The 2022 NFL Draft is over and it was a very interesting one. Lots of movement throughout the draft but even on day 1 there were trades throughout and players moving and falling like crazy. Even with all that it’s pretty easy on paper to decide winners and losers from this draft, most teams with 2 picks got good value and no team did something outlandishly stupid this year. Even then, it’s important to remember that the situations these players are drafted into will mostly determine how their careers turn out. So with that, let’s take a look at which players got drafted to perfect schemes. Please note it’s not looking at the player and team individually it’s looking at them as a collective, the team had a problem and they took a player that fixes that problem.
Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit Lions
It was a surprise to see Hutchinson not go first overall but that’s not what this is about. Hutchinson goes from Michigan to Detroit and Dan Campbell gets a face for his defense right away. If you take outside matters into account the Lions get a home grown game wrecker who they can rally behind right out of the gate. It’s always great when players get to play close to home and most fans of the Detroit Lions are probably Michigan fans anyway so this from a marketing stand point is easy to sell to the fans. From a football point of view however it’s even better. Detroit needs pieces to build around, think of a bad football team as a sinking ship that’s broken down with holes everywhere. In order to fix this you need pieces to patch those holes and fix the problems and the Lions are starting to patch their holes. When you are as bad and dysfunctional as the Lions have been eventually things start to turn around whether it’s luck or the right coaching hire and when you consistently draft on the top 10 eventually you will hit on a pick or two. Three years ago the Lions drafted eighth overall and took tight end T.J Hockenson who’s become the a solid tight end and their best receiving weapon, the year after that they drafted corner back Jeff Okudah third overall and injuries have really hindered him, in 2020 they drafted Penei Sewell who had a great rookie year and looks to lock up their left tackle spot for years to come. When you draft as high as the Lions have been for the past four years, it can only goes up from here and Hutchinson looks to add to what the Lions are trying to build.
Kyle Hamilton, Baltimore Ravens
Hamilton falls to 14 and the Ravens get to add to a secondary that already has three pro bowlers in Marcus Williams, Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey. Hamilton is a game changer and before the draft was a personal favorite prospect of mine and now he gets to be another piece in a stacked secondary and learn from some of the best. The Ravens were killed by injuries last season and that is the only reason they were even picking that high. Now the Ravens get all their players back from injury and add to their strengths with selecting Hamilton. Straight up I love this pick and think Hamilton is an immediate defensive rookie of the year candidate just by being added to one of the leagues top defenses. At Notre Dame, Hamilton was known for his ability to make plays all over the field, at 220 pounds and long arms he’s a great form tackler in the open field. The league is moving towards an air attack and it’s important to have a good secondary, even with all the injuries to the ravens last season their secondary gave up the most passing yards in the league and got torched badly on multiple occasions most notably by their division rivals in Cincinnati when they gave up a combined 907 passing yards in the two times they played the Bengal's. Baltimore is going to be on a revenge tour this up coming season and it’s all or nothing for this squad and with the secondary getting healthy plus the addition of Kyle Hamilton they have no excuses this time around.
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers
If you were one of the people that thought that we were going to have a first round without a quarterback being taken shame on you. Pittsburgh is in some interesting waters these days as for the first time they’ve drafted a quarterback in the first round since drafting Ben Roethlisberger back in 2004. Everyone knew they needed a quarterback it was just a mater of which one they wanted and the answer was the hometown hero in Kenny Pickett. I’m not here to debate Pickett vs Willis or anything like that but Pickett getting drafted to a team with a functional front office, good coaching staff, viable weapons and an elite defense is more then any other top quarterbacks taken has gotten in past years. Trevor Lawrence as much of a generational talent as he was coming out of Clemson got drafted to one of the worst-run teams in the league in Jacksonville, even Joe Burrow at the time got drafted to a terrible Bengals squad. Most top quarterbacks get drafted to bad places that they are forced to try and turn around, while Pickett is getting drafted to an already established team that’s going to help him figure it out. Whether you like Pickett or not he’s being given everything he needs to succeed and he’s not being forced to do everything.
Kaiir Elam, Buffalo Bills
One of the worst kept secrets of this draft was the need for the Buffalo Bills to find a a second corner to pair alongside Tre White in the secondary. Whether Elam was the best corner available when the Bills selected isn’t the point, Elam gets to play in a stacked secondary on the best defense in the league. Buffalo has been able to put together a really good pass defense every single year since Sean McDermott and company took over in Buffalo. Its easy to see why there’s a lot of hype in Buffalo around Elam just based on what the Bills organization can do for him as a player. Coming out of Florida, Elam was regarded as an athletic corner who makes aggressive plays on the ball, with 4.4 40-speed and good size, he’s something the Bills haven’t had in their secondary. Everyone and their mothers have heard the saying “speed kills” and it’s true; the league is getting faster and faster and in order to compete, teams have to have corners who can keep up with the speedy receivers and Elam can do just that for Buffalo.
Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints
I felt the need to include a receiver on this list just from how loaded the 2022 draft class was on wideouts. Olave was by no means the best receiver in this class but he is the one drafted to the best situation. Drake London and Garrett Wilson were both taken ahead of Olave and for obvious reasons but both were drafted to worse teams and with the expectations of being the number one wideout on the roster, Olave on the other hand gets to play with Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry and will get some big play opportunities with Jameis Winston throwing him the ball. Olave is a perfect deep threat weapon as in college he totaled over 2,700 receiving yards to go alongside 25 total touchdowns in four seasons, as well as having 13 touchdowns last season while playing alongside Garrett Wilson at Ohio State. Every team wants a receiver who can go long and get it and Olave’s biggest strength is his ability to win down field. Pair that with Jameis Winston throwing him the ball, it wouldn’t shock me if Olave had 1,000 receiving yards in his rookie year.
Honorable mentions: Ahmed Sauce Gardner, Derek Stingley, Trevor Penning, Tyler Linderbaum, Trent Mcduffie.
The 2022 Draft was a weird one and even after all this time has past it still blows my mind the that the Jets and Giants actually had good drafts. Those are the five guys who I believe got drafted to prime spots to succeed. If you have a different feeling or think of another player who got drafted to a perfect spot let me know in comments.