NFL draft 2022 live blog: Follow rounds 4-7 on Yahoo Sports

·29-min read

The 2022 NFL draft is underway in Las Vegas, and we'll be following all the action live. Follow each pick by visiting our live draft page. And check out the PFF Draft Tracker with in-depth analysis on every single pick.

Iowa State QB Brock Purdy is 2022's Mr. Irrelevant

The 2022 NFL draft officially came to a close with the crowning of Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy as Mr. Irrelevant. The San Francisco 49ers drafted him with the 262nd overall pick at the end of the seventh round.

As far as Mr. Irrelevants go, Purdy is pretty relevant, at least as far as college football goes. He is coming off two straight All-Big 12 first team selections, with 3,188 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his sneior year.

Georgia sets record with 15 players selected

We're beginning to think Georgia was pretty good last season.

With Derion Kendrick and John FitzPatrick's back-to-back selections near the end of the sixth round, the Bulldogs have officially set the record for most players selected from a school in a single draft. That includes five defensive players taken in the first round, another record.

Steelers draft All-Pro Cameron Heyward's brother

It's not hard to blame the Pittsburgh Steelers for wanting to double-dip with the Heyward family.

With the 30th pick of the sixth round (208th overall), the Steelers selected Michigan State fullback Connor Heyward, brother of their All-Pro defensive tackle Cameron Heyward. The elder Heyward seemed pretty happy.

Buffalo Bills select the 'punt god'

The team that never punts is bringing in a player nicknamed the "punt god." The Buffalo Bills selected San Diego State punter Matt Araiza with the first pick in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL draft.

Araiza earned the nickname the "punt god" at San Diego State for his powerful punts. Bills fans might not see him in action much considering the team's aggressive play style, but Araiza still found a way to endear himself to fans Saturday.

Despite his nickname, the "punt god" was the third punter taken in the 2022 NFL draft.

Commanders select Sam Howell

North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell waited a long time, but was finally selected on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL draft. Howell, who some believed would be an early-round pick last year, was taken by the Washington Commanders in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL draft.

Howell received a second-round grade from Yahoo Sports' draft expert Eric Edholm. Howell isn't the tallest passer, but has a strong deep ball and is surprisingly mobile. He'll need to work on his ability to go through reads in the NFL.

Patriots grab another quarterback

The New England Patriots brought in some competition for Mac Jones on Saturday. The team selected quarterback Bailey Zappe in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft.

Zappe comes to the team with one impressive season under his belt. He threw for a record 62 touchdowns at Western Kentucky in his only season with the team. Though his numbers were strong, Zappe was not considered an elite quarterback prospect.

Zappe will likely serve as a backup to Jones, who the team selected in the first round last season.

Special teams players make appearances in round four

You always expect a few kickers and punters to be selected in the NFL draft, but not this early. The Cleveland Browns became the first team to snag a kicker in the 2022 NFL draft. The team took LSU kicker Cade York in the fourth round Saturday. It was the highest a kicker has been drafted since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Robert Aguayo in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft.

The Baltimore Ravens. and Tampa Bay Buccaneers followed suit, picking up punters with their fourth-round picks. The Ravens selected Penn State punter Jordan Stout with the 130th pick. The Bucs grabbed Georgia's Jake Camarda with the 133rd pick.

San Diego State punter Matt Araiza, known as the "punt god" for his booming kicks, remained available until the sixth round, when he was taken by the Buffalo Bills.

49ers cap Day 2 with Danny Gray

The San Francisco 49ers ended the second day of the draft with SMU wide receiver Danny Gray.

The 49ers picked right after the Rams made their first pick of the draft. The Super Bowl champs took Wisconsin guard Logan Bruss a pick after Wisconsin LB Leo Chenal went to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Panthers trade up for Matt Corral

We can probably rule the Panthers out among potential landing spots for Baker Mayfield.

Carolina traded its way into the third round to take Ole Miss QB Matt Corral with the 94th pick in the draft. Corral was the fourth QB taken after Malik Willis was taken earlier in the round.

