The 2023 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, so it’s time for a bit of reflection with a 2022 redraft. How did teams do a season ago in the same spot? One year later, would they do anything differently? Much about this will change in the coming years. The players who were rookies a season ago are just beginning to write their stories.
2022 NFL Draft Redraft
For the redraft, we’ll be using the original draft order and not the one we actually got on draft day.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Original Pick: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
It’s incredibly unusual (it’s literally never happened before) for a CB to go first overall. However, it’s hard to argue that any cornerback in football was better than Gardner was a season ago … as a rookie! It’s not like the CB position is low on talent, either.
Gardner was the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, beating out contenders in Aidan Hutchinson and Tariq Woolen. Travon Walker might eventually unleash the freakish athletic potential he possesses, but it will take time, as he was very raw coming from Georgia.
2) Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Original Pick: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
There was no reason to change anything here. Although I preferred Kayvon Thibodeaux as a prospect, Aidan Hutchinson came in and was competitive from the jump in Detroit. He led all rookies in pressures a season ago and proved himself a strong run defender to boot.
He can still progress to take the next step and become a truly dominant edge rusher, but the Lions feel great about their decision to draft the Michigan defensive end.
3) Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Original Pick: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
The Texans don’t yet have buyer’s remorse for drafting Stingley Jr. over Gardner, but it certainly couldn’t have been clearer who had the better rookie campaign. Stingley’s upside remains sky-high, and with DeMeco Ryans coming to town, the ceiling might be the roof for the LSU cornerback.
But in the redraft, they select Thibodeaux, who is turning into a bit of a villain in New York, and he’s playing into the role. But aside from that, he was productive as a rookie in Wink Martindale’s defense, and he fits the mold Ryans covets in a defensive end.
4) New York Jets: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Original Pick: Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
There were a few different directions the Jets could have gone with this selection. Woolen or Stingley were both options here, although Woolen’s fit in Robert Saleh’s defense feels a bit better. However, instead of waiting until the 10th pick in the draft, the Jets get their No. 1 WR six selections earlier, and they don’t feel bad about it whatsoever.
“But Dalton, what about the quarterbacks?” We’ll get to that. Patience, young grasshoppers.
5) New York Giants: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Original Pick: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The New York Giants’ depth chart is filled with names at wide receiver, but they still need a No. 1. Well, make that needed a true top target. Chris Olave went toe to toe with his teammate in regard to production and pop but did it much quieter down in New Orleans. Daniel Jones now has a fantastic athlete to get open at will at all three levels of the field in Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka’s offense.
6) Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
Original Pick: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
Yes, this means that Matt Rhule still gets fired, and the Panthers are still searching for their franchise passer in the 2023 NFL Draft. They still trade away DJ Moore and a bevy of picks to move up to the top of the draft. But they have their franchise left tackle.
Ikem Ekwonu started slow but rounded into form midway through the season. He still needs to grow technically as a pass protector, but his power and natural athleticism make him an absolutely fantastic player to have.
7) New York Giants (From CHI): Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Original Pick: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Neal and Stingley both struggled as rookies. However, with Martindale’s defense, a shutdown man cornerback is an absolute necessity. Stingley has the upside to be an island in press-man, much like we’ve seen Jalen Ramsey be over the years.
Neal’s book is not yet written, and this time next year, he might be able to slide back into this spot because the Giants still need that right tackle.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
Original Pick: Drake London, WR, USC
Redrafting Drake London wouldn’t have been a bad pick. Taking Woolen still leaves a gaping hole at wide receiver. However, Woolen’s fit in Dean Pees’ defense and now Ryan Nielsen’s is too tantalizing to pass on. The long, uber-athletic CB is a perfect fit for the modern spin on Cover 3 that both coordinators lean on defensively.
London was good as a rookie, and he fit a need in Arthur Smith’s offense. He won’t last too much longer in this redraft.
9) Denver Broncos: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Original Pick by the Seattle Seahawks: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Obviously, the Broncos ended up using this pick to trade for Russell Wilson. However, they saved themselves as we rewrite history, opting to stay and select a player with the ninth pick.
It’s incredibly boring to select a center when there is such an obvious need at the quarterback position, but none of the passers from this class, even in hindsight, are yet worth such a high pick. Brock Purdy’s efficiency in San Francisco likely isn’t replicable in most situations, including Denver.
