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- 1-32 Rankings
With the 2022 NFL season now officially in the books, all eyes turn toward the 2023 NFL Draft. But before a new wave of talent hits the league, NFL.com rolled out division-by-division files featuring grades for each team’s rookie class, with Eric Edholm and Nick Shook providing the evaluations. Upon the completion of this series, Edholm and Shook collaborated to officially rank every group, from 1 to 32. Here’s the pecking order.
- (No. 4) Sauce Gardner, CB, 17 games/17 starts
- (10) Garrett Wilson, WR, 17 games/12 starts
- (26) Jermaine Johnson II, DE, 14 games/0 starts
- (36) Breece Hall, RB, 7 games/2 starts
- (101) Jeremy Ruckert, TE, 9 games/0 starts
- (111) Max Mitchell, OT, 6 games/5 starts
- (117) Michael Clemons, DT, 16 games/0 starts
Notable free-agent signees
- Zonovan Knight, RB, 7 games/4 starts
EDHOLM: The Jets were armed with draft-pick munitions, making seven picks in the first 117 selections, including four in the first 36 picks, and called it a draft. The good news is that most of their early decisions look extremely promising after one year.
Top-10 picks Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson were two of the best rookies at their respective positions, with each taking home a Rookie of the Year honor, and it didn’t hurt that they pushed each other in some strong training camp battles. Gardner looks like a star and a rare shutdown corner. Wilson could be the Jets’ WR1 for years to come, proving to be excellent despite subpar QB play after the Jets struck out on trading for Tyreek Hill.
Breece Hall was on a path toward being an Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite prior to his ACL injury. Assuming he returns to full health, the state of the Jets’ running game appears strong. The nice addition of undrafted rookie Zonovan Knight only bolsters the position further.
Jermaine Johnson II and Michael Clemons had steady reserve roles as rookies on a deep Jets D-line, but each flashed on defense and blocked a punt that resulted in a score. Their arrows are up. Max Mitchell struggled in his early snaps before blood clots ended his season. Jeremy Ruckert figures to get more chances eventually with his athletic profile but showed little in Year 1.
- (No. 2) Aidan Hutchinson, DE, 17 games/17 starts
- (12) Jameson Williams, WR, 6 games/0 starts
- (46) Josh Paschal, DE, 10 games/4 starts
- (97) Kerby Joseph, S, 17 games/14 starts
- (177) James Mitchell, TE, 14 games/0 starts
- (188) Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, 16 games/15 starts
- (217) James Houston, OLB, 7 games/2 starts
- (237) Chase Lucas, DB, 6 games/0 starts
EDHOLM: In some respects, this was a wait-and-see draft for the Lions, but they also started putting together a foundation on defense, improving on all three levels with this rookie haul. When it’s all said and done, we might look back at this class as a huge bedrock for a team that appears to be on the right track.
Aidan Hutchinson, the Defensive Rookie of the Year runner-up, was pretty terrific. Outside of a few quiet stretches, Hutchinson made his impact in multiple ways — as a pass rusher (9.5 sacks), run defender (nine TFLs) and takeaway artist (three INTs, two fumble recoveries). His hustle, versatility and Michigan roots made him an easy fan favorite in Year 1.
Two more rookies instantly endeared themselves to the Detroit faithful. Kerby Joseph intercepted four passes (three via Aaron Rodgers) and forced two fumbles, showing an innate nose for the ball. Malcolm Rodriguez also displayed terrific instincts and timing and looked like a pro from jump street, ranking third on the team in tackles in 15 starts.
Sidelined by a torn ACL most of the season, Jameson Williams saw action down the stretch and had two touches — a 40-yard run and a 41-yard TD catch — in 78 offensive snaps. The Lions know they have a racehorse in the slim receiver, and he could break out next season. James Houston came on like gangbusters late, profiling as a prolific pass-rush specialist.
- (No. 9) Charles Cross, OT, 17 games/17 starts
- (40) Boye Mafe, OLB, 17 games/3 starts
- (41) Kenneth Walker III, RB, 15 games/11 starts
- (72) Abraham Lucas, OT, 16 games/16 starts
- (109) Coby Bryant, CB, 17 games/6 starts
- (153) Tariq Woolen, CB, 17 games/17 starts
- (158) Tyreke Smith, OLB, 0 games
- (229) Bo Melton, WR, 0 games (now w/ GB)
- (233) Dareke Young, WR, 13 games/0 starts
EDHOLM: It’s not a stretch to say that the Seahawks might not have returned to the postseason without the contributions of their rookie class. They received notable playing time from six first-year players — three on offense, three on defense — and replenished some of the depth issues that plagued Seattle down the stretch in recent seasons.
They addressed offensive tackle in a big way with Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas, who started all but one game combined last season and hardly embarrassed themselves. Cross had a few rough patches, allowing seven sacks (per PFF) and committing nine penalties, but displayed enough promise to cast him as the left tackle for the foreseeable future. And Lucas used his college experience to provide surprisingly steady play on the right side, especially as a pass blocker.
Kenneth Walker III actually received more first-place votes for Offensive Rookie of the Year than winner Garrett Wilson, giving the Seahawks their latest tackle breaker in the backfield. Despite being brought along slowly at first and suffering a late-season ankle injury, Walker surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark and ran for 97 or more yards in six of his 11 starts.
Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant might be the Seahawks’ starting corners for the next few years. How Woolen fell to Round 5 is anyone’s guess, but he’s a Seattle-style corner if there ever was one, tying for the league lead in picks with six (one pick-six) and flashing outstanding playmaking ability. Bryant opened eyes with four forced fumbles and has the makings of a quality slot corner if he can clean up his tackling and tighten his coverage a shade. Boye Mafe brought energy as a subpackage rusher and figures to reprise that role — or even start — in 2023.
- (No. 21) Trent McDuffie, CB, 11 games/11 starts
- (30) George Karlaftis, DE, 17 games/17 starts
- (54) Skyy Moore, WR, 16 games/3 starts
- (62) Bryan Cook, S, 16 games/1 start
- (103) Leo Chenal, LB, 17 games/8 starts
- (135) Joshua Williams, CB, 17 games/4 starts
- (145) Darian Kinnard, OG, 1 game/0 starts
- (243) Jaylen Watson, CB, 16 games/6 starts
- (251) Isiah Pacheco, RB, 17 games/11 starts
- (259) Nazeeh Johnson, CB, 11 games/0 starts
EDHOLM: It’s rare to see a Super Bowl champion be so rookie-dependent, but Kansas City identified its depth issues last offseason and showered the defense with draftees — especially in the secondary, with five selections, including four who contributed in major ways in Year 1. Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson, Joshua Williams and Bryan Cook all cracked the rotation this season, and each of them played at least 10 snaps on defense in Super Bowl LVII. They all endured some rough patches, but each contributed something significant along the way. Even with some potential veteran DB departures this offseason, the future of the Chiefs’ secondary appears to be bright thanks to this crew.
Defensive end George Karlaftis started all season, but really made his impact down the stretch, with 5.5 of his six sacks, seven of his eight tackles for loss and both of his fumble recoveries coming in the final seven regular-season games. After some humbling snaps early on, Karlaftis started to show his true impact potential.
Isiah Pacheco was one of the 2022 NFL Draft’s great finds, coming off the board in the back end of the seventh round. Despite some issues taking care of the football, the hard-charging back was a revelation in Year 1, supplanting former first-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire as K.C.’s lead back and averaging 5.0 yards per carry from Week 7 (his first start) through the Super Bowl. Skyy Moore also experienced ball-security problems — muffing three punts as a returner — but he was still able to carve out a role of 25-to-30 snaps on offense and special teams. And he actually provided a massive 29-yard punt return with under a minute left in the AFC Championship Game, helping set up Harrison Butker’s game-winning field goal.