Corral completed at least 68% of his passes in each of the last two seasons at Ole Miss and threw 49 TDs and just 19 interceptions. He threw for 3,349 yards and 20 TDs in 2021 while rushing for 614 yards and 11 TDs. He suffered an ankle injury in the Sugar Bowl in January but should be fully healthy for training camp and is in line to compete with Sam Darnold to be the Panthers’ starting QB.

The Panthers traded No. 137 in this year’s draft and a third-round pick in the 2023 draft to move up to pick Corral.

Titans take Malik Willis

The Titans drafted Liberty QB Malik Willis with the 86th pick in the draft. Willis was the third quarterback selected behind Kenny Pickett and Desmond Ridder.

Willis fell to the third round after no quarterbacks were taken in the second round and immediately slots in as Ryan Tannehill’s backup and potential long-term replacement. Willis was the most dynamic rushing and passing QB in the draft and completed 61% of his passes and threw 27 TDs and 12 interceptions in 2021. He also rushed 197 times for 878 yards and 13 touchdowns. He scored 74 total touchdowns in two seasons at Liberty after transferring from Auburn.

Nakobe Dean heads to the Eagles

The Eagles stopped Nakobe Dean’s draft fall and took the Georgia linebacker at No. 83.

Dean was the team’s second-leading tackler in 2021 with 72 tackles and had 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks to go with two interceptions as he made plays all over the field for the national champions. Dean was considered a possible first-round pick ahead of the draft but fell past the top 80 picks due to a reported pec injury that could need surgery.

Dean will join Georgia teammate Jordan Davis in Philadelphia. The Eagles took Davis in the first round before trading their second first-round pick to the Titans for wide receiver A.J. Brown.

Falcons break the QB drought, take Desmond Ridder

Atlanta now has Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder in its quarterback room.

The Falcons took the Cincinnati QB at No. 74 in the third round. Ridder is the second QB off the board behind Kenny Pickett at No. 20.

Ridder completed 65% of his passes and threw 30 TDs to just eight interceptions in 2021. He finished his career with nearly eight yards an attempt and tossed 87 TDs and 28 interceptions.

The wait on another QB and Nakobe Dean continues

The first 70 picks of the draft included just one QB in Kenny Pickett and didn’t include Georgia LB Nakobe Dean.

Dean, per reports, has a pec injury that could need surgery. But he was arguably the best player on Georgia’s terrifying defense in 2021 and numerous linebackers have been taken ahead of him.

The drought between Pickett and whoever the next quarterback taken will be is longer than the drought between Chad Pennington at 18 and Giovanni Carmazzi at No. 65 in 2000.

Bills take Dalvin Cook’s brother

The Buffalo Bills picked Georgia RB James Cook with the No. 63 pick on Friday night. Dalvin’s younger brother averaged over six yards a carry in 2021 and is also a receiving threat. He had 27 catches for 284 yards and four TDs.

The Broncos then closed out the second round with Oklahoma LB Nik Bonitto.

Falcons go with Troy Andersen over Nakobe Dean

Georgia LB Nakobe Dean was available for the Atlanta Falcons at No. 58 and Atlanta went with Montana State LB Troy Andersen instead.

Anderson started his college career as a quarterback before switching to defense. He’s been a phenomenal linebacker at the FCS level, but his selection over Dean — potentially the best player on Georgia’s defense in 2021 — seems a little puzzling. If Dean has more success in the NFL than Andersen does, there are going to be a lot of Georgia residents upset about the pick.

Steelers take George Pickens, start mini WR run

The Steelers took QB Kenny Pickett in the first round and then Georgia wide receiver George Pickens in the second. Pickens missed most of the 2021 season because of an ACL injury but has been a dynamic deep threat when on the field. He had 85 catches for 1,240 yards and 14 TDs over the course of the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

The Colts then took Cincinnati WR Alec Pierce with the pick after Pickens and the Chiefs followed with Western Michigan WR Skyy Moore. Pierce ran a 4.41 40 at the combine and had the best vertical leap. Moore dominated the MAC in 2021 with 95 catches for 1,292 yards and 10 TDs. He’ll be endlessly compared to Tyreek Hill after the Chiefs traded Hill to the Dolphins earlier in the offseason.

