Home / frontnfl / Building A 2022 NFL Expansion Team, Part II: The Expansion Draft
AP Photo/ John Froschauer

Building A 2022 NFL Expansion Team, Part II: The Expansion Draft

Part I of the 2022 NFL Expansion Series was completed yesterday, with the creation of the Albuquerque Atoms. Now, it’s time for the 2022 NFL expansion draft. In many cases, determining the players that would be in this year’s player pool wasn’t too difficult­—but there were several teams that would have had a hard time nominating their five players to be eligible for the expansion team to steal. I tried to predict strategy the 32 teams might use; for example, making available a high-salary player or a veteran player they might feel the expansion team might shy away from.




We are using the same rules used back in the 2002 expansion draft. Each NFL team must list five players from their current roster that can be selected among the player pool. However, they cannot be a kicker/punter, cannot be entering free agency after the season, and cannot have been placed on injured reserve during the summer. Also, only one player with more than ten years of NFL experience and only one player that was placed on injured reserve during the season can be on each team’s list.


Once a player is selected from an existing team, one player may be removed from the list. And if two players from one team are selected, all remaining players may be pulled.


As the Albuquerque Atoms, we must either select a) at least 30 players, or b) any number of players that have a combined contract value of at least $71.5 million for the 2022 season.


Available Players


Arizona Cardinals

LB Jordan Hicks

LB Devon Kennard

WR Andy Isabella

OL Joshua Miles

RB Eno Benjmain


Atlanta Falcons

DL Tyeler Davison

RB Mike Davis

DL John Cominsky

DB Kendall Sheffield

DB Luther Kirk


Baltimore Ravens

WR Miles Boykin

S Ar’Darius Washington

OLB Daelin Hayes

DL Broderick Washington

WR Tylan Wallace


Buffalo Bills

LB A.J. Klein

OL Jon Feliciano

OL Daryl Williams

WR Cole Beasley

DL Star Lotulelei


Carolina Panthers

CB A.J. Bouye

DL Morgan Fox

OL Pat Elfein

WR Robbie Anderson

CB Stantley Thomas-Oliver


Chicago Bears

DL Eddie Goldman

LB Danny Trevathan

QB Nick Foles

OLB Jeremiah Attaochu

CB Duke Shelley


Cincinnati Bengals

RB Trayveon Williams

LB Joe Bachi

OL Trey Hill

OL Hakeem Adeniji

DE Khalid Kareem


Cleveland Browns

QB Baker Mayfield

WR Jarvis Landry

OL JC Tretter

TE Austin Hooper

LB Tony Fields


Dallas Cowboys

OT La’el Collins

WR Amari Cooper

WR Simi Fehoko

QB Will Grier

DL Quinton Bohanna


Denver Broncos

OL Graham Glasgow

OLB Aaron Patrick

OL Netane Muti

OLB Jonathon Cooper

S Jamar Johnson


Detroit Lions

OLB Trey Flowers

LB Curtis Bolton

S Brady Breeze

RB Jermar Jefferson

RB Craig Reynolds


Green Bay Packers

OLB Za’Darius Smith

OL Billy Turner

LB Ty Summers

WR Juwan Winfree

TE Josiah Deguara


Houston Texans

CB Terrance Mitchell

OL Marcus Cannon

CB Jimmy Moreland

OL Justin McCray

RB Scottie Phillips


Indianapolis Colts

LB Jordan Glasgow

QB Sam Ehlinger

WR Dezmon Patmon

WR Mike Strachan

OL Will Fries


Jacksonville Jaguars

TE Luke Farrell

RB Ryquell Armstead

LB Chappelle Russell

DL Jay Tufele

CB Brandon Rusnak


Kansas City Chiefs

LB Anthony Hitchens

OL Nick Allegretti

DL Khalen Saunders

DE Joshua Kaindoh

DL Tershawn Wharton


Las Vegas Raiders

LB Cory Littleton

LB Nick Kwiatkoski

DE Carl Nassib

OL Jackson Barton

DE Clelin Ferrell


Los Angeles Chargers

OL Bryan Bulaga

OL Brendan Jaimes

QB Easton Stick

RB Larry Rountree III

LB Nick Niemann


Los Angeles Rams

DB Grant Haley

LB Christan Rozeboom

OL Tremayne Ancrhum Jr.

OL Bobby Evans

WR Ben Skowronek


Miami Dolphins

OL Jesse Davis

OL Greg Little

OL Robert Jones

OLB Darius Hodge

WR Lynn Bowden Jr.