- (No. 14) Kyle Hamilton, S, 16 games/4 starts
- (25) Tyler Linderbaum, C, 17 games/17 starts
- (45) David Ojabo, LB, 2 games/0 starts
- (76) Travis Jones, DT, 15 games/3 starts
- (110) Daniel Faalele, T, 16 games/1 start
- (119) Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB, 4 games/1 start
- (128) Charlie Kolar, TE, 2 games/0 starts
- (130) Jordan Stout, P, 17 games/0 starts
- (139) Isaiah Likely, TE, 16 games/2 starts
- (141) Damarion Williams, CB, 14 games/0 starts
- (196) Tyler Badie, RB, 1 game/0 starts (w/DEN)
Notable free agent signee:
- Anthony Brown, QB, 2 games/1 start
SHOOK: Kyle Hamilton didn’t start every game at safety, but he fit rather nicely in coordinator Mike Macdonald’s defense, making a notable impact while filling a slot role in the nickel package in the second half of the season. He finished with a strong Pro Football Focus grade of 82.3 on defense, displaying an ability to play effective coverage and provide quality run support while taking the first steps in what could be a long, productive career. Tyler Linderbaum was another solid pick, stepping into a starting role immediately and serving as the Ravens’ No. 1 center for his entire rookie season. Both Linderbaum and Hamilton earned Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team selections. David Ojabo made three appearances (including the playoffs) and only logged considerable snaps in one of them (Week 18), but the fact he played at all after tearing his Achilles during his Pro Day workout was an achievement. With one sack recorded, Ojabo briefly demonstrated why the Ravens risked a second-round pick on him. Travis Jones followed a route that was typical of a third-round pick, filling a rotational role and showing occasional flashes of a brighter future — he finished with 24 tackles and one sack. Daniel Faalele didn’t see a ton of snaps and thus didn’t have much of a chance to show off his skills or improvement. He’s a project player at this point. Jalyn Armour-Davis is another developmental player who arrived with an Alabama pedigree but only played in four games before landing on injured reserve near the end of November. Charlie Kolar lost most of his rookie season to sports hernia surgery in August, but he did show off his potential in the final week of the regular season, catching four of six targets for 49 yards. Jordan Stout replaced longtime Raven Sam Koch and did a decent job, finishing with a per-punt average of 45.9 yards. Likely’s 2022 season was a pleasant surprise; the backup tight end finished with the third-most targets of any pass-catcher on Baltimore’s roster, putting up quality numbers (36 catches, 373 yards, three TDs) for a non-starter and shining in place of Mark Andrews when the star wasn’t available. Still, Baltimore’s passing game wasn’t prolific or effective enough to allow Isaiah Likely to break out. He’s a promising second option opposite Andrews.
Baltimore attacked its lack of secondary depth by adding plenty of options at the position in the offseason, and Damarion Williams received some early chances to prove his worth. It didn’t quite pan out, as his snap totals dropped in the second half of the season, but he has room to grow with the Ravens. Tyler Badie missed the final 53-man roster and spent most of his season on the practice squad before signing with Denver in late December. Anthony Brown was forced into action due to injuries to Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley, and looked very much like a rookie who should have spent 2022 adjusting to the pro game.
- (No. 20) Kenny Pickett, QB, 13 games/12 starts
- (52) George Pickens, WR, 17 games/12 starts
- (84) DeMarvin Leal, DE, 11 games/2 starts
- (208) Connor Heyward, TE, 17 games/0 starts
- (225) Mark Robinson, LB, 4 games/2 starts
- (241) Chris Oladokun, QB, 0 games/0 starts (now w/KC)
Notable free agent signee:
- Jaylen Warren, RB, 16 games/0 starts
SHOOK: It’s hard to not love the top of this small class for Pittsburgh. The Steelers selected the local hero, Kenny Pickett, then allowed him to learn behind Mitch Trubisky until it became clear Pickett was likely their best option at quarterback. Down the stretch, Pickett sorted out the turnover issues we saw early in the season, impressing onlookers with his decisiveness and composure and leading many to believe he could become the long-term answer at the position. His knack for clutch play sent the Steelers into the offseason with plenty of optimism. A big reason why Pickett’s future is so bright is the inclusion in this class of George Pickens, a stud receiver who turned heads in camp and made multiple highlight-reel grabs in 2022. It’s now easy to understand Pickens’ frustration with a lack of early-season opportunities: He’s a game-changing, playmaking artist who is destined to become Pittsburgh’s No. 1 receiver. He’s not yet a household name, but give it time. Pittsburgh hasn’t found a fit for DeMarvin Leal yet; in part because of T.J. Watt’s pectoral injury, he was stuck somewhere between being a down lineman and a 3-4 outside linebacker. (His knee also sent him to injured reserve midseason.) Until the Steelers firmly decide on his role, it’s unfair to expect much from him.
Connor Heyward was one of my favorites at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, landing on my All-Combine Team because of the skills he demonstrated during his workouts. Heyward’s size (6-foot-0, 230 pounds) precludes him from filling a traditional tight end role, but he could find a place as a fullback/tight end hybrid. When the Steelers needed him to play the latter position late in the season, he shined. The kid can ball — Pittsburgh just needs to find the best way to use him. Mark Robinson spent most of his rookie season as a healthy scratch, buried behind Myles Jack and Robert Spillane at inside linebacker, logging just 44 defensive snaps. With turnover coming at the position, though, Robinson could soon have a chance to prove his worth. Chris Oladokun missed the final 53-man roster cut and ended up on Kansas City’s practice squad. Jaylen Warren was a pleasant surprise. The powerful, physical spell back rushed 77 times for 379 yards and one touchdown, averaging nearly 5 yards per carry. He’s a second option to help take some of the load off Najee Harris — a necessity, if the team is to maximize Harris’ potential in the years ahead.
- (No. 61) Drake Jackson, DE, 15 games/0 starts
- (93) Tyrion Davis-Price, RB, 6 games/0 starts
- (105) Danny Gray, WR, 13 games/ 0 starts
- (134) Spencer Burford, OG, 16 games/16 starts
- (172) Samuel Womack, CB, 16 games/1 start
- (187) Nick Zakelj, OG, 5 games/0 starts
- (220) Kalia Davis, DT, 0 games
- (221) Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, 2 games/0 starts (now w/ WAS)
- (262) Brock Purdy, QB, 9 games/5 starts
Notable free agent signee:
- Jordan Mason, RB, 16 games/0 starts
EDHOLM: Raise your hand if you had Spencer Burford and Brock Purdy as the 49ers’ no-doubt biggest rookie contributors before August? (Now put it back down, you filthy liar.)
Purdy was one of the most stunning rookie contributors in several years, going from Mr. Irrelevant to nearly a household name in just a few months. Thrust into the starting lineup in Week 13 for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo, Purdy led the Niners to a 5-0 regular-season finish and two playoff victories before suffering a torn UCL in the NFC Championship Game. But even with the major injury and with Trey Lance in place, Purdy completely rewrote the 49ers’ future QB picture, giving himself a chance to earn back the starting job eventually.
Burford started all but one game, often rotating with Daniel Brunskill. Although Burford will never be a mauler in the run game, he’s physically gifted enough to be a solid fixture in a Kyle Shanahan system. Jordan Mason was a surprise addition to the RB mix, offering nothing as a receiver but providing a physical punch as a runner late in the season. He’s worth watching.
The two rookie defenders who played in nearly every game last season offer some promise. Drake Jackson started out well in a reserve role but seemed to fade down the stretch, as a healthy scratch in five of the final six games (including playoffs). He’s twitchy with pass-rush potential but must show more stamina and strength to withstand a long season. Samuel Womack was a pleasant surprise, giving the team a nickel option for 2023.
