It’s easy to see the glowing opportunity and exciting future for every team and every draft pick after Draft Weekend. Still, we can’t forget that plenty of teams got much worse (relative to where they could have been), and current players got thrown into tumultuous situations.
My Draft Grades article breaks down the full draft grades for every team, but here is a look at the stock changes. Not every poor drafting team hurt itself too much, and not every perfect draft pushes a team too far ahead. For some though, the draft is a pivotal part of the offseason, and their stock is affected the most.
The Wide Receiver Position – Stock UP
If you are a Wide Receiver playing in the NFL currently, you are on Cloud 9 right now. Your position is getting paid more handsomely than it’s ever been paid, and it seems receivers have more power now than they ever have. To solidify this new reality even more, 6 of the first 18 picks were receivers (a whopping third of the early 1st round), including 2 trade-ups. One of those trade-ups included 5 total picks (the Saints for Chris Olave)! It’s never been better to be a Wide Receiver.
Justin Fields – Stock DOWN
The Bears didn’t have a 1st round pick, so we didn’t expect them to get any game-breakers, but with two 2nd round picks they should have addressed offense with at least one of them. Instead, they spent both on secondary players. Then, they finally spent their 3rd round pick on a receiver, but that receiver is a special-teams specialist who is turning 25, and who was a consensus Day 3 pick, not Day 2.
I am truly terrified for Fields’ life, as he will get eaten alive behind the Bears’ horrendous O-Line without having any quality receivers to throw the ball to.
Jalen Hurts – Stock UP
When the Eagles traded capital from this year’s draft to the next, I was concerned for Hurts’s long-term outlook. Then the Eagles traded for AJ Brown. Now, Hurts couldn’t be in a better situation to succeed. He was given a star Wide Receiver to pair with his uber-talented 2nd-year wideout. He has a stable of capable runners behind him, a lock-down defense, and one of the best O-Lines in football to play behind. If he can’t make anything happen, he has no one to blame but himself.
Ryan Tannehill – Stock DOWN
When the Titans drafted Malik Willis, I thought it wouldn’t amount to much. At best, Willis needs multiple years before he’s ready to start. Tannehill should have plenty of room to operate before the Titans even consider switching signal-callers.
Then Tannehill came out and denied his responsibility to mentor Willis. Situations like this never end well, and the locker room could become a toxic environment filled with resentment. The front office might side with their veteran over the incoming 3rd-rounder, but with Willis’s upside and Tannehill’s struggles to “get over the hump”, Tannehill’s Tennessee stint could end sooner than we expect.
Jared Goff – Stock UP
The Lions were in a prime position to select a Quarterback in this draft, multiple times. Instead, they opted to build a stacked roster, and load up with talent. The consensus assumption is that they are building around whichever Quarterback they select next year, but I don’t think they will be bad enough in 2022 to have a premium pick to select a Quarterback.
This means Goff could be their long-term solution at the position, and he has an amazing supporting cast to do so. Surrounded by a young and hyper-talented offense, and a much-improved defense, we could see the best version of Goff we’ve ever seen.
Kadarius Toney – Stock DOWN
Amid the trade rumors, the Giants went ahead and selected Wan’Dale Robinson in the 2nd round. This was a clear reach according to every mainstream Big Board, but Robinson’s play style signifies that Toney’s time in New York has come to an end. If the Giants can’t trade him, I assume he will be cut. Wan’Dale was clearly drafted to be the Toney replacement. A Wide Receiver with character issues being cut from a rebuilding team for lack of maturity and effort doesn’t sound like someone that teams will be fighting to sign.
Jameis Winston – Stock UP
Like the Lions, the Saints were one of the candidates to take a Quarterback. After trading next year’s 1st for an extra one this year, most analysts were convinced that it’s Quarterback time for New Orleans.
Jameis wasn’t bad in 2021, but his campaign was cut short, and he was far from exciting or flashy. Luckily for him, the Saints did the opposite of replacing him, they put premium assets around him. They traded up for a 1st-round receiver (and the No. 1 receiver on my Board), and then followed that by selecting a 1st-round Left Tackle. Winston seems to have the runway all to himself now, on a Saints roster with practically no flaws.
The 2022 Quarterback Prospects – Stock DOWN
Even the scouts that were the lowest on this Quarterback class, expected more than one to go in the 1st round. To be fair, I think the criticism of this class mostly stems from the lack of prospects from blue-blood programs. Still, with only one Quarterback selected in the first 2 rounds, and none selected in the Top 19 picks, the NFL made it clear that they don’t believe in these prospects at all.
On the bright side, that could lead to less pressure on the development of these young prospects, which is always a good thing. On the other hand, draft capital is directly correlated to a team’s commitment to you. Being drafted late will make it harder for them to earn the starting job, and could mean they are on a tighter leash even when starting.
