The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft belonged to receivers from the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Titans traded A.J. Brown to the Eagles — who then handed a $100 million contract to their new No. 1 target — and the Ravens angered quarterback Lamar Jackson by trading Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to the Cardinals in two surprising moves that stole away some of the thunder Thursday from the 32 first-round draft picks.
Perhaps just as significantly, the 49ers held on to Deebo Samuel despite the flurry of activity and much to the chagrin of some eager Jets fans.
Marquise Brown (No. 25), Samuel (No. 36) and A.J. Brown (No. 51) all were drafted in 2019 and all are eligible for extensions for the first time this offseason. A.J. Brown’s four-year deal with a reported $57 million guaranteed could now be used as a benchmark in Samuel’s terse situation with the 49ers and DK Metcalf’s negotiations with the Seahawks.
One of the big pre-draft questions was whether the Eagles would be the rare team to use a first-round pick on a receiver in three straight drafts, after apparent bust Jalen Reagor and apparent hit Devonta Smith. Instead, with the top five receivers off the board, they landed a 24-year-old Pro Bowler. Meanwhile, the Titans immediately replaced Brown by drafting Treylon Burks, who was compared for his physicality to Brown before the draft by NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah.
The Ravens-Cardinals trade reunited Marquise Brown with Kyler Murray, his quarterback at Oklahoma. And it left Jackson to retweet a fan who wrote, “What the f—ing f— bro! We traded Hollywood,” followed by a series of broken heart emojis. Jackson later Tweeted “WTF” after hearing the Ravens selected center Tyler Linderbaum with the return first-round pick.
Here are other key takeaways from the first round:
Worth the wait for QB1
For the first time since 1997 — when Jim Druckenmiller went No. 26 — there were no quarterbacks in the top 19 picks.
But it’s hard to imagine a better landing spot for Kenny Pickett than the always competitive Steelers. Pickett, who watched the draft from a restaurant near his family home at the Jersey Shore, is the most ready to play of any quarterback in the draft and could immediately push free-agent signing Mitch Trubisky for the starting job.
If rookies need a comfort level to succeed, Pickett will use the same practice facilities he used in college at Pittsburgh. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and retiring general manager Kevin Colbert did all the in-person legwork on Pickett, Malik Willis and all the other quarterbacks and got their No. 1 choice without trading up.
The quarterback-needy Saints and Lions both passed twice on passers. They both traded up for receivers, too.
Positional value is overrated
The crowd that argues against over-drafting certain positions — running back, guard, inside linebacker and safety, for example — might have just gift-wrapped two can’t-miss prospects to one of the best drafting organizations year after year.
Baltimore drafted safety Kyle Hamilton at No. 14 and Linderbaum at No. 25. There’s a reason the Ravens always contend for the playoffs, right?
The Eagles jumped up to steal Ravens prototype defensive tackle Jordan Davis at No. 13. Panic? No. Pivot … to stealing Hamilton, who at one point looked like the first safety headed for the top-five picks since 1991. The Ravens also have a boatload of third- and fourth-round picks when this draft class is at its peak for value. Maybe that will calm down their quarterback?
The Jaguars also capitalized, trading back into the first round at No. 27 for linebacker Devin Lloyd, who becomes an early sleeper bet for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
In an offense-dominated league, the first five picks were defense. That was the first time since 1991, when the game was played very differently.
Follow live coverage of the 2022 NFL Draft with pick-by-pick updates, analysis and more from the New York Post.
In many pre-draft forecasts, the Panthers had to hope one of the three elite offensive tackles slipped to No. 6. Instead, they had their choice and went with Ikem Ekwonu over Evan Neal and Charles Cross, after the first five picks included three edge rushers (Travon Walker, Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux) and two cornerbacks (Derek Stingley Jr. and Sauce Gardner). If you can’t score like the Chiefs and Bills, you’ve got to stop them, right?
The Packers had two chances to end one of the NFL’s most incredible streaks, but they still haven’t picked offense in the first round since Aaron Rodgers in 2005. Georgia teammates Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt became the franchise’s 17th and 18th straight first-round picks on defense.