- (No. 18) Treylon Burks, WR, 11 games/6 starts
- (35) Roger McCreary, CB, 17 games/17 starts
- (69) Nicholas Petit-Frere, T, 16 games/16 starts
- (86) Malik Willis, QB, 8 games/3 starts
- (131) Hassan Haskins, RB, 15 games/1 start
- (143) Chigoziem Okonkwo, TE, 17 games/8 starts
- (163) Kyle Philips, WR, 4 games/0 starts
- (204) Theo Jackson, CB, 11 games/0 starts (w/MIN)
- (219) Chance Campbell, LB, 0 games/0 starts
Notable free agent signees:
- Ryan Stonehouse, P, 17 games
- Tre Avery, CB, 14 games/3 starts
- Jack Gibbens, LB, 5 games/2 starts
SHOOK: Treylon Burks didn’t see enough targets to make a difference in an offense that struggled mightily to throw the football all year. He had his moments, but getting a return on the investment with that pick will require more than Burks simply improving over time. Roger McCreary made a number of quality plays, using his length to his advantage against more seasoned receivers, but he also committed his fair share of rookie mistakes. He figures to be an important part of Tennessee’s secondary going forward. It’s difficult for a non-elite offensive lineman — especially a tackle — to make a significant difference as a rookie, and Nicholas Petit-Frere, while consistently available, took his lumps. Tennessee was forced to play Malik Willis while Ryan Tannehill was out, and Willis’ lack of experience showed, so much that the Titans relied on a run-heavy approach in all but one of his appearances. Willis flashed glimpses of his athletic ability, but he has a ways to go before he becomes a viable NFL starter. Hassan Haskins saw a handful of carries, but he primarily played special teams until the end of the season. Chigoziem Okonkwo was a surprise contributor, catching 32 passes for 450 yards and three touchdowns as Tennessee’s second option at tight end. Kyle Philips carried promise entering his first NFL season, but a couple of early special teams blunders cost him playing time, and a hamstring injury ended his season after just four games played. Chance Campbell spent his rookie year on injured reserve. Ryan Stonehouse proved to be an excellent addition, breaking Sammy Baugh’s single-season gross yards per punt average record, set way back in 1940. Stonehouse routinely flipped field position for a Titans team whose struggling offense often needed its inexperienced punter to dig it out of holes. Tre Avery was a quality undrafted pickup who played more on defense down the stretch while serving as a special teamer all season, possibly playing his way into Tennessee’s future plans. Jack Gibbens was a cut-down day casualty who made his way back to Tennessee late in the season, starting the final two games and recording 14 tackles in that stretch.
- (No. 8) Drake London, WR, 17 games/15 starts
- (38) Arnold Ebiketie, OLB, 16 games/1 start
- (58) Troy Andersen, LB, 17 games/5 starts
- (74) Desmond Ridder, QB, 4 games/4 starts
- (82) DeAngelo Malone, OLB, 15 games/0 starts
- (151) Tyler Allgeier, RB, 16 games/7 starts
- (190) Justin Shaffer, OG, 0 games/0 starts
- (213) John FitzPatrick, TE, 0 games/0 starts
Notable free-agent signee
- Timmy Horne, DT, 17 games/5 starts
SHOOK: Despite running routes for the likes of Marcus Mariota and rookie Desmond Ridder, Drake London thrived in Year 1, catching 72 passes for 866 yards and four touchdowns. He’s penciled in as Atlanta’s top receiver going forward. Arnold Ebiketie had the type of season one might expect from a second-round pick, getting only one start but playing more pass-rushing snaps than the starter in front of him. Though his numbers weren’t gaudy, he put together some solid performances and needs to build on that in the years ahead. The Falcons have a linebacking corps that flies under the radar, but has given reasons to be excited about its future. Troy Andersen’s PFF grade wasn’t great, but he started to find his footing late in his rookie season and finished tied for the third-most hustle stops among all Falcons defenders. (Next Gen Stats defines a hustle stop as a tackle resulting in a successful play for the defense where the player covers 20-plus yards of distance from snap to tackle.)
Arthur Smith’s decision to test Ridder in the final month of the 2022 season didn’t produce wins initially, but the young quarterback did start to figure it out a bit in the last couple weeks, helping the Falcons to a pair of victories while completing 38 of 56 passes for 393 yards and two touchdowns in those final two games. Ridder hasn’t yet convinced everyone he’s the answer for Atlanta at the position going forward; however, he wasn’t completely lost, which is a positive sign for a third-round pick.
DeAngelo Malone played 432 snaps in 2022, split exactly down the middle between defense and special teams. He recorded one sack and 29 tackles (four for loss) as a rotational edge. Atlanta found its lead back in Tyler Allgeier, who averaged nearly five yards per carry on 210 attempts, eclipsing 1,000 rushing yards and scoring four touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving) in a run-first offense. The combination of Allgeier and second-year runner Caleb Huntley created quite a 1-2 punch no one saw coming.
Justin Shaffer didn’t make the final 53-man roster and spent his rookie season on the practice squad. John FitzPatrick missed his rookie season after landing on injured reserve on Sept. 1. Timmy Horne came through when the Falcons needed help along the defensive interior, making five starts and recording 27 tackles in 17 games played, which included 66 snaps on special teams. Solid production for an undrafted free-agent signee.
- (No. 24) Tyler Smith, OG, 17 games/17 starts
- (56) Sam Williams, DE, 15 games/0 starts
- (88) Jalen Tolbert, WR, 8 games/1 start
- (129) Jake Ferguson, TE, 16 games/8 starts
- (155) Matt Waletzko, OL, 3 games/0 starts
- (167) DaRon Bland, DB, 17 games/8 starts
- (176) Damone Clark, LB, 10 games/5 starts
- (178) John Ridgeway, DT, 15 games/4 starts (w/WAS)
- (193) Devin Harper, LB, 3 games/0 starts
Notable free agent signees
- Markquese Bell, S, 5 games/0 starts
- Malik Davis, RB, 12 games/0 starts
- Peyton Hendershot, TE, 17 games/2 starts
SHOOK: Tyler Smith was drafted to play left guard next to Tyron Smith, but a preseason injury to the veteran forced the rookie to man left tackle from Week 1. He didn’t get a chance to play his intended position until Dallas decided to insert Jason Peters at left tackle and place Tyron Smith at right tackle following a season-ending injury to usual right tackle Terence Steele. In all, the rookie played well, allowing six sacks, per Pro Football Focus, and accounting for close to a dozen penalties. But considering how he was required to adjust his role while getting his feet underneath him as a green blocker, he did a good job. Entrenched behind DeMarcus Lawrence, Sam Williams didn’t see a ton of defensive snaps (273 on defense and 245 on special teams) but showed glimpses of why the Cowboys felt confident selecting him in the second round. He finished with 22 tackles, four sacks, one forced fumble and one pass defensed in his 15 games played, easing his way into the NFL while producing when given the opportunity. Dallas had a need at receiver but waited until the third round to take Jalen Tolbert, who arrived as an athletic playmaker but wasn’t polished enough to make an instant impact as a rookie. His slow start and lack of production left the Cowboys with a void, prompting Dallas to explore potentially signing Odell Beckham Jr. before settling on veteran T.Y. Hilton.
With Dalton Schultz playing on the franchise tag, the Cowboys took a couple shots at finding his long-term replacement. Jake Ferguson fit in nicely as a second tight end, catching 19 of his 22 targets for 174 yards and two touchdowns. With Peyton Hendershot also securing a secondary role (11 catches, 103 yards, two touchdowns), Dallas seems to have landed a complementary duo at the position. Matt Waletzsko played three games, with all but one of his 12 snaps coming on special teams. DaRon Bland proved to be a bona fide gem, seizing playing time afforded to him by unfortunate injuries at cornerback and capitalizing with five interceptions, seven passes defensed and 54 tackles. The former Fresno State corner has been overlooked for most of his career, but not anymore — thanks to his performance as a rookie, Bland will figure into Dallas’ 2023 plans and beyond.
Damone Clark wasn’t able to play until Week 8, but he quickly became a quality rotational defender, earning five starts and logging 47 tackles and two forced fumbles before reverting to special teams duties in the postseason. John Ridgeway made the final 53-man roster out of camp, but only for a few weeks: He was waived in mid-September and claimed by division-rival Washington. Devin Harper played exclusively on special teams. Markquese Bell recorded one tackle in five games, primarily playing special teams. Malik Davis rushed 38 times for 161 yards and one touchdown, despite being buried behind Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott on the depth chart.