Minnesota Vikings

DL Michael Pierce

FB C.J. Ham

TE Ben Ellefson

OL Blake Brandel

CB Harrison Hand


New England Patriots

LB Kyle Van Noy

WR N’Keal Harry

TE Devin Asiasi

CB Joejuan Williams

S Cody Davis


New Orleans Saints

LS Zach Wood

OL Landon Young

OL James Hurst

OL Calvin Throckmorton

WR Marquez Callaway


New York Giants

WR Kenny Golladay

RB Devontae Booker

TE Kyle Rudolph

DB Logan Ryan

CB James Bradberry


New York Jets

OL Greg Van Roten

TE Trevon Wesco

RB La’Mical Perine

RB Ty Johnson

DB Rachad Wildgoose


Philadelphia Eagles

OL Sua Opeta

OL Le’Raven Clark

DL Marlon Tuipulotu

DE Patrick Johnson

LS Rick Lovato


Pittsburgh Steelers

OL Zach Banner

LB Joe Schobert

OL Joe Haeg

RB Anthony McFarland

RB Benny Snell


San Francisco 49ers

DE Dee Ford

LS Taybor Pepper

TE Charlie Woerner

RB JaMycal Hasty

RB Trey Sermon



Seattle Seahawks

LB Bobby Wagner

DE Benson Mayowa

OL Stone Forsythe

QB Jacob Eason

TE Colby Parkinson


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

OL Nick Leverett

LB Grant Stuard

OLB Cam Gill

WR Scotty Miller

WR Tyler Johnson


Tennessee Titans

WR Julio Jones

RB Darrynton Evans

OL Kendall Lamm

OL Rodger Saffold

OL Aaron Brewer


Washington Commanders

OL Ereck Flowers Sr.

DL Matt Ioannidis

S Deshazor Everett

LS Camaron Cheeseman

WR Curtis Samuel


The Selections


It was very difficult to narrow down my picks for the expansion draft this year. There were a bunch of players that I wanted to select that I ended up not going through with it—in most cases, it had to do with the cap hit. For example, Bobby Wagner, Za’Darius Smith, Jarvis Landry, Kenny Golladay, Logan Ryan, Curtis Samuel, Anthony Hitchens, and some other players are simply at too high of a price for an expansion team. And in the expansion draft, teams can pull a player when you select one from their team; so in the case of a team like the Commanders, another player I select means they can pull Curtis Samuel, who is a good fit in their offense if he can stay healthy. These were the final selections after a cost-benefit analysis and taking many factors into account:


Pick 1: LB Jordan Hicks ($8,500,000)

I knew ahead of this exercise that Jordan Hicks would be someone available in the expansion draft, but it didn’t register to me until now that he was nicknamed “Simba” during his time with the Eagles—and now he’ll be playing for the “Mufasa” to his Simba in former teammate and Atoms head coach DeMeco Ryans. Coach Ryans can rely on Hicks to lead his defense this season. I’ve always been a fan of Hicks’ all-around game, and he’s racked up over 116 tackles in each of the past three seasons (and a career-high 4.0 sacks in 2021).


Pick 2: QB Baker Mayfield ($18,858,000)

This wasn’t a slam-dunk selection because it is a costly cap hit, but it’s difficult to pass on Baker Mayfield as a solid option at quarterback for at least this season. The former No. 1 overall pick has shown that he can help a team get to the playoffs, and there’s no doubt he has a chip on his shoulder after the Browns wanted to move on (both in real life and in this theoretical expansion where they made him available).


Pick 3: WR Julio Jones ($22,000,000)

This salary goes against what I wrote above about not wanting to spend too much. But, even at 33 years old, it’s Julio Jones—one of the best receivers of all-time—we’re talking about. We can run our passing game through Jones and ensure he gets enough targets every Sunday. Also, even if Julio doesn’t provide top production on the field, he’s an unselfish player that will be a tremendous leader and example for the younger players on the team. This is our only good shot at Jones, as he’d be looking elsewhere during free agency.


Pick 4: CB James Bradberry ($14,500,000)

All the options that the Giants put up for the expansion draft were in consideration, but cornerback is such an important position in today’s NFL that it’s a good idea to lock up someone that can be a No. 1 option. James Bradberry was one of my favorite signings of the real offseason when the Eagles got him late in the process. Bradberry will turn just 29 this summer, so he should at least have a couple of years left of top-ten upside at corner.


Pick 5: OL La’el Collins ($10,000,000)

La’el Collins was one of the most coveted free agents this offseason when he was released by Dallas for salary cap reasons, but we’re able to avoid competition and can add him in the expansion draft. Collins can also play guard, but we’ll likely slot him in as our starting right tackle.