Patriots trade up for Baylor WR

New England moved up from No. 54 to No. 50 to take Baylor wide receiver Tyquan Thornton. He had 62 catches for 948 yards and 10 TDs in 2021 as a senior. He caught 19 TDS across four seasons with the Bears and could immediately contribute to a New England passing offense that needs a boost. Thornton, however, was widely projected to go in the third round or later.

The Patriots gave the Chiefs pick No. 158 to move up four spots.

Ravens take David Ojabo

Baltimore took Michigan DE David Ojabo with pick No. 45 on Friday night. Ojabo was poised to be a top-20 pick before he tore his Achilles at his pro day in March. Ojabo may not be ready to play right away because of the injury, but he reunites with former Michigan defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. He was named Baltimore’s defensive coordinator in January after running Michigan’s excellent defense in 2021.

The Texans traded up to No. 44 to pick Alabama WR John Metchie III before Ojabo was selected. Metchie tore an ACL during the SEC championship game.

Vikings take Andrew Booth after Ed Marinaro’s filibuster

Former Vikings player Ed Marinaro got to announce the team’s pick on Friday night and, well, he announced it after he made a speech. Marinaro talked for so long — 2 minutes and 34 seconds! — before announcing that Minnesota had traded up to select Clemson CB Andrew Booth that someone from the draft came on stage to tell him to hurry up and make the pick.

The Vikings moved back up in the second round to get Booth by trading with the Colts. Minnesota had the No. 34 pick entering the night after a trade on Thursday night and moved back after trading with the Packers.

Seattle goes RB over QB

Seattle had picks Nos. 40 and 41 in the second round and didn’t use either on a quarterback. The Seahawks took Minnesota DE Boye Mafe and then took Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III with the second pick.

Walker was the best running back in college football in 2021 and joins a backfield that includes Chris Carson and former first-round pick Rashaad Penny. The Seahawks seem committed to wanting to run the ball a lot in 2022 with Drew Lock and Geno Smith as the team’s top two quarterbacks. Maybe Seattle didn’t like the draft class? Is it going to trade for Baker Mayfield and take a chance on him? Is it going to refuse to throw the football entirely?

Falcons trade up for Arnold Ebiketie

The Atlanta Falcons traded up for pick No. 38 and immediately made people wonder if it was for QB Malik Willis. It was not. The Falcons took Penn State DE Arnold Ebiketie. The Temple transfer was a fantastic edge rusher at Penn State wit 9.5 sacks in 2021 and bolsters what was a very weak Atlanta pass rush.

The Chicago Bears then took Washington CB Kyler Gordon after the Falcons. That was the Bears’ first pick of the night after trading away their 2022 first-round pick as part of the deal to move up to get Justin Fields in 2021. Gordon is the second Washington corner taken after Trent McDuffie was drafted by the Chiefs on Thursday night.

Jets take the first running back

The New York Jets traded with the New York Giants to take Iowa State running back Breece Hall at No. 36. Hall is the first running back taken in the 2022 draft and joins a young offense that includes QB Zach Wilson and WR Garrett Wilson.

Hall has been one of the best running backs in college football over the last two seasons and should immediately be the Jets starter. He also had 59 catches over the last two seasons.

The Tennessee Titans took Auburn CB Roger McCreary right before Hall and the Texans took Baylor CB Jalen Pitre after the Jets chose Hall.

Packers get their receiver

The Packers moved up to No. 34 to get a wide receiver. Green Bay gave Minnesota Nos. 53 and No. 59 to move up to select North Dakota State wide receiver Christian Watson. He will immediately be counted on to help replace Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Adams was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders and Valdes-Scantling left in free agency.

