NFL Draft Analysis: The best pick from each round


The Tennessee Titans pick of Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks with the 18th overall pick was a major steal.

Every year the NFL Draft seems to become more and more loaded with talent, and 2022 was no different. No longer are the days where being picked in the first round means you have the highest chance of success in the league. For any draft analyst these days, it’s especially important to look out for high-quality players not just in the first couple rounds, but in every round, and this year there were plenty of high-quality players in every round. The Torch’s co-sports editor Brayden Schultz watched every pick of the draft live, and has composed a list of his favorite pick from each round. Here’s what it looks like: 

Round 1 – Treylon Burks, Wide Receiver – Tennessee Titans: It would’ve been too easy to go with one of the top ten picks, since they should be favorites anyway, so I’m going with the 18th overall pick, Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks. Not only am I in love with the prospect, but I’m also in love with what the Titans did to get him. 

The wide receiver market gets more and more ridiculously expensive with each passing year, and teams continue to take the bait. The Miami Dolphins traded a massive haul of assets for star WR Tyreek Hill, then proceeded to give him the largest contract for a WR in NFL history, averaging $30 million a year. Starting in 2023, Tyreek Hill by himself will account for 13.9% of the Miami Dolphins salary cap. 

The 2019 wide receiver class, including Terry McLaurin of the Commanders, Deebo Samuel of the 49ers, and DK Metcalf of the Seahawks, is becoming due for contract extensions, and NFL teams know that these star players are going to be asking for humongous contracts as the market continues to inflate. Teams quickly have to make decisions as to whether or not it’s worth spending nearly 15% of the salary cap on one player, no matter how good they are, and that’s what the Titans did in round one. 

The Titans traded 2019 second round draft pick A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles, who gave Brown a four-year, $100 million contract, averaging $25 million a year. A.J. Brown is a star player who’s value should undoubtedly skyrocket quarterback Jalen Hurts’ development and that weak passing offense as a whole.

The Titans used the 18th pick they got in return from Philadelphia on an immediate replacement in Burks. Many draft analysts have A.J. Brown as a pro comparison for Burks, so, if he reaches his full potential, the Titans just got A.J. Brown 2.0 for $90 million cheaper. It’s obviously a gamble, banking on Burks to exceed expectations in order for it to be worth it, but it’ll be a homerun if it works out, as it puts the Titans in a much better financial position to contend for a Super Bowl. 

Burks is a 6’2”, 225-pound “yards after catch (YAC)” specialist, who is also really good at making spectacular catches outside of his frame. His 4.55 40-yard dash time is misleading because he looks much quicker on tape, and he’s truly an artist with the ball in his hands. The way he can make defenders miss in the open field is unbelievable for a man his size, and his contact balance is really special. He never goes down after first contact. Burks might also be the most versatile wide receiver in this draft class. Arkansas played him primarily out of the slot to create mismatches and get him the ball in open space, but he also lined up in the backfield for Arkansas sometimes, showing how he can play the “wideback” role (like Deebo Samuel and Jaylen Waddle), which is becoming more common. Burks is an explosive big-play threat who can beat you on any level of the field, and Ryan Tannehill is absolutely going to love him. 

Round 2 – David Ojabo, Linebacker – Baltimore Ravens: Ojabo was a shoo-in first round pick before he unfortunately tore his achilles at Michigan’s pro day. However, the Ravens won’t need Ojabo to play in year one, and even though he won’t be playing, he can still learn a lot from the veteran talent the Ravens have in that front seven, including Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe. Once Ojabo is back from his injury, it will be very scary hours in Baltimore. Ojabo will likely lineup opposite 2021 first round pick Odafe Oweh, and that duo can terrorize opposing offensive lines for years to come. Getting Ojabo in round two is good value for now because of his injury, but once he starts playing, this pick should go down as one of, if not the biggest steal of the draft.

Ojabo is a pure speed rusher off the edge, and he’ll be a great fit for new Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. According to NFL Draft analyst Steve Muench, Ojabo has “one of the fastest get-offs in this class” and “excellent closing speed,” which really shows up on tape. There are not many offensive linemen who can keep up with Ojabo when he attacks their outside shoulder, and he has enough flexibility and athleticism to take really sharp angles and lunge at the quarterback without losing any of that get-off speed. Then, once he establishes that speed and linemen start to adjust for him attacking their outside shoulder, he’ll sell the speed rush and beat them with a spin move back to the inside and get to the QB that way. Ojabo, however, is not super strong, and he doesn’t really intimidate many offensive linemen with his bullrush. His hand-fighting is also not where it should be yet.

I think Ojabo’s career projects as a great complimentary edge rusher, and I think he’ll pair very well with Oweh in Baltimore. He’s a guy who can have years of sack production, but, at least early in his career, he might be a liability in run defense. 

 Round 3 – Leo Chenal, Linebacker – Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs’ draft class as a whole this year was phenomenal. General Manager Brett Veach really outdid himself. This third round pick, though, was maybe the best pick in the whole draft. Once again, there were many easier options in round three, such as the run on QBs, or Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean, and because of those, this pick is not getting the attention it deserves.

Chenal is 6’3,” 250 pounds and plays with 100 percent aggressiveness on every play. He is super strong at the point of attack, he’s good at shedding blocks and making himself small to get through narrow gaps at the line of scrimmage, and he’s also good at using his hands to get himself in an advantageous position to make plays. He had eight sacks as a blitzer in 2021, and when gaps open up at the line of scrimmage, his acceleration and closing speed is lightning quick. He ran a 4.53 40-yard dash and his total relative athletic score (RAS) was 9.99 out of 10. Chenal is super fun to watch on tape and should get a lot of playing time early for what was a weak Kansas City front seven last season.

