Trade, trade or stay put in the 2022 NFL Draft: The best plan for the 32 first-round picks

The 2022 NFL Draft is right around the corner, and unlike years past, no one even has a clear idea how the first round is going to play out. There’s a consensus regarding the likely No. 1 overall pick, of course, and you’ll find many of the same names in the top five picks or so across the mock drafts. But there’s a lot of uncertainty even among notable positions like quarterback, where prospects like Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis and Matt Corral are all vying to get off the board first.

With that in mind, we decided to go through each of the 32 first-round picks and suggest what each team should do in each slot: trade up, trade down, or stay put. Some clubs are better placed to recruit top talent. Others might benefit more from collecting additional assets. Here is how we would advise their decision-makers:

Normally, we’d say trade just because, even after another veteran spending spree, they could use all the picks they can get. But with 12 picks already in hand, the mission here is simple: secure the best guy. It’s likely Michigan pass thrower Aidan Hutchinson who could partner with Josh Allen to give Jacksonville a legit D-line.

2. Lions: Trade Down

If they really like a quarterback here (see: Malik Willis), they should think long and hard before pulling the trigger. If not, they better expand their collection of choices, especially with another first (#32) on deck.

3. Texans: stay put

Entertaining calls to get down wouldn’t hurt, but they already have two-thirds and two-quarters. With a need for top-notch talent at nearly every position, they should sit tight, add a top tackle or passer, then find another starter at No.13.

4. Jets: Swap Down

Maybe a tackle (Ikem Ekwonu) or a rusher (Kayvon Thibodeaux) is worth it, but with another first-round crack at No.10, they can afford to come down and pick up another pick from the day 2 or two as they try to speed up their rebuilding.

5. Giants: Swap

Like the Jets, they’ll surely have a shot at getting a top OT or pass rusher, but with another pick twice down the line, why not solicit offers from teams in need of a QB? Coming out of a dire salary cap situation, they need all the extra ammunition they can get.

It’s a popular spot for QB screenings, and hey, if they’re sold on Willis or Kenny Pickett, you could do worse. But given that most of these QB prospects seem similar in terms of risk/reward, they should prioritize rebuilding project capital – they don’t pick up until the fourth round – and look to QB later in the game. first.

7. Giants: stay put

We’ve traded them since No.5, so here’s the perfect place to get an instant starter, whether at tackle or basically any defensive position. Sauce Gardner, Kyle Hamilton or Nakobe Dean would all make additions to the game.

Many have suggested a down trade, but they already own two second- and third-round picks after last year’s Matt Ryan and Julio Jones trades. By staying seated, they secure themselves a shot at a top QB – Willis being the more attractive long-term bet – or a playmaker, whether on offense (Garrett Wilson?) or defense (Jermaine Johnson II?).

Armed with a pair of second-round players after their trade to Russell Wilson, they have the ability to shake up the top 10, either to add Wilson’s successor (Willis? Matt Corral?) or get a new left tackle or the No. 1 cornerback. .

10. Jets: stay put

If they have to move up from No. 4, as suggested above, they should hang on to this one, making sure they leave Day 1 with one of the top 10 talents, likely at wide receiver , in point or in cornerback.

Staying put and adding the best defensive back to the roster would be fine, but after handing out a pair of picks for new QB Carson Wentz, they should consider dropping to rack up darts.

There’s a real case to be made for every scenario here. If you think this is playoff gear, why not climb up to secure one of the top corners? If you’re taking a long-term view, why not add choices so new management can prepare for life beyond Kirk Cousins? In the end, they can probably stay where they are, stick with their other picks, and still land a high-flying rusher or cover man.

13. Texans: Stay Put

More than most teams with multiple firsts, they desperately need talent in every position. By choosing No. 3 and No. 13, they should at least be able to add an impact starter to their lineup for 2022.

14. Crows: Swap

They might as well sit and roll with the better pass rusher or corner, but with two third-rounders and five fourth-rounders, they shouldn’t hesitate to play for top-10 talent like Sauce Gardner or Jermaine Johnson II.