- (No. 3) Derek Stingley, CB, 9 games/9 starts
- (15) Kenyon Green, OL, 15 games/14 starts
- (37) Jalen Pitre, S, 17 games/17 starts
- (44) John Metchie III, WR, 0 games/0 starts
- (75) Christian Harris, LB, 12 games/11 starts
- (107) Dameon Pierce, RB, 13 games/13 starts
- (150) Thomas Booker, DT, 10 games/1 start
- (170) Teagan Quitoriano, TE, 9 games/6 starts
- (205) Austin Deculus, OL, 5 games/0 starts
Notable free agent signees:
- Troy Hairston, FB, 16 games/5 starts
- Jake Hansen, LB, 11 games/2 starts
- Kurt Hinish, DL, 15 games/3 starts
SHOOK: Derek Stingley arrived as a highly touted corner who looked the part in coverage but didn’t quite produce enough positive plays to draw high marks. His season was abbreviated by a hamstring injury. Kenyon Green struggled mightily in his first season, finishing with an ugly Pro Football Focus grade of 37.7 on offense. Jalen Pitre didn’t put together a complete rookie season, primarily because his aggression often cost him, but he certainly showed plenty of flashes — including five interceptions and eight passes defensed — that suggest he’ll have a solid career. John Metchie III missed his entire rookie campaign after he was diagnosed with leukemia; he has a chance to rejoin his teammates in a working capacity this offseason. After spending the first six weeks on injured reserve, Christian Harris returned in Week 7, and though he often looked overmatched early, he started to appear more comfortable as the season progressed. Dameon Pierce was a slam-dunk of a pick who quickly earned the starting job and flirted with 1,000 rushing yards before his season was cut short by an ankle injury. He’ll be an important part of the Texans’ future. Thomas Booker was a rotational defender who never saw more than 48 percent of defensive snaps in a game, but he could work his way into a more prominent role in the future. Teagan Quitoriano began 2022 on injured reserve and caught a touchdown pass — one of two on the year — in his debut. As a tight end who saw just 14 targets in 2022, he’ll need more looks to show whether he can stick in the NFL. Austin Deculus played 27 total snaps in 2022, all on special teams. Troy Hairston converted from linebacker to fullback, making the final roster and catching five passes while also finishing with six tackles on special teams. Jake Hansen found surprising success when given the opportunity, recording 25 tackles and one sack while also playing a significant amount of special teams snaps. Kurt Hinish worked his way from undrafted free agent to temporary starter, filling a spot in the lineup in three games and finishing with 23 tackles and one sack in 15 games.
- (No. 1) Travon Walker, OLB, 15 games/14 starts
- (27) Devin Lloyd, LB, 17 games/15 starts
- (65) Luke Fortner, OL, 17 games/17 starts
- (70) Chad Muma, LB, 16 games/2 starts
- (154) Snoop Conner, RB, 8 games/0 starts
- (197) Greg Junior, CB, 1 game/0 starts
- (222) Montaric Brown, CB, 8 games/1 start
SHOOK: Jacksonville’s selection of Travon Walker was a long-term play that banked on his rare athleticism and presumably came with the understanding he might struggle early. He wasn’t stellar, but there were certainly glimpses of what he could become, even as he adjusted to a move to outside linebacker. Walker can carry the momentum from a strong finish into 2023, when he’ll be expected to outpace his debut campaign. Devin Lloyd had a very strong start before temporarily losing his job to Chad Muma; the two could make for an interesting linebacking combo in the future, with Muma displaying ability as a traditional ‘backer against the run. Luke Fortner was reliably available, starting all 17 games, but he still has room to grow. As the third back on Jacksonville’s depth chart, Snoop Conner didn’t see much playing time, logging 12 carries, 42 yards and one touchdown. Greg Junior didn’t make the final 53, spending most of the season on the practice squad before being elevated in mid-December. Montaric Brown saw a handful of defensive snaps, recording six tackles.
- (No. 11) Chris Olave, WR, 15 games/9 starts
- (19) Trevor Penning, OT, 6 games/1 start
- (49) Alontae Taylor, CB, 13 games/9 starts
- (161) D’Marco Jackson, LB, 0 games/0 starts
- (194) Jordan Jackson, DT, 0 games/0 starts (now w/ DEN)
Notable free-agent signees
- Lewis Kidd, OG, 13 games/1 start
- Rashid Shaheed, WR, 12 games/6 starts
SHOOK: Mixed returns on New Orleans’ two first-rounders. Chris Olave should have received more attention in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race than he did. The rookie caught 72 passes for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games and is one to watch in the years ahead as a potential breakout star — provided the Saints can find a legitimate solution under center. Injuries curtailed Trevor Penning’s rookie year, reducing him to a sixth-lineman role before making a start in the final game of the season. The Northern Iowa product needs more time on an NFL gridiron for proper evaluation.
Alontae Taylor capitalized on a chance to play due to injuries in the secondary, and although his PFF grade doesn’t jump off the page, his 11 passes defended and 46 tackles give the Saints reason for optimism moving forward. D’Marco Jackson landed on injured reserve before the start of the season, wiping out his entire rookie campaign. Jordan Jackson missed the final 53-man roster and spent his rookie season on the practice squad before Denver scooped him up on a future/reserve deal in January.
Like Penning, Lewis Kidd got snaps as a sixth lineman in jumbo packages, and also appeared traditionally at a number of positions. His PFF grade was poor, but he didn’t stand out in glaringly bad fashion on tape. He still isn’t a guy the Saints will count on to play considerable snaps going forward. Shaheed, on the other hand, showed off his versatility as a speedy returner and receiver, catching 28 passes for 488 yards and two touchdowns, rushing four times for 57 yards and one score, and totaling 513 yards between kick and punt returning. The undrafted free agent was a gem of a find who helped out in a big way when the Saints were thin at the WR position.
- (No. 5) Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, 14 games/14 starts
- (7) Evan Neal, OL, 13 games/13 starts
- (43) Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, 6 games/3 starts
- (67) Joshua Ezeudu, OL, 10 games/2 starts
- (81) Cordale Flott, CB, 11 games/6 starts
- (112) Daniel Bellinger, TE, 12 games/11 starts
- (114) Dane Belton, DB, 15 games/5 starts
- (146) Micah McFadden, LB, 17 games/7 starts
- (147) D.J. Davidson, DT, 5 games/0 starts
- (173) Marcus McKethan, OL, 0 games/0starts
- (182) Darrian Beavers, LB, 0 games/0 starts
Notable free agent signees
- Ryder Anderson, DT, 7 games/2 starts
- Tomon Fox, LB, 16 games/1 start
SHOOK: Kayvon Thibodeaux lived up to the prime-time persona he exudes, finishing fourth in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting despite totaling just four sacks. He wasn’t a game-wrecking edge rusher on an every-down basis, but there were plenty of examples of his potential to become one. His final stat line — 49 tackles, four sacks, five passes defensed, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown — was certainly good enough to earn praise, and he’s just getting started. Evan Neal, on the other hand, wasn’t as exciting. He struggled, much like many rookie tackles, and gave up three sacks in one game (Week 3 vs. Dallas), but had a couple of nice performances sprinkled among his 13 games. Above all, Neal needs time to develop.
Wan’Dale Robinson was just getting going when he sustained a season-ending ACL injury in November, finishing with 23 catches for 227 yards and one touchdown. Joshua Ezeudu battled the typical struggles of rookie linemen, giving up three sacks before landing on IR. Cordale Flott saw early playing time, then suffered an injury that led to him being replaced by veteran Fabian Moreau. He had a couple of strong performances after returning from injury and could blossom into a productive defensive back, but he’ll need more time to improve. Daniel Bellinger’s rookie season was a pleasant surprise that included 30 catches for 268 yards and two touchdowns. He likely would have made an even larger impact had he not missed time due to a freak injury to the face, and he should be a quality contributor in the years ahead. Dane Belton didn’t see the field consistently but did make a bit of a difference when he did play. He’ll need more reps to determine whether he can be a productive member of the defense in the future.
New York didn’t feel confident enough in Micah McFadden to rely on him heavily down the stretch, turning to free agent veterans like Jaylon Smith and Jarrad Davis in favor of the rookie. He’ll have to battle for a job in 2023. D.J. Davidson played less than 100 snaps on the year, splitting time evenly between defense and special teams. Marcus McKethan’s rookie season ended before it began due to an ACL injury that landed him on IR in early August. Darrian Beavers suffered a similar fate, tearing his ACL in the preseason. Ryder Anderson bounced between the practice squad and active roster before receiving a chance to play in December and January, finishing with eight tackles, two sacks. Tomon Fox played over 500 snaps, recording 24 tackles and earning himself a chance to win a roster spot entering 2023.
- (No. 23) Kaiir Elam, CB, 13 games/6 starts
- (63) James Cook, RB, 16 games/0 starts
- (89) Terrel Bernard, LB, 16 games/1 start
- (148) Khalil Shakir, WR, 14 games/2 starts
- (180) Matt Araiza, P (released)
- (185) Christian Benford, CB, 9 games/5 starts
- (209) Luke Tenuta, OL, 3 games/0 starts (now w/GB)
- (231) Baylon Spector, LB, 6 games/0 starts
EDHOLM: The Bills’ 2022 rookie class offered immediate returns — in a few cases, out of sheer need — but might be best judged in a few years’ time. It appears on the surface to be a promising draft haul, yet one with a ceiling.