Pick 6: RB Trey Sermon ($1,107,485)

For whatever reason, it seems the 49ers were not high on 2021 third-round pick Trey Sermon during his rookie campaign. So, it wouldn’t be surprising if he was made available for us to think about selecting. DeMeco Ryans got to see him up close on the practice field last season with the Niners, and I was high on his one-cut ability coming out of Ohio State. All the running backs available are intriguing, but Sermon is my clear top choice.


Pick 7: EDGE Dee Ford ($6,949,997)

There is a chance that the Niners would pull back Dee Ford after we take Sermon, but the former Chiefs pass rusher hasn’t been on the field much for San Francisco, so they might want to just move on at this point. We’ll take a shot on the Auburn product regaining his form while continuing to play in a Ryans-coached defense.


Pick 8: OL Ereck Flowers ($10,000,000)

Adding Ereck Flowers at guard gives us another tough, versatile piece that can help set the tone up front. I can stomach $10 million each for Collins and Flowers as we build up the offensive line.


Pick 9: EDGE Clelin Ferrell ($9,978,442)

One of the most surprising top-five picks in recent memory, Clelin Ferrell was selected at No. 4 by the Raiders in 2019 partly due to his leadership ability and helping set a culture. An expansion team could use that; and even if Ferrell doesn’t produce as a pass rusher, he should help set the edge and play the run well.


Pick 10: CB A.J. Bouye ($3,500,000)

We can take advantage of the two-year contract A.J. Bouye signed with the Panthers last offseason, as $3.5 million with one year remaining on the deal means little risk for a veteran corner with experience.


Pick 11: OL Billy Turner ($7,000,000)

It’s hard not to like Billy Turner’s versatility on the offensive line—he’s played well at right tackle, right guard, and left tackle for the Packers over the past three seasons. The Atoms can feel confident about him at left tackle if we don’t land anyone else during free agency or the draft.


Pick 12: WR Cole Beasley ($7,250,000)

Cole Beasley was released in real life (upon his request) and has yet to land with another team. The veteran receiver has 82 receptions in each of the past two seasons and profiles as a nice fit as an underneath target for Baker Mayfield.


Pick 13: QB Nick Foles ($8,000,000)

While Mayfield will enter camp as the favorite to be our starter, I still think Nick Foles can play at a high level if given time in the pocket. The former Super Bowl MVP will be a superb locker room presence for an expansion roster.


Pick 14: WR Tyler Johnson ($973,605)

Tyler Johnson has been a bit up and down early in his career with the Bucs as he looks to gain the long-term trust of Tom Brady, and we had a choice of him or Scotty Miller here. I’ll go with Johnson, who I liked coming out of Minnesota. Tampa Bay pulled Miller after this selection.


Pick 15: WR Marquez Callaway ($898,334)

The Saints had to make some tough decisions on which players to make available, and they couldn’t sneak Marquez Callaway past the Atoms. Callaway has big-play ability that should pair nicely with Julio, Beasley, and Tyler Johnson.


Pick 16: LB A.J. Klein ($6,000,000)

I seriously considered all five of the players the Bills made available to select for the expansion roster, but A.J. Klein’s past production and acceptable salary made him a strong pairing next to Jordan Hicks at linebacker.


Pick 17: DL Tershawn Wharton ($896,667)

The Chiefs were another team that had to make players available that they would have liked to keep, and we were able to add Tershawn Wharton on the interior defensive line. Wharton has two sacks in each of his first two NFL seasons.


Pick 18: DL Star Lotulelei ($6,200,000)

Buffalo parted ways with a handful of veterans in real life, so they wouldn’t be doing much pulling back during the expansion draft. We’ll add our third former Bill to the roster, beefing up the defensive line with Star Lotulelei.


Pick 19: OL Pat Elfein ($4,234,559)

Former Ohio State All-American Pat Elfein can play at either center or right guard (we already have Ereck Flowers set to man left guard), and he comes at a very reasonable price at just over $4 million.


Pick 20: OL Greg Little ($1,536,672)

Greg Little is a former second-round pick out of Ole Miss with upside. If he can put everything together as early as this summer, we could have a franchise left tackle at 24 years old (in which case Billy Turner can move over to right guard).


Pick 21: EDGE Benson Mayowa ($3,810,000)

Benson Mayowa has 27.0 sacks in his career, including six sacks a couple of seasons ago. Hopefully our coaching staff can unlock similar production this year.