Watson is a raw receiver with great physical tools. He had 43 catches for 801 yards in 2021.

Bucs begin Day 2 with a defensive lineman

Tampa Bay chose Houston DL Logan Hall with the first pick of the second round on Friday. Tampa traded out of the first round on Thursday night as the Jaguars jumped back into the first round. Hall had 6.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss in 2021 and could immediately join the Bucs’ pass rush rotation.

Can a sombrero play wide receiver?

Packers running back Aaron Jones is at the draft on Friday night and was sporting his sombrero. It’s a good look. Can it play wide receiver?

We’ll see if the Packers will draft a receiver on Friday night. A sombrero would have a good catch radius. And a height advantage over defenders. Aaron Rodgers could probably hit it in stride too.

Top players available on Day 2

Liberty QB Malik Willis leads the field of available players on Friday. Willis could even be available when the Seattle Seahawks select at No. 40 on Friday night.

Iowa State RB Breece Hall, Georgia LB Nakobe Dean, Clemson CB Andrew Booth and UConn DT Travis Jones are among the players who are still available on Friday. Check back here starting at 7 p.m. ET on Friday for our live coverage of the second and third rounds of the draft.

Safeties end the first round

Cincinnati used No. 31 on adaptable Michigan defensive back Dax Hill. He can play nearly every position in the secondary for the Bengals as they look to get back to the Super Bowl after upsetting the Chiefs in the AFC title game.

The Vikings then ended the first round with Georgia safety Lewis Cine. He became the fifth member of Georgia’s national title-winning defense to go in the first round and the third safety to go in the first round along with Hill and Kyle Hamilton.

Chiefs take George Karlaftis

The Chiefs used their second pick of the first round on Purdue’s George Karlaftis and doubled up on defense.

Karlaftis had five sacks in 2021 as one of the better defensive ends in the Big Ten in 2021. He should immediately become a mainstay on the edge for the Chiefs as Kansas City attempts to bolster a pass rush that was very weak a season ago.

The Patriots chose Chattanooga guard Cole Strange with the pick before the Chiefs’ second first-round selection. Strange seems, pardon the pun, the strangest pick of the first round so far.

Packers take another Georgia defender

The Green Bay Packers doubled up on Georgia defenders in the first round with the selection of Devonte Wyatt at No. 28.

Green Bay entered the draft with an obvious need at wide receiver but any receiver picks will have to wait until the second day at the very least. The Packers clearly saw the NFL talent on Georgia’s defense in 2021 and were impressed enough with both Walker and Wyatt to make them two of the four Georgia defenders selected in the first round.

Jermaine Johnson, Devin Lloyd finally come off the board

Some mock drafts projected Florida State pass rusher Jermaine Johnson in the top 10. Instead, he lasted all the way to No. 26. The New York Jets traded up to pick Johnson, ending his long wait in the Las Vegas green room.

Johnson had a long route to the Jets. He had no FBS offers out of high school and ended up at Independence Community College, where he was featured on "Last Chance U." From there, he transferred to Georgia and was part of the team's defensive line rotation for two seasons. Seeking a more prominent role, he transferred to Florida State and became the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year. And now he's a first-round pick. What a story.

Similarly, Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd was seen as a surefire first-rounder but he ended up falling all the way to No. 27 to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who traded back into the first round to make the pick. Lloyd, who started his college career as a safety, totaled 249 tackles, 43 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks and five interceptions over his final three seasons with the Utes.

Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson II waves as he is introduced during the first round of the NFL football draft Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson II waves as he is introduced during the first round of the NFL football draft Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Cowboys, Ravens snag offensive linemen

The Dallas Cowboys sat tight throughout the night and picked Tulsa tackle Tyler Smith at No. 24 overall. Smith was an unheralded recruit, but ended up holding down the starting left tackle spot for the majority of his time with the Golden Hurricane.

