jones.
22. Minnesota Vikings
Led by veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins and a roster with plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, the Vikings could be much higher than this in the power rankings and could easily make a push to win the NFC North this season. Their first two draft picks—Georgia safety Lewis Cine and Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr.—can help set the tone on that side of the ball, which will hopefully have a healthy Danielle Hunter getting after the quarterback all season.
23. Detroit Lions
If I had to choose a big three of teams that won draft weekend, I’d say it was the Eagles, the Ravens, and the Lions. Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson was the guy they wanted at No. 2 overall, and they got him; then general manager Brad Holmes deserves a ton of credit for moving all the way up to No. 12—in a trade with the Vikings which I think Detroit clearly got the better end of in terms of draft-pick value, moving up 20 spots twice including near the top ten for pick No. 34—to get dynamic wide receiver Jameson Williams. And in Round 3, Detroit added more off the edge in Kentucky’s Joshua Pascal. I’m in total agreement on how the Lions have approached the quarterback position, committing to Jared Goff, who has had a ton of success in the league.
24. New York Jets
The consensus is that the Jets totally knocked their draft class out of the park—getting Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Jermaine Johnson II, and Breece Hall with their top four picks—but I think groupthink has taken over just a bit, and we’ll see if this is a franchise-altering draft as some have said. However, I will say that New York did an outstanding job of getting players they felt were tops in the class (Gardner, Wilson and Johnson were all in their top eight overall, and they tried to trade back into the first round for Hall before getting him in the second). And there’s no question the Jets are in a much better spot talent and roster wise than they were when general manager Joe Douglas took over.
25. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are another team that felt like they had a spot-on draft according to their typical strategy and history. Mississippi State left tackle Charles Cross instantly fills a need and arguably could have been a top-five pick that Seattle got at No. 9, and the team added Washington State’s Abraham Lucas to likely play right tackle—so the bookends on offense are taken care of. Outside linebacker Boye Mafe is a good fit in the Seahawks defense, Kenneth Walker III is an dynamic running back, and corners Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen (who everyone agrees was a predictable Seahawks pick) will look to compete for roles. I probably would have taken a shot on Malik Willis on Day 2 if I were Seattle, but I think Drew Lock and/or Geno Smith could surprise people this season.
26. Washington Commanders
The Commanders have been criticized by some for their draft, with “experts” deeming a few of their selections to be “reaches”—particularly Jahan Dotson in Round 1—but I do not agree with that. Dotson is a pro-ready receiver that does not have “limited upside” as people argue (people that probably never watched him play), and he’ll take pressure off Terry McLaurin while also making things easier on Carson Wentz at quarterback. Washington also wanted to lighten the rushing load of Antonio Gibson a bit, adding Alabama running back Brian Robinson Jr. in Round 3. Alabama defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis fits right into the rotation, and UNC quarterback Sam Howell might have been a steal at the top of Round 5.
27. New York Giants
I wasn’t that blown away by Day 2 and Day 3 for the Giants during draft weekend, but I believe their first round was a slam dunk in getting Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal at No. 5 and No. 7 overall—new general manager Joe Schoen played things perfectly by going with Thibodeaux first with the expectation of Neal being there a couple of picks later. With Andrew Thomas, Neal, Thibodeaux, and Azeez Ojulari at offensive tackle and edge rusher, the Giants are built well moving forward at critical positions.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars
Georgia defensive end Travon Walker has a good mindset that should make him a safe pick in addition to his immense upside as a potential sack artist, so I see what the Jaguars were thinking with the pick. However, I would have gotten Evan Neal with the top pick to ensure that Trevor Lawrence is protected—we’ll see how it works out. Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd was traded up for at the end of the first round, and he’ll bring more versatility on the defense. Then Jacksonville was able to boost the offensive line with Luke Fortner, add another linebacker in Chad Muma, and target a running back they felt good about for depth and special teams value in Snoop Conner.
29. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons’ signing of Marcus Mariota was one of my favorites of the offseason, as I think the former No. 2 overall pick is certainly a starting quarterback in the league—and I sometimes wonder if the Titans would have had similar success if he remained the starter for them. And if third-round pick Desmond Ridder becomes Atlanta’s starter, Mariota is an ideal veteran to learn from. The Falcons got some needed reinforcements on offense in USC wide receiver Drake London at the eighth overall pick; London and second-year tight end Kyle Pitts are an exciting duo. Defensively, the Falcons got more athletic in adding Penn State edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie and Montana State linebacker (and former quarterback and running back) Troy Anderson in the second round. Atlanta could be higher than this, but London will need to make an immediate impact and more guys will need to step up around him and Pitts.
30. Carolina Panthers
Considering they did not enter the draft with a second- or third-round pick, I think the Panthers had a very positive week. While I preferred Evan Neal, Carolina had their pick of the top three tackles and went with NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu, filling their biggest hole on the roster. The Panthers were also able to move into the end of the third round to get Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, who is an intriguing talent as a passer with a quick release. I like where this roster is at overall, but Sam Darnold or Corral must play well for Carolina to go places in 2022—hence the No. 30 ranking for now, though I remain high on Matt Rhule building a contender if owner David Tepper remains patient with him.
31. Houston Texans
I was interested in seeing what the first full draft for Texans general manager Nick Caserio would look like after he was shorthanded in 2021, and I thought he did a really good job. Caserio, though he said on a television interview that it was not the plan or fully intentional, was able to get productive players from big schools—Derek Stingley Jr. from LSU, Kenyon Green from Texas A&M, John Metchie III and Christian Harris from Alabama, and Dameon Pierce from Florida all coming from top SEC programs. Those guys will be ready to step into Houston’s program and build under Lovie Smith. Stingley at third overall was a pick I liked, as he’s supremely talented and can become a legitimate shutdown cornerback that travels with No. 1 receivers every week.
32. Chicago Bears
The Bears are getting criticized for not doing enough to support second-year quarterback Justin Fields, but first-year general manager Ryan Poles was in a difficult spot without the 2022 top-ten pick that the team traded to secure Fields last year. Chicago expects Washington’s Kyler Gordon to fill in as a long-term option at cornerback opposite Jaylon Johnson, and Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker just feels like a fit in a Bears defense—those two guys were clearly highly valued by new head coach Matt Eberflus. Third-round wide receiver Velus Jones can immediately contribute on special teams and as a player to get the ball to on offense, but expect a ton of Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet in 2022.