10) New York Jets (From SEA): Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Original Pick: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Charles Cross goes one pick after he originally went, and now the Jets are set up for offensive success … aside from the quarterback position. Purdy was a consideration here, but it’s impossible to separate his success from Shanahan and the 49ers roster.
Cross gives the Jets a left tackle while Mekhi Becton remains on the right side after a tumultuous start to a career that looked promising for some time.
11) Washington Commanders: Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
Original Pick by the New Orleans Saints: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
This just goes to show that the Seattle Seahawks absolutely crushed the 2022 NFL Draft because Abrhama Lucas was originally a third-round pick. The Commanders signed Andrew Wylie in the offseason, which is far from a terrible move. However, drafting Lucas with the 11th overall pick takes that need away this past offseason while giving the Commanders a solid tackle of the future.
12) Minnesota Vikings: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Original Pick by the Detroit Lions: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Jahan Dotson has some of the best hands I’ve ever gotten to see in person, and he is the best interview I’ve ever had as well. He’s composed, confident, and articulate both on and off the field. For a “smaller” receiver, he sure can play big. Justin Jefferson didn’t need a Robin a season ago, but Adam Thielen is no longer on the roster. Unfortunately, for Minnesota, all the big-time CBs are already off the board.
13) Cleveland Browns: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Original Pick by the Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Although the pick remains the same in name, Jordan Davis ends up on a different team this time around. Is this pick a knee-jerk reaction to witnessing a complete abomination of a defensive interior in Cleveland a season ago? Probably. Do I care? Not really. Davis isn’t quite there yet technically but playing the nose in the NFL is not as easy as being big, strong, and athletic. But Davis will get there, and it will be devastating when he does.
Look no further than Dexter Lawrence for inspiration.
14) Baltimore Ravens: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Original Pick: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Treylon Burks didn’t see the number of snaps other receivers did, but that was through little fault of his own. He suffered a few nagging injuries, but even on a barren roster offensively, the Titans simply refused to use him much early on. But he made his presence felt when he was on the field, proving to be a big-play threat.
It hurts not to simply go with the chalk and take Kyle Hamilton here. He was fantastic as a rookie, but Baltimore needs receiver help in the worst way, and this would keep them from spending $15 million on Odell Beckham Jr.
15) Philadelphia Eagles (From MIA): Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Original Pick by the Houston Texans: Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
A trio of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Marcus Epps, and Hamilton would have been devastating a season ago and would have allowed Philadelphia an easier transition from both starters to 2023. But who knows, maybe Howie Roseman never trades for Gardner-Johnson in the first place if they’d drafted Hamilton.
16) Philadelphia Eagles (From IND): Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
Original Pick by the Washington Commanders: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
There was a ton of movement with the 16th pick. The Commanders got the pick from Indianapolis via Philadelphia, who’d originally received the pick from New Orleans. We are using the NFL Communication’s list of draft picks from a season ago.
Adding Walker to the already devastating Eagles defensive front would have offered him the sort of insulation needed while he progresses from a raw athlete on the edge to a professional pass rusher.
17) Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Original Pick: Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
It was physically painful watching the Los Angeles Chargers offense a season ago. The modern NFL is built, based, and officiated to let speed thrive, and the Chargers were completely absent of it offensively.
Adding Christian Watson would have changed that. However, he also wouldn’t have to be the guy in LA right away, which would have provided relief for the raw receiver.
18) New Orleans Saints: Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa
Original Pick by the Tennessee Titans: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Saints selected Trevor Penning with the very next pick, but what Tyler Smith did for Dallas as a rookie both at left guard and at left tackle was astonishing. He was far from an All-Pro, but he was also far from the technically unrefined mauler we saw at Tulsa who didn’t appear to have the skill set to be a tackle right away at the NFL level. But he proved everyone but the Cowboys wrong there.
19) Philadelphia Eagles: Dax Hill, S, Michigan
Original Pick by the New Orleans Saints: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
It’s no wonder the Eagles didn’t want to pick three times! It’s hard to see who they would have picked in that situation. Trent McDuffie was an option, but their CB room is pretty set. Jameson Williams would have sufficed, but he barely saw the field last season. The offensive line is set, and I’m pretty sure it would be illegal for the Eagles to add another defensive lineman to the mix.
So that leaves us with Hill, who has the skill set to play in the slot as a cornerback that can bring pop against the run as an alley defender or on the back end because of his freaky explosiveness. Eventually, he slides to the back end to play alongside Kyle Hamilton, and Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are reincarnated in Philadelphia.
20) Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Original Pick: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Life must go on. And what will be, will be. What is destined can’t be avoided, in any case.