Kenny Pickett – Stock UP
Unlike the other Quarterbacks, Kenny Pickett couldn’t have landed in a better situation. Getting to play under a Hall-of-Fame Head Coach who’s never had a losing season is as perfect as it gets. Not to mention, he’s surrounded by a ton of young ascending talents. The O-Line is awful, but no one expects Pickett to start in Year 1. He’ll likely sit for a year behind Mitch Trubisky and then come in to play when the O-Line is improved.
Trey McBride – Stock DOWN
There was only one Tight End in this draft with a high draft grade, and that was McBride. He had separated himself from the pack and had a chance to be the only Tight End to play well in this class. Then he went to Arizona, where he will compete with Zach Ertz for targets from a streaky Quarterback who doesn’t favor the Tight End position. If his path leads to success, it will be long before we see it.
Treylon Burks – Stock UP
Of all the landing spots Burks could have gone to, in which we would all have had questions about his role, he went to the only one that is tailor-made for him. With the departing Brown’s role vacated, Burks will slide right into an offense that was built around a Wide Receiver just like him. This is a perfect fit, and Burks is a lock to be an immediate NFL contributor. That usually leads to future success.
James Cook – Stock DOWN
Buffalo was easily the best landing spot for any Running Back, except James Cook. Playing as a sub-200lb receiving specialist, he would need to go to a pass-heavy team that hyper-targets the Running Back position, while also having little competition for those targets. I don’t see him supplanting Devin Singletary entirely, and Zack Moss won’t be phased out of this offense completely either. Matt Breida is still there as well. All of these players are better pass-catchers than they are runners.
Carolina Panthers – Stock UP
Prior to the draft, I was adamant that regardless of whether the Panthers get their Quarterback of the future or their franchise Left Tackle, I would be doubtful of their future outlook. There was no way they could get both with only 1 pick in the Top 100. After not trading out of the 6th pick, I was even more sure of this.
Sure enough, the Panthers managed to trade up and take Matt Corral, one of my favorite Quarterbacks in this class. Behind an improved O-Line and with elite weapons at his disposal, I don’t expect Corral to have any trouble stealing this job from Sam Darnold. He has the talent to be their franchise QB, and I think he will be.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Stock DOWN
WHAT ARE THEY DOING?? No draft left me more befuddled than the Jaguars’. I can’t even imagine what went through their head, unless they didn’t think things through at all. No playmakers for Trevor Lawrence? Travon Walker at No. 1? Trading up into the 1st round for an off-ball Linebacker after investing heavily at that position in Free Agency? Following that up with another off-ball Linebacker in the 3rd? I just don’t understand.
Coming into the offseason, the Jaguars had a ton of valuable assets, between their draft picks and their budget. Going into the 2022 season, they are hardly better. This was a colossally embarrassing attempt at turning this franchise around. I fully expect this team to have a Top 5 pick in next year’s draft.
New York Jets – Stock UP
The Jets stock is soaring so high after this offseason, it might even be too high. The Jets and Jaguars went into this offseason with similar assets, but unlike the Jaguars, they knocked it out of the park. They got an A+ draft grade from me, and they signed plenty of talented contributors in Free Agency, without overspending. This is one of the most improved teams. The hype is so high, that they have crossed over into the realm of expectations. If the Jets have another poor season and finish with a Top 10 pick again, that would be a massive disappointment. They need to make waves now. I hope the pressure doesn’t hurt the development and progression of the young players on this team.
Bill Belichick – Stock DOWN
BB is the greatest coach of all time and is a lock for the Hall of Fame. He is not, however, the greatest General Manager of all time, but he must think he is. His high-value draft picks in past years have completely bombed, and now his 1st round selection led to laughs of mockery and ridicule from other NFL GMs. The rest of his draft was equally puzzling, drafting Tyquan Thornton over other consensus better receivers. He then double-dipped at Corner, taking 2 prospects that were not only consensus reaches, but who carry massive question marks.
I don’t have any idea what he’s doing, but it’s time for Robert Kraft to relegate BB back to what he’s good at, being a Head Coach.
Baltimore Ravens Run Game – Stock UP
What’s going overlooked in this draft, is the likely revert back to the 2019 version of this Ravens offense. This is a much-needed move, as their attempts to make Lamar a more balanced passer in a balanced offense have led to a swift offensive decline. They were at their best when they ran all over defenses, and after drafting Tyler Linderbaum and trading away Marquise Brown, that projection seems more likely. Assuming they aren’t as devastated by injuries as they were last year, they should be a Superbowl contender.
Steve Keim – Stock DOWN
Steve Keim has the longest leash I’ve ever seen. He traded for Hopkins, but I think we can all agree that was more on Bill O’Brien than it was on Keim. He also drafted Kyler Murray a year after drafting Josh Rosen. While the Murray move was a good move, it just shows how awful the Rosen pick was. Add to that his extreme overpay for Hollywood Brown, and I don’t see any reason he should still be so secure in his job.