With the 25th pick, the Ravens grabbed the best center in the draft — Iowa's Tyler Linderbaum. Linderbaum actually played defensive tackle when he arrived at Iowa, but he emerged as one of the Big Ten's best players after moving over to center. In all, Linderbaum started 35 games at center for the Hawkeyes, earning All-Big Ten and All-America honors in 2020 and 2021.

Packers use first pick on defense, Bills trade up for CB

Green Bay didn’t take an offensive player with its first pick.

Instead, the Packers picked Georgia linebacker Quay Walker at No. 22. The pick used on Walker was acquired from the Raiders in the trade that sent Davante Adams to Las Vegas and Walker became the first linebacker taken ahead of both Nakobe Dean and Devin Lloyd.

After Green Bay's pick, the Buffalo Bills moved to up to snag a cornerback they coveted at No. 23 — Florida's Kaiir Elam. The Bills made a deal with the Ravens to make it happen and picked the junior UF.

Chiefs trade up for Trent McDuffie

The Chiefs traded up eight spots in the draft to select Washington CB Trent McDuffie.

Kansas City gave up Nos. 29, 94 and 101 to the New England Patriots as they find a corner to replace Charvarious Ward. Kansas City entered the draft needing to bolster the defense and McDuffie could start right away either in the slot or on the outside. Ward left for San Francisco in free agency and the Chiefs also signed Justin Reid to replace Tyrann Mathieu.

The Patriots got good value to move back in the draft as they are apt to do and could still take a wide receiver at the end of the round.

The Chiefs still have pick No. 30 on Thursday night after trading Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins.

Steelers take Kenny Pickett at No. 20

The Pittsburgh Steelers became the first team to take a QB on Thursday night by picking Pitt QB Kenny Pickett.

Pickett was a Heisman finalist as a senior in 2021 and completed 67% of his passes for 4,319 yards and 42 TDs to just seven interceptions. Pitt’s offense was one of the best in the country a season ago and now Pickett can play his home games in the NFL in the same stadium he played at in college.

Pickett will begin the 2022 season ostensibly as the backup behind Mitch Trubisky. The former Chicago Bears first-rounder was signed by the Steelers in the offseason to replace the retired Ben Roethlisberger.

The New Orleans Saints took offensive tackle Trevor Penning with the pick before the Steelers' selection. The wait is now on for QBs like Malik Willis and Matt Corral as we wait to see if there will be a second quarterback selected in the first round.

FILE - Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett throws during the NFL football scouting combine, Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Indianapolis. Franchises still searching for a prized quarterback won't find much star power in this year's crop of college QBs. Still, there's potential upgrades to be had in the likes of Temple's Malik Willis and Pitt's Kenny Pickett.  (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
FILE - Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett throws during the NFL football scouting combine, Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Indianapolis. Franchises still searching for a prized quarterback won't find much star power in this year's crop of college QBs. Still, there's potential upgrades to be had in the likes of Temple's Malik Willis and Pitt's Kenny Pickett. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

Eagles trade for A.J. Brown, Titans take Treylon Burks

A.J. Brown is heading to Philadelphia. The third-year Tennessee receiver was traded to Philadelphia for picks Nos. 18 and 101.

Like Marquise Brown, A.J. Brown was entering the final two seasons of his rookie deal. Unlike Hollywood, this Brown has been dominant since he stepped on the field with the Titans. A.J. Brown had over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons and had 63 catches for 869 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games in 2021.

The deal is fantastic value for Philadelphia. The Eagles end up with both Brown and Jordan Davis while having to give up four picks outside the top 100.

The Titans then used the Eagles' first-round pick to draft Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks. Burks is the sixth wide receiver selected in the first round and has the size and speed combination to be a very similar replacement for Brown. And will be on a rookie deal for five more years while Brown was looking at a large contract extension very soon.

Wide receiver run continues with Jahan Dotson

Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson became the fifth receiver to be picked in the first half of the draft when he went to the Washington Commanders at No. 16.

Dotson has good speed and great hands and could immediately become the Commanders' second option behind Terry McLaurin.