First-rounder Kaiir Elam was a surprise inactive at one point, but he finished the season strong with two good playoff showings, serving as a launching pad for Year 2. Fellow CB Christian Benford started fairly well before an oblique injury derailed his rookie campaign, but there has been talk of moving him to safety next season with uncertainty at that position.
James Cook fumbled his first NFL touch and found the doghouse early. But by year’s end, he’d carved out a nice role and flashed some real game-breaking ability in extended duty against the Patriots and Bears. He’s on the rise, for sure, just as Khalil Shakir might be. Similar to Elam, Shakir stepped up his game in the two postseason contests and could be in the regular WR rotation in 2023, with changes likely coming at that position in Buffalo.
The rest of the class might carry limited future potential, and there’s already the sting of one wasted pick (Matt Araiza). A core special-teamer as a rookie who made a big block on Nyheim Hines’ emotional kick-return TD vs. New England, Terrel Bernard could factor in more heavily on defense if Tremaine Edmunds walks in free agency.
- (No. 31) Daxton Hill, DB, 15 games/2 starts
- (60) Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, 10 games/9 starts
- (95) Zach Carter, DL, 16 games/9 starts
- (136) Cordell Volson, OL, 16 games/16 starts
- (166) Tycen Anderson, DB, 0 games/0 starts
- (252) Jeff Gunter, DL, 10 games/0 starts
Notable free agent signee:
- Cal Adomitis, LS, 15 games/0 starts
SHOOK: Cincinnati’s choice of Daxton Hill made logical sense, but they simply didn’t use him enough to properly evaluate him: Hill played more snaps on special teams than he did on defense. His value is likely in how he fits the Bengals’ long-term plans, potentially as a replacement for Jessie Bates if Bates leaves in free agency. Cam Taylor-Britt was thrown into the lineup following Chidobe Awuzie’s season-ending injury, and while he endured some typical rookie struggles (reflected in his defensive grade of 56.1 from PFF), Taylor-Britt also improved down the stretch. Zach Carter’s campaign doesn’t look great when viewed as a whole, but he finished on a notably strong note, filling a rotational role as Cincinnati’s third defensive tackle in a unit that thrived against the run (see: Week 18 and Super Wild Card Weekend against Baltimore). He provides depth and gave Bengals fans reason to be excited about his future. Cordell Volson started in every game, initially filling the left guard spot out of necessity, then proving he was worthy of the job. Volson had some early bumps in the road but ended up improving in the second half of the season, named Offensive Rookie of the Year by the team’s site. If he can continue to improve, the Bengals will have one less offensive line position to worry about going forward. A two-time All-Mid-American Conference selection at Toledo, Tycen Anderson didn’t see the field in 2022, landing on injured reserve in early September. Jeff Gunter didn’t have much playing time defensively, spending most of his 2022 season as a special teamer, save for Week 15 (in which he played 18 defensive snaps). Long snappers usually stay out of the spotlight unless they make a mistake, but Cal Adomitis played in 15 games and handled the inclement weather in Buffalo quite well in the Divisional Round — so much that he received a game ball following Cincinnati’s win.
- (No. 39) Kyler Gordon, CB, 14 games/14 starts
- (48) Jaquan Brisker, S, 15 games/15 starts
- (71) Velus Jones Jr., WR, 12 games/2 starts
- (168) Braxton Jones, OT, 17 games/17 starts
- (174) Dominique Robinson, DE, 17 games/7 starts
- (186) Zachary Thomas, OG, 1 game/0 starts (now w/LAR)
- (203) Trestan Ebner, RB, 17 games/0 starts
- (207) Doug Kramer, C, 0 games/0 starts
- (226) Ja’Tyre Carter, OG, 3 games/0 starts
- (254) Elijah Hicks, S, 15 games/2 starts
- (255) Trenton Gill, P, 17 games
Notable free-agent signees
- Jack Sanborn, LB, 14 games/6 starts
- Jaylon Jones, CB, 16 games/4 starts
EDHOLM: Missing the first-round pick from the Justin Fields trade (which ended up being No. 7 overall) had to sting a bit for first-year GM Ryan Poles, but the Bears managed to check off some important boxes on the offensive line and in the secondary via their Day 2 and 3 selections, as well as the undrafted free-agent pool.
Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker endured a trial by fire at times as rookies on a thinned-out Chicago defense, but they combined to produce seven INTs, eight passes defended and two forced fumbles in their 29 combined starts. Brisker also added four sacks, but some missed tackles and mental errors stood out. Gordon was picked on at times, but also picked off Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen in consecutive games.
Braxton Jones was the steal of the crop. He stepped in at left tackle and looked to be exactly the kind of athletic mover and mentally tough competitor the Bears were seeking. Even with a few glitches, Jones’ future appears to be bright.
Velus Jones Jr. did not earn the coaches’ trust in Year 1, outside of some late-season opportunities. He has some juice as a runner and returner but appears unrefined so far as a receiver. With Jones turning 26 in May, the Bears must figure out his utility quickly. Dominique Robinson started seven of the final eight games, but was held without a sack or even a QB hit. Jack Sanborn and Jaylon Jones played well enough to earn roster shots in 2023, but the rest of the group was underwhelming.
- (No. 68) M.J. Emerson, CB, 17 games/6 starts
- (78) Alex Wright, DE, 17 games/5 starts
- (99) David Bell, WR, 16 games/3 starts
- (108) Perrion Winfrey, DT, 13 games/0 starts
- (124) Cade York, K, 17 games
- (156) Jerome Ford, RB, 13 games/0 starts
- (202) Michael Woods, WR, 10 games/0 starts
- (223) Isaiah Thomas, DE, 10 games/0 starts
- (246) Dawson Deaton, C, 0 games/0 starts
Notable free agent signees:
- D’Anthony Bell, S, 16 games/2 starts
- Ben Stille, DT, 7 games/1 start
SHOOK: Drafted for his length, the 6-foot-2 M.J. Emerson quietly compiled a quality season for a rookie corner. He was consistently effective in tough matchups, blanketing Steelers rookie George Pickens one-on-one and effectively eliminating Buccaneers star Mike Evans in Week 12. Other rookie corners (e.g., Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner and Tariq Woolen) received more attention, but Emerson was right behind them in terms of performance; he gives the Browns another trusty option among their talented corners. Alex Wright played more often than most likely expected and made a minor impact that was more noticeable on tape than the stat sheet, but he still has plenty of room to improve. David Bell arrived as a developmental replacement for Jarvis Landry in the slot, but injuries hampered the start to his pro career. He began finding his footing, but his evaluation is incomplete, due to a lack of opportunity (he finished with 24 receptions on 35 targets). Perrion Winfrey’s highlight tape got Browns fans excited coming in, but while he could occasionally overpower some blockers in pass-rushing situations, he showed he’s not yet consistent enough to be counted upon to make a significant difference inside. Cade York began his Browns career by nailing a 58-yard field goal to help secure the team’s second season-opening win since returning to the NFL in 1999. He had an up-and-down year, converting 75 percent of field-goal attempts and notably missing two extra-point tries (including one that led to a one-point Browns loss in Week 2), but he started to settle in late in the season.
The Browns had too many running backs on the roster to give Jerome Ford ample snaps, but they did work him into the return game, where he proved to be dangerous. The preseason star should see more action in 2023 after veteran back Kareem Hunt’s expected departure. The Browns had a clear need at receiver throughout much of 2022; that issue perhaps overshadowed the very few glimpses of Michael Woods’ talent we saw. He caught just five passes, with his longest going for 15 yards, and injuries got in the way, but there might be something there. The high point of Isaiah Thomas’ season came in a Monday Night Football game against Cincinnati, when he powered through the outside shoulder of Jonah Williams with a rip move and sacked Joe Burrow. Outside of that, there wasn’t a whole lot to say, other than that he’s another player who looked better on tape than on the stat sheet. Dawson Deaton suffered a season-ending injury before the start of the campaign. D’Anthony Bell served almost exclusively as a special teamer until the end of the season, finishing with 14 tackles. Signed off the Dolphins’ practice squad in November, Ben Stille filled an unexpected rotational role, peaking at 28 defensive snaps played in Week 11.
