As I’ve done over the past couple of years I’ve attempted to use free big board sites to see if there is a consensus opinion of the top 65 players. This year, as in the past the consensus was short of 65. This year the consensus was lost after the 42nd selection. This is a few picks less than in previous years which seemed to be at 46 to 48. I might attribute the relative lack of consensus to the number of players with an additional Covid year in college or it might be due to the absence of outstanding QBs.
You will see the actual draft selections of the earlier consensus lists below:
Clear and strong consensus (20 / 21)
Very close consensus (19 / 27)
Close consensus (7 / 13)
General Consensus (1/ 5)
Nearest to miss Consensus (actually selected - 5)
Players drafted in the first 65 without a previous consensus (19)
Note: Thornton was the only top 65 selection who didn’t make any of the selected big board top 100 players.
A couple of thoughts on the draft:
Pittsburgh: Very puzzling that the Steelers chose 2 QBs and 2 WRs but did not put any attention to their offense line. The line continues to look inadequate to pursue a successful rushing attack. They have a very robust number of WRs but the line will be even more stressed in a passing attack with whichever QB is the starter. None of the QBs can be expected to have Big Ben’s quick release. Johnson, Claypool, Pickens, Boykin, Miller and Austin are all down field type receivers and they didn’t replace Smith-Schuster’s role for quick release patterns.
Everyone seems to assume that the defense will be an upper echelon unit. I’m not so sure as the defensive backfield is thin and the defensive line is aging. I’m not sure that Leal will fit in a 3 man front. Adding Jack as an inside LB should make that the best unit on the team. Although Bush hasn’t performed as expected I expect him to get back to his rookie level of play this year as he is a year removed from his ACL injury.
I’m happy to see the Pickett selection. It might work out but it seems similar to the Quinn, Weeden and Manziel crap shots that the Browns took in the past. Each roll of the dice involved at least two years of commitment. If Pickett is as mediocre as I expect the Steelers are getting ready to tread water on offense for a couple of years.
Cincinnati: A solid attempt in the draft to build depth. It is not commonly recognized that last year’s success was accomplished with among the fewest injury losses for an NFL team. That is a condition that will often revert to the norm across seasons.
They did improve the offensive line through free agency. Their offense will again be very potent as well as balanced. Burrows looks to be among the best QBs in the league.
The defense is solid at all levels. The weakest area would be the CBs and the depth at the position. Not an outstanding unit but in company with a powerful offense it should be more than adequate.
Baltimore: As usual the Ravens did an outstanding job in the draft. They continue to collect and develop young players, let some of them move on at the end of their rookie contracts and then get a bunch of compensatory picks to keep the roster flush. Linderbaum might be the only starter from this draft but many of the players will be starters in two years, just as players from the 2020 draft will be starters this year. I hate to admire the management of a rival team as much as I do the Ravens (the original Browns that I grew up with).
This was the team most impacted by injuries last year. The Browns were probably in the top 5. Getting all of their CBs, RBs, OT and QB back in addition to a good draft makes them, in my mind, the most improved team in the NFL going into 2022.
How they were able to take advantage of the Cardinals, getting a first round pick for Brown is a mystery to me. It does leave them with a very thin roster of WRs. The offense will remain potent with multiple RBs a great TE and a very dangerous running and passing QB.
The defense will be very good and they are two deep across the front. If they have a weakness it is depth at CB but, Peters and Humphrey might be the best pair in the league.
The Ravens along with the Bills are the teams to worry about in the AFC.
Browns: Hopefully their off season isn’t yet complete. A solid draft but, without a first round choice they probably added depth and development players. Everything except the defensive line looks good to go. Like the Ravens the WR room lacks depth. Speaking of WRs doesn’t the Cooper deal look good now. Three years at $20M/yr for a 5th round draft choice. The insanity for WRs since then makes it the best WR deal of the year!
The desire to move on from Mayfield is at the front burner. I was a big fan/supporter but it is obvious that his own behavior has poisoned the well for now. It will likely take some concessions from him regarding his contract, the Browns on the deal and a team that needs a QB. Right now it looks very likely that the Browns will have to keep the petulant child, maybe through the season. If he had acted in his own best interest he’d be on another team now.
Unless Watson settles with the complainants I don’t think that he will receive a suspension this year. After next year’s court cases, depending on any awards, he might be suspended. If he plays all season I think that the Browns can make the playoffs. To me the biggest question is will Stef’s offense be varied and creative like 2020 or stale and predictable like 2021? Can he use the talents of Watson, Chubb, Cooper and others to be a dynamic and productive offense? This year in the AFC a strong defense won’t be enough.