Kyle Hamilton goes to the Ravens, who trade Marquise Brown

Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton went No. 14 to the Baltimore Ravens where he will immediately slot in as an impact defender on a talented defense undergoing a change in scheme.

Hamilton was once projected as a top-five pick but his 40 time saw him drop across mock drafts. The do-it-all player fits perfectly in the Ravens defense and could be in the starting lineup right away.

Not long after picking Hamilton, Arizona traded the No. 23 pick to the Ravens for Marquise Brown and pick No. 100. Brown is a former first-round pick of the Ravens and had the first 1,000-yard season of his career with 1,008 yards and six touchdowns in 2021. Brown has 21 TDs and 2,361 yards in his career on 195 catches. Brown also has two years left on his rookie contract. He's the second player the Ravens have traded for a first-round pick in two years after trading Orlando Brown Jr. to the Chiefs in 2021.

The Texans then followed the Ravens' pick at No. 14 with Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green.

Trades! Saints, Lions, Eagles all move up

The Washington Commanders were set to pick at No. 11, but they moved back in a trade with the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans reportedly sent picks No. 16, 98 and 120 to the Commanders in order to select Ohio State receiver Chris Olave.

Olave starred alongside Garrett Wilson for the Buckeyes for the past three seasons. Over the course of his OSU career, Olave caught 175 passes for 2,702 yards and 35 touchdowns. Now he is headed to New Orleans to become a member of the Saints.

The trades did not stop there. The Lions moved up to No. 12 in a deal with the Minnesota Vikings. The target was yet another wide receiver: Jameson Williams out of Alabama.

Williams began his career alongside Wilson and Olave at Ohio State but did not break out until he transferred to Alabama. In just one season at Alabama, Williams caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Soon after, a third trade surfaced. This time, the Philadelphia Eagles moved up to No. 13 to select Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis. Davis, a freak athlete at 340 pounds, was a key cog for the UGA defense for four years. Now he is headed to the Eagles.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 28: Chris Olave poses onstage after being selected 11th by the New Orleans Saints during round one of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 28: Chris Olave poses onstage after being selected 11th by the New Orleans Saints during round one of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

USC's Drake London is first WR picked

This is a deep class for wide receivers and USC's Drake London was the first receiver selected on Thursday night. London was picked No. 8 overall by the Atlanta Falcons, where he will pair with Kyle Pitts on a rebuilding offense in Atlanta.

London caught 88 passes for 1,084 yards and seven TDs in just eight games in 2021 before going down with a season-ending ankle injury. That injury did not impact his draft positioning whatsoever.

After London went to Atlanta at No. 8, the Seattle Seahawks picked Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross at No. 9. Cross was a three-year starter for the Bulldogs and should be an instant impact player for Seattle.

Two picks after London, another wideout came off the board as the New York Jets went with Garrett Wilson out of Ohio State at No. 10. Wilson caught 143 passes for 2,213 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Buckeyes.

Offensive tackles Ekwonu, Neal go 6th and 7th

Following such a historic run on defensive players, two offensive tackles were selected with picks No. 6 and 7.

First it was NC State's Ikem Ekwonu, who will stay in North Carolina and play for the Carolina Panthers. Ekwonu started all three years he played for the Wolfpack with experience at both guard and tackle. He was an All-American at left tackle in 2021.

With the seventh pick, Alabama's Evan Neal became the New York Giants' second pick of the first round. Neal was a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide with experience at left guard, right tackle and left tackle.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 28: Ikem Ekwonu poses onstage after being selected sixth by the Carolina Panthers during round one of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 28: Ikem Ekwonu poses onstage after being selected sixth by the Carolina Panthers during round one of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

5 straight defensive picks to open NFL draft

After two pass rushers kicked off the draft, two cornerbacks came off the board at picks No. 3 and 4.