- (No. 53) Alec Pierce, WR, 16 games/12 starts
- (73) Jelani Woods, TE, 15 games/2 starts
- (77) Bernhard Raimann, T, 16 games/11 starts
- (96) Nick Cross, S, 16 games/2 starts
- (159) Eric Johnson, DT, 14 games/0 starts
- (192) Andrew Ogletree, TE, 0 games/0 starts
- (216) Curtis Brooks, DT, 0 games/0 starts (now w/TEN)
- (239) Rodney Thomas II, FS, 17 games/10 starts
Notable free agent signee:
- Dallis Flowers, CB, 13 games/1 start
SHOOK: The acquisition of Carson Wentz in 2021 ended up costing the Colts a first-round pick in this draft, leaving Alec Pierce as the first choice of Indianapolis’ 2022 class. He showed flashes of being a productive pass-catcher but didn’t make enough of an impact to stand out, finishing with 41 catches for 593 yards and two touchdowns in an offense that ranked 27th in yards per game. Like Pierce, Jelani Woods showed flashes of a bright future but didn’t post significant numbers; he also spent the final month of the season without a position coach. His potential remains promising. Bernhard Raimann battled through a tough first six weeks of his NFL career but eventually got on track (with the help of Jeff Saturday) and finished the season strong. He should get a fair chance to win the starting job in 2023 and continue his development as a left tackle. Nick Cross proved he wasn’t ready to start after the first two weeks of the season, ceding his role to veteran Rodney McLeod (who had an outstanding 2022) and becoming a special teamer. He’ll need to use this offseason to improve with the goal of becoming Indianapolis’ long-term safety. Eric Johnson was a rotational developmental player slotted behind a strong starting duo of DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart. The Colts will take a slow and steady approach with him. After a strong camp, Andrew Ogletree had his rookie season wiped out by an ACL tear suffered before the start of the campaign. Curtis Brooks failed to make the final 53 and spent most of 2022 on the practice squad before he was released; he joined the Titans’ practice squad, then signed a futures deal with Tennessee in January. Rodney Thomas III was a pleasant surprise, becoming a key contributor and leading the Colts in interceptions (four). Despite posting subpar PFF grades, Thomas provided excellent value in the seventh round. Dallis Flowers proved to be a versatile factor, serving as a cornerback and special teamer in kick/punt coverage (finishing with 14 total tackles). His greatest contribution came in the kick return game, in which he averaged a league-best 31.1 yards per return on 23 attempts, with a long return of 89 yards.
- (No. 17) Zion Johnson, OG, 17 games/17 starts
- (79) JT Woods, S, 10 games/1 start
- (123) Isaiah Spiller, RB, 6 games/0 starts
- (160) Otito Ogbonnia, DT, 7 games/1 start
- (195) Jamaree Salyer, OT, 17 games/14 starts
- (214) Ja’Sir Taylor, CB, 17 games/3 starts
- (236) Deane Leonard, CB, 17 games/0 starts
- (260) Zander Horvath, FB, 15 games/2 starts
EDHOLM: As far as significant Year 1 contributions go, this was essentially a two-man rookie class, with both residing on the offensive line. Zion Johnson was a bit disappointing as a rookie, partially due to the lofty expectations that accompany any guard drafted in the first round. But he’s a tough, smart and mature player who figures to improve in Year 2.
The best rookie blocker, however, was Jamaree Salyer. He inexplicably slid in the draft to Round 6, perhaps because some evaluators worried about his ability to play tackle in the NFL. But Salyer replaced injured Pro Bowler Rashawn Slater in Week 4 and settled in beautifully at left tackle after spending all of camp at guard. Maybe Salyer continues manning a bookend in 2023, but the future appears bright wherever he lands.
Zander Horvath made a quick splash with receiving touchdowns in each of the first two weeks, but touched the ball just five times the rest of the season. His special teams and run-blocking contributions were solid, however. The rest of the group provided limited returns, but there are encouraging talents in JT Woods and Isaiah Spiller to be developed.
- (No. 33) Logan Hall, DL, 17 games/0 starts
- (57) Luke Goedeke, OG, 11 games/8 starts
- (91) Rachaad White, RB, 17 games/8 starts
- (106) Cade Otton, TE, 16 games/11 starts
- (133) Jake Camarda, P, 17 games
- (157) Zyon McCollum, CB, 13 games/3 starts
- (218) Ko Kieft, TE, 17 games/12 starts
- (248) Andre Anthony, DE, 0 games/0 starts (now w/ CHI)
Notable free-agent signee
- Deven Thompkins, WR, 5 games/1 start
SHOOK: Logan Hall did not live up to expectations as the first pick of Round 2, struggling mightily against the run in particular. He was a bit better as a rotational pass rusher, recording 2.5 sacks and 12 tackles (five for loss). With more playing time, he could improve, but the No. 33 overall pick did not stand out in his first pro campaign. Luke Goedeke shifted from tackle to guard out of necessity and struggled. He might be better suited to return to the edges over the long haul. It took the Buccaneers half of a season before realizing Rachaad White was their best option at running back. However, even he struggled statistically behind a banged-up offensive line, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry. Still, White was a viable weapon in the run and pass game, finishing with 771 yards from scrimmage and three total touchdowns. He’s a bright spot in this class.
As Cade Otton learned, it takes a village to replace Rob Gronkowski. The fourth-round rookie did his part, catching 42 passes for 391 yards and two touchdowns, earning the trust of Tom Brady in an offense that significantly underwhelmed. Jake Camarda showed off his punting prowess in Year 1, booming bombs at times and pulling off a miracle to get a punt off in a tight Week 17 victory over Carolina that ultimately helped Tampa Bay win a dreadful NFC South. He’s another bright spot in this class.
Zyon McCollum played more defensive snaps than special teams, but he shined in the third phase of the game as a gunner. We’ll see if he can become a steady contributor on a defense that has some decisions to make in its secondary. Ko Kieft served more as a blocker than a pass catcher, which explains his low statistical output (seven catches for 80 yards and a touchdown) despite logging 12 starts. Andre Anthony missed the final 53-man roster and spent 2022 on the Bears’ practice squad. Deven Thompkins’ contributions mostly came on special teams — SEE: 18 total returns (between punts and kicks) for 324 yards — though the undrafted free-agent signee did produce 42 yards on five touches during his lone start in the season finale.
- (No. 13) Jordan Davis, DT, 13 games/5 starts
- (51) Cam Jurgens, OL, 17 games/0 starts
- (83) Nakobe Dean, LB, 17 games/0 starts
- (181) Kyron Johnson, DE, 16 games/0 starts
- (198) Grant Calcaterra, TE, 15 games/2 starts
Notable free agent signees
- Reed Blankenship, S, 10 games/4 starts
- Britain Covey, WR, 17 games/0 starts
- Josh Jobe, CB, 11 games/0 starts
SHOOK: Jordan Davis drew eyes for his renowned power during the preseason and was rising steadily as a rotational defender and promising prospect before an ankle injury interrupted his season in late October. He should be a key part of the Eagles’ long-term plans along the defensive front. Cam Jurgens was handpicked by veteran Jason Kelce but didn’t see much action as a rookie because of Kelce’s well-established reliability. Nakobe Dean spent the vast majority of his rookie season on special teams, making him another rookie who essentially redshirted in 2022. The same was true for Kyron Johnson, who played 265 of his 283 snaps on special teams. Grant Calcaterra caught five passes for 81 yards in an offense that already had an established top tight end in Dallas Goedert and used the rookie largely in jumbo sets.
Reed Blankenship fought his way through a crowded depth chart and seized an opportunity to play, finishing with 34 tackles, two passes defensed and one interception while playing both defense and special teams. Britain Covey brought his elite return talents to the NFL, finishing with over 500 yards between kick and punt returns and posing a constant threat to opposing special teams units. Josh Jobe played 220 special teams snaps but finished with just one tackle. Philadelphia’s grade boils down to the fact most of these guys, while carrying plenty of potential, didn’t see enough playing time to make a significant difference on a loaded Eagles team.
- (No. 22) Quay Walker, LB, 17 games/16 starts
- (28) Devonte Wyatt, DT, 16 games/0 starts
- (34) Christian Watson, WR, 14 games/11 starts
- (92) Sean Rhyan, OG, 1 game/0 starts
- (132) Romeo Doubs, WR, 13 games/7 starts
- (140) Zach Tom, OL, 9 games/5 starts
- (179) Kingsley Enagbare, OLB, 17 games/7 starts
- (228) Tariq Carpenter, S, 14 games/0 starts
- (234) Jonathan Ford, DT, 0 games/0 starts
- (249) Rasheed Walker, OT, 1 game/0 starts
- (258) Samori Toure, WR, 11 games/2 starts
EDHOLM: There has been a lot of hand-wringing in Wisconsin over the first-year returns from the Packers’ first-rounders, one of whom (Quay Walker) they received as a result of the Davante Adams trade. Devonte Wyatt was barely heard from on a disappointing defensive line, although he could take Dean Lowry’s spot in 2023. Kingsley Enagbare, taken 151 picks after Wyatt, contributed much more. Walker made headlines for missed tackles (13, via PFF) and ejections (two) in an adventurous rookie year, but his speed and athleticism did stand out.