15. Eagles: Stay Put

It all depends on who’s available, but after moving one of their top three to 2023 in a big trade with the Saints, they should catch their breath and secure either a Day 1 starter or a long-term game. in defense or outside. Andrew Booth Jr. and Jordan Davis are two names to watch.

16. Saints: Swap

After trading multiple picks with the Eagles to add a first, they might as well double down and guarantee they get whoever they want, whether it’s at QB (Kenny Pickett? Matt Corral?) or somewhere else, like on the outside or in front.

After their blockbuster performance in free agency, they can’t sit idly by, can they? A starting offensive or defensive tackle can fall in their turns, but they have every reason to be aggressive, relying on Justin Herbert to win now.

18. Eagles: Trade Down

They push their chips to 2023, when QB might resurface on their radar. If they sit still and pick #15, they should look to deal again, this time to collect an additional Day 2 pick while sliding slightly lower in the first.

19. Saints: Stay Put

Maybe they’d use this as part of a huge step up from #16 (see above), but probably the best plan is to meet multiple needs at once, ideally leaving the first round with new long-range options at tackle and wide receiver.

A trade might be the only way to secure one of the top QB prospects, but are we so sure? By being patient, Pittsburgh will likely at least have a chance at the last “first-round” QB, whether it’s Corral or Willis or Desmond Ridder, without mortgaging additional 2022 picks they don’t have.

Do they intend to compete with the Bills this year? Or stay ahead of the Dolphins? If so, they’d be just as wise to consider going down — and giving themselves a few shots to fill the gaps at corner and linebacker — than splashing up.

With an additional first from the Davante Adams deal, they should be as active as possible in trying to shake things up, mainly to replace Adams. Whether it’s Drake London, Treylon Burks or Chris Olave, they need immediate help for Aaron Rodgers.

For two years in a row, they approached free agency like in 2017, prioritizing older/injured veterans. They are also without fourth and fifth rounders. In a deep, edge-rushing WR class, they can afford to slide down and add another pick or two.

They could use immediate help from the O line, and they should be able to find some here. Zion Johnson and Kenyon Green both make sense as plug-and-play guards. A WR or pass rusher could also be on the table.

25. Invoices: stay put

In such a deep WR class, they can sit back and wait for a rising prospect like Jameson Williams or Jahan Dotson to drop in their rounds. Josh Allen should be satisfied regardless.

26. Titans: Stay Put

It’s a place to watch for a surprise QB pick, but it’s also great to stay patient and see which better OT or WR slips. Don’t rule out a progression if they’re really interested in finding a successor to Ryan Tannehill.

Their roster is already properly assembled for a legitimate playoff run. No need to force minor issues and give up valuable future picks to get into the top 25. Hold on tight and build depth from the edge or up front.

28. Packers: Stay Put

That’s assuming they don’t pack this one with #22 to go up. If the Packers can leave Day 1 with a new starting receiver, as well as a new offensive tackle or passing passer, Brian Gutekunst should be hailed.

29. Leaders: Swap

With two frontrunners at their disposal after the Tyreek Hill deal, Kansas City is ready to move. The Chiefs are in winning mode now as long as Patrick Mahomes is under center, so skipping other teams to add a top WR makes a lot of sense.

30. Chiefs: stay put

Someone is going to be itching to get back in the first round here, but the Chiefs have plenty of extra picks after dealing Tyreek Hill. If they can address WR with the No. 29 (or via a trade), they can add a pass rusher or cornerback assist here.

31. Bengals: Trade Down

Obviously, they’re still in winning mode now after the Super Bowl offer, but in a draft where those final first-round picks aren’t entirely predictable, they shouldn’t mind adding an extra pick or two. to drop a few. places and give someone else the fifth year option.

32. Lions: Stay Put

A down trade is just as smart, but let’s just say they’re really intrigued by a QB who’s still on the board (Desmond Ridder?). Securing a fifth-grade option for a caller would be smart.

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