Pick 22: CB Jimmy Moreland ($3,250,000)

Jimmy Moreland is a competitive player that can immediately slide in at nickelback, where he has experience. Coach Ryans’ defense is going to be aggressive, and our initial top three corners can challenge opposing wide receivers.


Pick 23: S Rudy Ford ($2,100,000)

Last season for a bad Jaguars team, Rudy Ford was able to get good playing experience (four starts in 15 games), making 53 tackles while intercepting one pass. Ford has been seen as a key special-teams contributor in the past, but he took advantage of his biggest opportunity on defense in 2021.


Pick 24: TE Kyle Rudolph ($6,000,000)

This is another selection that should help in the locker room, as Kyle Rudolph is highly regarded around the league. And it’s easy to envision the six-foot-six target emerging as a top red-zone threat for Mayfield.


Pick 25: OL Bobby Evans ($1,170,545)

Bobby Evans fits what we’ve been adding to the offensive line at this point, as he can play both tackle and guard. The former Oklahoma Sooner was the No. 97 pick by the Rams in 2019.


Pick 26: LB Chapelle Russell ($843,734)

In one start for the Jaguars last season, Chapelle Russell recorded eight tackles. He’ll at least be a core member of our special-teams unit, with the upside for more on defense.


Pick 27: WR Tylan Wallace ($996,341)

Determining the five guys the Ravens would make available might have been the most difficult. In an offense that runs more so in the middle of the field than out wide, 2021 fourth-round pick Tylan Wallace was an option for us as we continue to round out the early receiving group.


Pick 28: EDGE Joshua Kaindoh ($949,836)

Six-foot-seven, 265-pound defensive end Joshua Kaindoh has major upside off the edge, and this pick is with the assumption that the Chiefs did not pull him after we already made a pick from their five.


Pick 29: DL Jay Tufele ($1,031,422)

We need more depth on the defensive line, and former USC defensive tackle Jay Tufele is another 2021 fourth-round pick that the Atoms have an opportunity to add.


Pick 30: OL Tremayne Anchrum Jr. ($913,873)

The Rams pipeline is targeted again with Tremayne Anchrum Jr., who was a two-time national champion at Clemson and should at least provide solid depth on the offensive line.


Pick 31: OL Justin McCray ($2,589,705)

As an undrafted player in 2014, Justin McCray has done quite well and shown a lot of perseverance to remain in the league (while playing for a couple of teams in another league from 2016-2017). We could use that on the Atoms. McCray will likely have a shot to compete for a starting role.


Pick 32: S Cody Davis ($2,300,000)

Cody Davis gives us our second safety from the expansion draft, but the expectation is that he’ll be highly productive on special teams for us—with a chance to carve out a role on defense.


Pick 33: TE Devin Asiasi ($1,230,240)

The Patriots signed Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith at tight end last offseason, so Devin Asiasi is expendable and was made available. I like him coming out of UCLA, and the size and soft hands are something to work with at tight end.


Pick 34: LS Rick Lovato ($1,085,000)

The Eagles were among the teams that made their long-snapper available in what were tough decisions. The Atoms end the expansion draft by making sure we’re set at that position.


Current Roster


When mapping this all out, I knew we were going to be tighter to the cap than we might like to be—but the feeling was that we would not be going hard after top free agents, as they mostly don’t profile as ideal fits for an expansion club. And compared to last year, the cap made a considerable jump with COVID moving in the rearview. Overall, I think the Atoms will definitely need more juice on defense moving forward, but the offense is coming together nicely with veteran pieces including a potentially stout offensive line.


Salary cap: $208,200,000

Total payroll: $176,654,457

Cap space: $31,545,543


QB: Baker Mayfield // Nick Foles

RB: Trey Sermon

WR: Julio Jones // Tylan Wallace

WR: Marquez Callaway // Tyler Johnson

WR: Cole Beasley

TE: Kyle Rudolph // Devin Asiasi

OT: Billy Turner // Greg Little

OG: Ereck Flowers Sr. // Tremayne Anchrum Jr.


OG: Pat Elfiein // Justin McCray

OT: La’el Collins // Bobby Evans


EDGE: Dee Ford // Joshua Kaindoh

DL: Star Lotulelei // Jay Tufele

DL: Tershawn Wharton

EDGE: Clelin Ferrell // Benson Mayowa

LB: Jordan Hicks // Chapelle Russell

LB: A.J. Klein

CB: James Bradberry

S: Rudy Ford

S: Cody Davis

CB: A.J. Bouye

NB: Jimmy Moreland




LS: Rick Lovato


Check back tomorrow for Part III of the 2022 NFL expansion series, with NFL free agency!