Are Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs the future 1-2 receiver combination in Green Bay? Maybe. They combined for 83 catches, 1,036 yards and 10 TDs in 2022, overcoming some early inconsistencies to earn a measure of Aaron Rodgers’ trust. Watson showed the ability to take the top off defenses, and Doubs was effective working underneath and between the hashes. Even Samori Toure had some flashes late. Why he often sat in favor of Sammy Watkins is anyone’s guess.
Sean Rhyan remains a mystery. The third-rounder played sparingly in preseason, took one regular-season snap (on special teams) and then was suspended the final six games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Thankfully, Zach Tom stepped up in a big way and contributed at four positions: everywhere but center. He has the look of a super utility guy, but could start if needed.
- (No. 29) Cole Strange, OL, 17 games/17 starts
- (50) Tyquan Thornton, WR, 13 games/9 starts
- (85) Marcus Jones, DB, 15 games/4 starts
- (121) Jack Jones, CB, 13 games/2 starts
- (127) Pierre Strong, RB, 15 games/0 starts
- (137) Bailey Zappe, QB, 4 games/2 starts
- (183) Kevin Harris, RB, 5 games/1 start
- (200) Sam Roberts, DT, 5 games/0 starts
- (210) Chasen Hines, OG, 0 games/0 starts
- (245) Andrew Stueber, OT, 0 games/0 starts
EDHOLM: The Patriots received reinforcements from their 2022 rookie class via multiple contributors. But the question remains over just how high the ceiling is for this group.
First-rounder Cole Strange was a much-maligned pick at the time. He started all 17 games, and though Strange was benched briefly a few times, he appeared to be stronger by season’s end. Two DBs stepped up for New England. Marcus Jones beat the Jets with a walk-off punt-return TD and made eye-opening plays on offense, defense and special teams. Jack Jones had a pair of picks and flashed early, but a late-season suspension dampened his forecast a bit.
After that, this rookie class has a wait-and-see quality, but it might never be a special group. Tyquan Thornton’s deep ability could be unleashed more under Bill O’Brien, so it’s hard to judge him too critically. RBs Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris remain projects with some upside but some questions. Zappe’s relief appearances showed he could at least be a quality backup, but is there more than that?
- (No. 16) Jahan Dotson, WR, 12 games/10 starts
- (47) Phidarian Mathis, DT, 1 game/0 starts
- (98) Brian Robinson Jr., RB, 12 games/9 starts
- (113) Percy Butler, S, 15 games/0 starts
- (144) Sam Howell, QB, 1 game/1 start
- (149) Cole Turner, TE, 10 games/2 starts
- (230) Chris Paul, OL, 1 game/1 start
- (240) Christian Holmes, CB, 17 games/2 starts
Notable free agent signees
- Armani Rodgers, TE, 11 games/3 starts
- John Ridgeway, DT, 15 games/4 starts (claimed via waivers from DAL)
SHOOK: Jahan Dotson joined a Commanders team that already had a couple of strong talents in Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel, yet he still managed to finish with 35 catches for 523 yards and seven touchdowns despite playing with three different quarterbacks. He didn’t produce at the levels of Chris Olave or Garrett Wilson, but Dotson deserves commendation for his performance as a rookie. Phidarian Mathis’ rookie season met an unfortunate end in Week 1 with a knee injury. Brian Robinson’s story is well-known at this point: He appeared set to win the starting running back job, then was shot twice in the leg. He returned to rush 205 times for 797 yards and two touchdowns, falling short of 4 yards per carry but winning the support of football fans everywhere for his journey back to the field.
Percy Butler played more on special teams than defense, but he could become a contributor as a safety in the seasons ahead. Sam Howell spent almost all of 2022 enjoying a front-row seat for the switches between Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke before receiving a chance to play in Week 18. He put on a decent showing in the win over Dallas and will enter the 2023 offseason as Washington’s top quarterback, at least for now. Cole Turner found himself buried behind Logan Thomas and John Bates — and even undrafted free agent Armani Rodgers outplayed him in terms of statistical production — but he should get another chance to earn a spot in 2023. Chris Paul only appeared in one game, registering a slightly below-average PFF grade for his performance in Week 18. Christian Holmes spent most of his rookie season on special teams, making one pivotal play: recovering a fumble to set up Washington’s only touchdown in a win over Chicago.
Like Turner, Armani Rogers had to fight for the snaps he saw in a crowded tight end room but may have done enough to earn a second look in 2023. Washington was happy to scoop up John Ridgeway off waivers, giving him over 250 defensive snaps and enjoying the highs and lows of a rookie finding his footing in Year 1. Ridgeway finished with 24 tackles and one key forced fumble that helped Washington upset Philadelphia, but he is also playing on a team loaded with talent up front.
- (No. 6) Ikem Ekwonu, OT, 17 games/17 starts
- (94) Matt Corral, QB, 0 games/0 starts
- (120) Brandon Smith, LB, 12 games/1 start
- (189) Amare Barno, DE, 9 games/0 starts
- (199) Cade Mays, OG, 11 games/2 starts
- (242) Kalon Barnes, CB, 2 games/0 starts (now w/ MIN)
Notable free-agent signees
- Raheem Blackshear, RB, 13 games/1 start
- Marquan McCall, DT, 16 games/0 starts
SHOOK: Ikem Ekwonu had good and bad moments — typical of any rookie left tackle — but posted a decent PFF grade and didn’t miss a game. With a step forward in Year 2, he can become a reliable blind-side blocker for the team to build around. Matt Corral’s rookie season ended before it began due to a Lisfranc injury that landed him on injured reserve in August. Quite unfortunate, because he almost certainly would’ve had the chance to see the field, given Carolina’s QB struggles.
Brandon Smith spent the majority of his rookie season on special teams, playing just 53 defensive snaps in 12 games. Amare Barno played sparingly in nine games, registering 22 more snaps on special teams than defense, recording nine tackles and two sacks. That said, he logged a decent PFF grade despite the limited action. Cade Mays registered two starts (though he only played 11 combined snaps in both wins) and compiled average PFF grades while also contributing on special teams. Kalon Barnes didn’t make the 53-man roster and eventually caught on with the Vikings, playing nine special teams snaps over two games.
Undrafted free-agent signee Raheem Blackshear filled in at running back behind D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard when called upon (especially following the Christian McCaffrey trade), carrying 23 times for 77 yards and three touchdowns while catching 10 passes for 93 yards. Marquan McCall filled a rotational role, playing 186 defensive snaps and recording 15 tackles (two for loss) in 16 games.
- (No. 64) Nik Bonitto, OLB, 15 games/1 start
- (80) Greg Dulcich, TE, 10 games/6 starts
- (115) Damarri Mathis, CB, 16 games/11 starts
- (116) Eyioma Uwazurike, DE, 8 games/0 starts
- (152) Delarrin Turner-Yell, S, 14 games/0 starts
- (162) Montrell Washington, WR, 15 games/1 start
- (171) Luke Wattenberg, C, 7 games/1 start
- (206) Matt Henningsen, DE, 17 games/0 starts
- (232) Faion Hicks, CB, 2 games/0 starts
Notable free agent signee:
- Brandon Johnson, WR, 7 games/1 start
EDHOLM: Even without a first-round pick following the Russell Wilson trade, the Broncos hauled in a nine-man class, issued a decent amount of playing time to rookies and had their top three choices contribute in some kind of meaningful way. But it would be a stretch to suggest that this group suddenly appears to be more than a middling overall lot with a few contributors.
Damarri Mathis was a pleasant surprise, taking over the starting CB job for an injured Ronald Darby and putting his best foot forward. Mathis and Pat Surtain II look like one of the stronger young CB duos in the conference. But the Broncos have to be hoping for bigger Year 2 contributions from Nik Bonitto, who supplied limited pass-rush juice (especially after Bradley Chubb was traded) and must raise his game with a starting job on the line in 2023.
