The NFL season provides lots of excitement for football fans from September through early February. However, what happens when the Super Bowl marks the conclusion of the season and the start of a long offseason?
While executives are provided with lots of material from games about where teams need to improve and are busy planning, fans and media members alike are also busy guessing what their favorite teams will do in free agency and the leadup to the draft.
Here are the five winners and five losers of the NFCt.
Five winners of the draft
The Falcons made solid additions to both sides of the ball. After trading quarterback Matt Ryan to the Colts, Atlanta was left with Marcus Mariota, so drafting quarterback Desmond Ridder on day two will bring in some competition for the starting position. After losing receiver Russel Gage to Tampa and with the suspension of Calvin Ridley, the Falcons were also in need of a strong receiver, finding him in Drake London, who should be a solid complement to tight end Kyle Pitts. The additions of edges Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone and linebacker Troy Anderson filled needs as well, as Atlanta struggled with pressure rate last season. Running back Tyler Allgeier and tight end John FitzPatrick will also offer more offensive options for the Falcons.
Although the Panthers had few picks in the first two days, they were able to bolster their offensive line with offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu and grabbed their quarterback of the future on the second day. With Carolina still unsure on whether it will stick with quarterback Sam Darnold, the Panthers went out and chose Matt Corral to ensure they have a second option, making for a solid second day pick. Carolina then added athletic talent to its roster on day three with picks of linebacker Brandon Smith, edge Amare Barno, and cornerback Kalon Barnes.
Green Bay Packers
While the Packers drafted a few receivers to try to soften the blow of losing stud Davante Adams, that wasn’t the only thing they didt. Though many expected Green Bay to take a receiver on day one, instead the team took two defenders from Georgia, linebacker Quay Walker and defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt, helping to shore up the front seven. With wide receivers Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure coming on days two and three, the Packers addressed the wide receiver need. Green Bay has been able to find value in receivers in later rounds in the past, and Watson and Doubs should be able to stretch the field and provide a deep threat with Marquez Valdes-Scantling now gone. Edge Kingsley Enagbare was a solid find late in the draft while the Packers also provided some depth along the offensive line with additions of tackles Sean Rhyan, Zach Tom and Rasheed Walker.
The only thing really needed to say about the strength of the Eagles’ draft is the additions of defensive tackle Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean. While Davis will boost Philadelphia’s run defense, Dean is an elite playmaker from an elite Georgia defense and was a steal on day two, despite his injury issues. Philadelphia also grabbed center Cam Jurgens, linebacker Kyron Johnson and tight end Grant Calcaterra, who all should be valuable backups on the team.
The Seahawks finally drafted some offensive line help, right after trading quarterback Russell Wilson. Seattle used its first pick of the draft on one of the top offensive tackles, Charles Cross, and then got another tackle on day two with Abraham Lucas. Both will fill a need the Seahawks needed at tackle. While the lack of choosing a quarterback while landing a running back may be questionable, Seattle can still find a starter in free agency or wait for next year’s draft when the class is strong, and Kenneth Walker is a strong back to round out the running back room. Seattle also loaded up on defense, with cornerbacks Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen added depth to the secondary and edges Boye Mafe and Tyreke Smith offering options up front.
Five losers of the draft
Chicago didn’t have a first rounder after trading to get in position to select quarterback Justin Fields in 2021. However, the Bears did have plenty of picks in the remaining days. The Bears opened their 2022 draft by going defense, with cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker. While filling spots in the secondary was needed, Chicago is also lacking on the front line and receiver and more likely should have opted to draft offense first, thereby helping Fields improve as well. That chance did come in round three, with receiver Velus Jones Jr. Though fast, he is older than the other receivers in the draft, turning 25 his rookie year. Chicago finally addressed the offensive line on day three, grabbing a few tackles in Braxton Jones, Zach Thomas and Ja’Tyre Carter, who should compete for a starting spot and develop over time.
The Cowboys didn’t get out to the strongest start with their first couple of picks, selecting offensive tackle Tyler Smith and edge Sam Williams. While Smith fills a need at the line and is a strong run blocker, he is also penalty-prone and will need to develop while likely being in the starting lineup. As for Williams, he’s a solid pass rusher, however off-the-field issues landed him a suspension and some may question how early he was picked. With the uncertainty of how some other picks will develop as well, there seems to be a few too many ifs in this class to call Dallas’ draft a win.
The Rams didn’t have any pick on the first day due to tradesi. However Los Angeles got to it after that. While Los Angeles did fill a need with guard Logan Bruss after losing Austin Corbett, it can be tough to get excited about a draft class that begins in the third round. While newcomer Kyren Williams can add an option as a running back with receiving abilities, he has struggled with ball security and fumbles, and though cornerback Derion Kendrick once looked like a first-rounder at Clemson, he regressed at Georgia. The good thing here for Los Angeles is it has already built its Super-Bowl winning team.
The Saints got one of the top receivers in the class in Chris Olave, however they traded away some future picks to get him. Olave will be a strong deep threat opposite Michael Thomas, however with New Orleans choosing not to select a quarterback, Jameis Winston will remain the go-to guy. New Orleans also found someone to replace Terron Armstead in tackle Trevor Penning, and filled some needs in the secondary. However, the Saints may have drafted too early in a couple spots. The addition of cornerback Alontae Taylor at 49 left some people scratching their heads while taking defensive tackle Jordan Jackson at 194 may have also been questionable, with better options on the board.
The Commanders’ draft this year was all about offense, with receiver Jahon Dotson being their first pick. Dotson had some of the best hands in the draft and will be good next to receiver Terry McLaurin. He might’ve been a reach, with Washington drafting him at 16 after the run on receivers started while he was projected to go late first-early second. Washington pivoted to defense and scooped tackle Phidarian Mathis, another reach at 47 with other options available. The Commanders’ good day came on day three, when they were able to find someone to compete with quarterback Carson Wentz for the starting spot in Sam Howell and also locked up tight end Cole Turner to fill a need.
While draft grades are given out immediately after the draft is over, a team’s picks can’t be truly evaluated until the players have had time to develop and actually play in an NFL game. However, it does appear that some teams in the NFC made better moves than others.