The Houston Texans are a team that could use upgrades at pretty much every position and they looked to LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. at No. 3 overall. Many thought Houston would go with one of the top offensive linemen or the other heralded corner in the draft: Cincinnati's Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner. Instead, the pick was Stingley, who was the No. 1 recruit in the country back in 2019.

As a freshman, Stingley was one of the best players in college football, but he has dealt with injuries over the last two seasons. Nonetheless, the Texans are banking on his considerable talent to make an immediate impact on their defense under new head coach Lovie Smith.

Though Gardner was passed over by Houston, he did not wait long to be drafted. The New York Jets took Gardner at No. 4 overall. A long, rangy cornerback, Gardner totaled 99 tackles, five tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 27 passes defended and nine interceptions over his three seasons with the Bearcats.

With pick No. 5, another pass rusher came off the board. This time it was Kayvon Thibodeaux out of Oregon to the New York Giants. Thibodeaux was a five-star recruit who quickly made an impact for the Ducks. In the 32 games he played in an Oregon uniform, Thibodeaux registered 123 tackles, 35.5 tackles for loss and 19 sacks.

No drama: Travon Walker to Jags, Aidan Hutchinson to Lions

A few months ago, it seemed far-fetched that Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker would emerge as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. But on Thursday night, that’s exactly what happened.

After a cringy (and loud), Raiders-themed introduction from Ice Cube and Derek Carr, Walker came off the board first to the Jacksonville Jaguars, making him the first Georgia product to be selected first overall since Matthew Stafford went to the Detroit Lions in 2009.

Walker was one of the key figures on an all-time Georgia defense in 2021. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Walker posted 7.5 tackles for loss and six sacks to help the Bulldogs win their first national championship since 1980.

The player who was the favorite to go No. 1 for months ended up slotting behind Walker at No. 2. That player is Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who will make the move from Ann Arbor over to Detroit as a member of the Lions.

Hutchinson was one of the best players in college football in 2021. He posted 14 sacks to help Michigan win its first outright Big Ten title since 2004.

Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine, Saturday, March 5, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine, Saturday, March 5, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Top prospects introduced before tribute to Dwayne Haskins

It's about that time.

The top draft prospects on hand in Las Vegas took the stage and were introduced to the crowd. There was no shortage of extravagant suits. Florida State's Jermaine Johnson may have had the best of the bunch.

Following the player introductions was a tribute to Ukraine, a moment of silence for Pittsburgh Steelers QB Dwayne Haskins and a rendition of the national anthem that included a helicopter flyover.

Haskins died earlier this month after being struck by a truck on a Florida highway. He was just 24 years old.

The NFL draft is finally here

After months of anticipation, the 2022 NFL draft is finally here. And as Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson detailed Wednesday, it’s set to be one of the least predictable drafts in recent memory.

Who will the Jacksonville Jaguars choose with the No. 1 pick? Will it be Travon Walker or Aidan Hutchinson? Or maybe an offensive tackle? When will quarterbacks start coming off the board? Who will be the first quarterback selected? When will the run on wide receivers begin?

Those are all pertinent questions in the lead-up to the first round of the draft on Thursday night.

On top of that, there are eight teams with two first-round picks and eight teams without a first-round pick, so it’d be a shock if there wasn’t significant trade activity. And based on the craziness of the offseason so far, don’t be surprised if that trade activity involves a star player or two.

Let the fun begin.

Watch Pro Football Focus' live draft show

Pro Football Focus (PFF) is streaming live for all seven rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft across the three days (April 28 - April 30) to offer pick-by-pick analysis, advanced stats and PFF-exclusive grades on every selection. The PFF stream will feature Lead Draft Analyst Mike Renner, Sunday Night Football's Cris Collinsworth, among several other PFF analysts and guest appearances. All three livestreams will feature in-depth evaluations of all the top selections in the 2021 NFL Draft, trade analysis of any significant draft day trades and prop betting advice for all seven rounds.

The 2022 NFL draft kicks off tonight in Las Vegas. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
The 2022 NFL draft kicks off tonight in Las Vegas. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
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