Greg Dulcich missed time to start the season with a hamstring injury and fell behind. He flashed some fascinating receiving prowess and became a regular part of the passing game when he was out there, but Dulcich was overwhelmed as a blocker at times and, after finishing the season on injured reserve, must prove he can stay healthy.
The rest of the crop leaves us guessing. Montrell Washington opened eyes as a returner, but battled fumbling problems all season and might need to show more potential as an offensive contributor. Matt Henningsen could be a solid reserve, but keep an eye on Eyioma Uwazurike, who has a chance to develop into something decent.
- (No. 102) Channing Tindall, LB, 16 games/0 starts
- (125) Erik Ezukanma, WR, 1 game/0 starts
- (224) Cameron Goode, OLB, 0 games/0 starts
- (247) Skylar Thompson, QB, 7 games/2 starts
Notable free agent signees:
- Kader Kohou, CB, 15 games/13 starts
- Verone McKinley III, S, 10 games/2 starts
EDHOLM: Because of the Tyreek Hill trade, the Dolphins were left with a mere four picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. Only one of them played any significant snaps as a rookie, too: seventh-rounder Skylar Thompson, who made three surprising starts (including the 34-31 wild-card loss) as one of the final picks last spring. His play wasn’t particularly inspired, and he soon turns 26, but Thompson was prepared, kept Miami in every start and is worth keeping around.
It’s hard to know what to make of the remainder of their picks. Ezukanma saw minimal action (10 snaps), catching one 3-yard pass after showing some promise in the preseason. Tindall played extensively on special teams but barely saw the field on defense. Both Ezukanma and Tindall reportedly needed time to absorb NFL terminology and concepts.
But the consolation was that Kohou ended up being a shockingly valuable undrafted gem. With injuries to Byron Jones and Nik Needham, the rookie from Texas A&M-Commerce stepped in and looked like a pro from Jump Street as the team’s second corner. Miami’s secondary will undergo changes this offseason, but his emergence puts him firmly in the 2023 plans.
- (55) Trey McBride, TE, 16 games/13 starts
- (87) Cameron Thomas, OLB, 17 games/0 starts
- (100) Myjai Sanders, OLB, 13 games/4 starts
- (201) Keaontay Ingram, RB, 12 games/0 starts
- (215) Lecitus Smith, OG, 10 games/2 starts
- (244) Christian Matthew, CB, 14 games/3 starts
- (256) Jesse Luketa, OLB, 7 games/0 starts
- (257) Marquis Hayes, OG, 0 games
EDHOLM: The trade for wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown left the Cardinals without a first-round pick and put a true lid on what this rookie class could accomplish, especially when their top selection (Trey McBride) was something of a luxury pick. He was barely targeted the first 10 games of the season (four targets) but finished strong as a chain-moving receiver with Zach Ertz out injured. McBride might not have immense upside, but he can be a solid contributor.
Third-round defenders Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders each had three sacks in limited chances. Both saw increased playing time down the stretch, but there’s a reasonable question of how high their respective ceilings are. Together, they make decent platoon potential, but the Cardinals are starving for pass-rush help with J.J. Watt retiring. One or both of these edge rushers must step up their game.
The only other major rookie contributors were Lecitus Smith and Christian Matthew. Smith stepped in full time in Weeks 9 through 11 with middling results. He isn’t guaranteed a starting role in 2023. Matthew earned most of his snaps early on special teams, but was given an extended look in December as an outside corner, showing enough promise to earn another shot.
- (No. 90) Dylan Parham, OG, 17 games/17 starts
- (122) Zamir White, RB, 14 games/0 starts
- (126) Neil Farrell, DT, 9 games/0 starts
- (175) Matthew Butler, DT, 6 games/0 starts
- (238) Thayer Munford Jr., OT, 17 games/4 starts
- (250) Brittain Brown, RB, 6 games/0 starts
Notable free agent signees:
- Luke Masterson, LB, 17 games/7 starts
- Sam Webb, CB, 17 games/3 starts
EDHOLM: We can only be so harsh on the Raiders’ rookie class, considering their first pick didn’t come until No. 90 overall. That was the cost of trading for WR Davante Adams. This rookie crop doesn’t look terribly promising on the whole, but there could be a few useful pieces who develop into longer-term contributors.
That top pick was Dylan Parham, who was durable, starting all 17 games. At times, he appeared a bit underdeveloped as a pass protector, but he was more consistent as a run blocker in that Josh Jacobs-dependent system. Parham appears to have average to above-average potential as a starting guard or center.
The two fourth-rounders, Zamir White and Neil Farrell, played sparingly as rookies. White’s limited usage wasn’t shocking, considering how much the offense leaned on Jacobs, but it will be important for him to carve out more of a role. Farrell plays a need position for the Raiders, and he was slowed by a shoulder injury, but it’s unclear how much upside he has.
Thayer Munford Jr. was the only other draft pick who played a notable amount. He was in the right tackle mix early before shifting to more of a reserve role. There’s still a debate where he’s best — inside or out. Two undrafted rookies, Luke Masterson and Sam Webb, both saw their playing time increase down the stretch. Neither newbie embarrassed himself, but of the two, Webb might have more promise.
- (No. 104) Logan Bruss, OG, 0 games
- (142) Cobie Durant, CB, 13 games/1 start
- (164) Kyren Williams, RB, 10 games/0 starts
- (211) Quentin Lake, S, 9 games/0 starts
- (212) Derion Kendrick, CB, 15 games/6 starts
- (235) Daniel Hardy, OLB, 6 games/0 starts
- (253) Russ Yeast, S, 15 games/1 start
- (261) A.J. Arcuri, OT, 8 games/1 start
EDHOLM: Selling out to win a Super Bowl meant the Rams had zero picks inside the top 100 overall. Their draft class reflected that in terms of Year 1 contributions, but it wasn’t a total morass.
The biggest development was finding depth in the secondary. After sitting quite a bit early, Cobie Durant shined late in the season, intercepting three passes (with a pick-six) and shockingly leading the NFL in INT return yardage. Is he a budding star or a flash in the pan? The Rams seem to like him quite a bit. Derion Kendrick was picked on as an early-season starter and eventually benched, but he should get another crack at earning time. Russ Yeast and Quentin Lake both had brief late-season auditions and could be in the mix for regular playing time with several DBs headed for free agency.
One big disappointment was the preseason ACL injury to their top pick, Logan Bruss, who would have been in line for starting on a beat-up Rams offensive line had he not been hurt. Kyren Williams, the only offensive contributor of note, had some later-season chances but still must prove he is capable of being the team’s third-down option in a muddled backfield picture.
- (No. 32) Lewis Cine, S, 3 games/0 starts
- (42) Andrew Booth, CB, 6 games/1 start
- (59) Ed Ingram, OG, 17 games/17 starts
- (66) Brian Asamoah, LB, 16 games/0 starts
- (118) Akayleb Evans, CB, 10 games/2 starts
- (165) Esezi Otomewo, DL, 5 games/0 starts
- (169) Ty Chandler, RB, 3 games/0 starts
- (184) Vederian Lowe, OT, 4 games/0 starts
- (191) Jalen Nailor, WR, 15 games/0 starts
- (227) Nick Muse, TE, 10 games/0 starts
Notable free-agent signee
- Ryan Wright, P, 17 games
EDHOLM: The Vikings went defensive back with back-to-back picks — both top-50 selections — to open the draft, but received very little from them in 2022. Both suffered season-ending injuries as rookies, although it’s fair to ask just how much each would have contributed, even on the NFL’s 32nd-ranked pass defense. They’re both long, athletic and instinctive, but face a critical offseason for their development.
The biggest rookie contributor — by far — was Ed Ingram. Although he was humbled as a pass protector, giving up 11 sacks in 2022, Ingram made his mark as a run blocker and showed great durability in starting all 18 games and playing all but two snaps. Will he ever be a Pro Bowler? Perhaps not, but Ingram profiles as a steady, sturdy guard who can start for the next few years.
The grade here is heavily weighted to the first-year contributions, which were limited, to say the least. Ingram played nearly double the snaps of the rest of the Vikings’ rookies combined. Brian Asamoah shined late in a very small sample size. Akayleb Evans had a few rough reps in coverage, but has the length and man-coverage chops to possibly vie for a starting spot as early as next season.
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