The words of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski ring true in the case of Pittsburgh and Kenny Pickett. It was destined, and so it will be.
21) New England Patriots: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
Original Pick by the Kansas City Chiefs: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
A running back going in the first round? Oh my! While it is certainly unconventional and against my personal nature, Breece Hall provides a few things that I value in a runner and what the Patriots are reportedly looking for right now. He catches the ball incredibly well, and he has big-play ability. If it weren’t for an awful injury, he would have literally run away with the OROY Award.
22) Las Vegas Raiders: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Original Pick by the Green Bay Packers: Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
Kaiir Elam is not yet a finished product, but that wouldn’t have bothered the uncompetitive Raiders too much last season. Elam has No. 1 potential on the outside, armed with the kind of length and athleticism that make teams drool.
23) Arizona Cardinals: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
Original Pick by the Buffalo Bills: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
The Arizona Cardinals roster is as desolate as the desert surrounding the greater Phoenix area. Adding George Karlaftis won’t make all the pain go away, but it will give the Cardinals an option at defensive end in 2023, where they no longer have J.J. Watt or Zach Allen.
24) Dallas Cowboys: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Original Pick: Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa
The Cowboys originally selected Tyler Smith to play left guard, but an injury to Tyron Smith landed him at left tackle instead. Zion Johnson was an option here, but Dallas survived with Connor McGovern a season ago at guard. What their offense really needed at the end of the season was speed at receiver and a legitimate complement to CeeDee Lamb.
25) Buffalo Bills: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Original Pick by the Baltimore Ravens: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Trent McDuffie “falls” a few spots in the redraft, but his play isn’t the reason he slipped. Scheme fits and team movement in the draft a season ago are partially why he ended up going to the Chiefs with the 21st pick. He played well for Kansas City, and he has a championship ring to show for it.
But in this reality, he went to Buffalo and did the same thing, playing well from the jump as an outside cornerback in Leslie Frazier’s defense.
26) Tennessee Titans: George Pickens, WR, Georgia
Original Pick by the New York Jets: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
If nothing else, George Pickens is an absolute dawg. That attitude can work for and against him, but Tennessee could use his sideline prowess and scrappy nature as a blocker on the outside. Pickens has No. 1 potential, and while it may be a long shot to realize that potential, his realistic progression is worth the 26th pick.
27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah
Original Pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Braxton Jones was one of the biggest surprise performers in the NFL a season ago. Although there is still room for growth, and a season ago, left tackle wouldn’t have been a massive need for Tampa Bay on draft day, Donovan Smith was a shell of his former self during the year.
Jones has already realized quite a bit of upside and was a pleasant surprise on an offensive line that struggled most of the season.
28) Green Bay Packers: Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
Original Pick: Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
Jalen Pitre is a heat-seeking missile. The Packers didn’t receive the same kind of play they were used to getting from their two safeties a season ago, and Pitre’s explosiveness and playmaking ability would have helped their cause.
29) Miami Dolphins (From SF): Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Original Pick: Cole Strange, G, Chattanooga
He’s fallen quite far from his original selection, but we shan’t forget that Evan Neal was an awesome tackle prospect coming from Alabama. Every player progresses at a different speed, and while Dolphins fans likely would have cringed at his performance a season ago, his upside is impossible to ignore in the long run.
30) Kansas City Chiefs: Kader Kohou, CB, Texas A&M-Commerce
Original Pick: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
From undrafted rookie to first-round pick, it was a wild season for the Dolphins’ CB. He would immediately be inserted into the slot in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense, a position he flourished in on a Miami defense that struggled in the secondary as others couldn’t remain healthy.
31) Cincinnati Bengals: Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
Original Pick: Dax Hill, S, Michigan
Hill is already gone. I have typed and deleted Zion Johnson’s name multiple times throughout the process, but each time found a new name to insert in his place. That ends with the Bengals, who insert Johnson at left guard and don’t look back. While he certainly went through some growing pains in 2022, he was a solid prospect that should only get better going forward.
32) Detroit Lions (From LAR): Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati
Original Pick: Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
The Lions originally drafted Williams as a speed threat that has high-end upside, but they get a different version of a downfield threat in Alec Pierce. The Cincinnati receiver is an outstanding downfield threat. He possesses great size and more explosiveness than needed to stack cornerbacks vertically. He’d immediately fit into the DJ Chark role, which really opens the field for Amon-Ra St. Brown.
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