The Chicago Bears didn’t have a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Instead, they have quarterback Justin Fields. And yes, that’s a win. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t reasons to pay attention to how the first round unfolded.
A total of five first-round rookies were added to the NFC North, with four of them headed to the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.
Here are our grades for each of those five selections.
Round 1, Pick 2: Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan
The Lions were the beneficiary of the questionable decision by the Jacksonville Jaguars to take Georgia edge rusher, Travon Walker, with the first overall pick. Hutchinson was considered the best all-around football player in the 2022 NFL Draft for several months, but Walker’s incredible NFL Combine performance pushed him to the top of the class. For a team like the Lions in the middle of a rebuild, adding a culture-builder like Hutchinson is a home run.
Round 1, Pick 12: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
The Lions traded up from the 32nd pick to No. 12 to select Williams, who was widely regarded as the top wide receiver in this year’s draft. His field-flipping ability rivals the likes of Miami Dolphins superstar Tyreek Hill, but the torn ACL he suffered in the College Football Championship in January forced him down the board a few slots. I have some questions about whether the Lions can take advantage of what Williams does best with a quarterback like Jared Goff, but assuming Goff isn’t in Detroit for the long-term, Williams has enough talent to emerge as the most explosive player in the division in a few years.
Green Bay Packers:
Round 1, Pick 22: Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
This was one of the surprises of the first round. Walker is a talented linebacker and is a plug-and-play starter, but with such a glaring need at wide receiver, it’s shocking that Packers GM Brian Gutekunst decided to ignore the position. Walker is an upgrade on defense; there’s no doubt about it. But quarterback Aaron Rodgers can’t be pleased right now.
Round 1, Pick 28: Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia
The Packers had TWO chances to add a wide receiver in the first round and didn’t do it. This, after trading all-world pass-catcher Davante Adams a few weeks ago. Wyatt is one of the best interior defensive linemen in this year’s draft, and he’ll fill an immediate need in Green Bay’s starting lineup. But a wide receiver like North Dakota State’s Christian Watson would’ve made a lot of sense here.
Round 1, Pick 32: Lewis Cine, SAF, Georgia
The Vikings traded down from No. 12 overall to No. 32 — they dealt their pick to the Lions, which Detroit flipped into Jameson. And while that may be a net negative for Minnesota and the NFC North, Cine is an excellent safety who was trending as a player on the rise in recent weeks. He’ll immediately start next to Harrison Smith and bring plus coverage and hitting ability to the Vikings’ secondary.