Chenal can be very productive as a pass-rusher and blitzer early in his career, but there are some things he still needs to work on as an off-ball linebacker. The first weakness is also his biggest strength: his aggressiveness. While he is able to effectively read the field and dissect plays as they develop, he sometimes tends to overshoot as the backside linebacker or as the strong side linebacker on counter plays. He isn’t bad in coverage, but he’s not great either, and there is room for improvement with his lateral quickness and ability to change direction.

Round 4 – Perrion Winfrey, Defensive Tackle – Cleveland Browns: The Cleveland Browns were in desperate need of run defense coming into the draft, and they could’ve had Jordan Davis out of Georgia if they hadn’t traded the 13th overall pick to Houston for Deshaun Watson. Instead, they end up with Oklahoma product Perrion Winfrey, who is a good value in round four and gives them exactly what they need. 

Winfrey is a guy who first popped on my radar after his MVP performance at the Senior Bowl, and after watching his tape, he isn’t someone I’d look forward to playing against. He is, to put it simply, obsessed with football and might be the hardest-working rookie in the Browns draft class this year. There’s a video of Senior Bowl practice where Winfrey beats the offensive lineman with a hand swipe-and-rip move, calls him back to the line of scrimmage for another rep. Then, he proceeds to beat him again, this time with a bull rush, followed by Winfrey screaming “GET THE **** OFF ME!”

Winfrey is about 20 pounds lighter than the average defensive tackle at290 pounds, but he hits like a truck at the point of attack. He’s good at disengaging offensive linemen in order to chase down running backs or scrambling quarterbacks, and he has the speed to catch them, too. He ran a 4.89 40-yard dash, the fourth fastest in the class, and he was running so hard that he broke the chain he was wearing while he was running. 

Even if he isn’t the best player on the field, he’ll still give you maximum effort on every play, and it’s this effort that has caused him to improve every single year. He started his career in junior college before going to Oklahoma and turned into a fourth round draft pick. His personality should help him get along greatly in the locker room with fellow defensive lineman Myles Garrett and with the Cleveland culture as a whole. He’s exactly the kind of run defender the Browns needed, and they hope to see some production from him in year one.

Round 5 – Thomas Booker, Defensive Tackle – Houston Texans: Thomas Booker is the most elite athlete you’ve probably never heard of. This guy is 6’3,” 301 pounds and completely destroyed the NFL combine. He posted the fastest three-cone drill, fastest shuttle, fifth-best 40-yard dash, and fourth-best broad jump of all defensive tackles in 2022. His RAS measured at 9.88, which was the highest of all nine Houston Texans draft picks this year. However, it’s not his athleticism or measurables that stand out. It’s his brain.

He went to Stanford, so he should be smart, but Booker might be the smartest player at any position in the whole draft class. I listened to an interview he did with the Bootleg Football Podcast wherein he detailed the pre-snap battle at the line of scrimmage between offensive linemen and defensive linemen, and how every little nuance and movement matters. He used current Philadelphia Eagles center Landon Dickerson as an example of how defensive linemen try to look for tells as to when the center is going to snap the ball, such as if they drop their back or dip their head slightly. However, Booker said that Dickerson wouldn’t do that. Dickerson would look around and snap the ball so as to not give defensive linemen a tell for when the ball was going to be snapped, similar to how Patrick Mahomes throws no-look passes. The interview was incredibly eye-opening, and having that knowledge of the game should make Booker not just a really good player in the league but perhaps a coach or analyst after his playing career is done. 

Round 6 – Matt Araiza, Punter – Buffalo Bills: You might know him better as the “Punt God,” or the “Leg of Steel,” but Matt Araiza posted numbers unlike any we’ve ever seen from a punter before. Araiza is a generational talent at the position. He can flip the field with ease and gethis team out of a jam. He set the FBS single-season record in 2021, averaging 51.2 yards per punt, and led the FBS with 40 punts downed inside the 20-yard line, per ESPN Stats & Information. 

Araiza broke the record for most punts over 50 yards in a season with 39 and most punts over 60 yards in a season with 18. He had six punts over 70 yards, two punts over 80 yards, and, of course, he had the longest punt of the season at a whopping 86 yards. The guy went from losing the punting job in 2020 to becoming the Ray Guy award winner and maybe the greatest punter in college football history in 2021. 

Unfortunately, he’ll be going to a team in Buffalo that has not been known to punt the ball much in recent years, having only punted 52 times in 2021, tied for the fifth least in the NFL. When he is on the field, though, he should be just as good, if not better at being a punter as Josh Allen is at being a quarterback. There will be a difference in conditions, however, as he’s going from playing home games in warm and dry southern California to frigid and snowy western New York. It’ll be interesting to see how he manages that the few times we might see him in a game. 

Round 7 – Rasheed Walker, Offensive Tackle, Green Bay Packers:  Rasheed Walker was a three-year starter at left tackle for the Nittany Lions, but he projects better as a guard in the NFL. With David Bakhtiari established on the left side for the Packers and Elgton Jenkins holding things down on the right, barring injury, if Walker were to get any playing time in year one, I would expect it to be on the interior.

Rasheed Walker’s best game on film was against Michigan, where he, for the most part, locked up Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo on the edge, which is impressive. He does have the pure strength to survive as a tackle. He can absorb contact at the point of attack and is capable of getting downfield to pancake smaller defenders at the second level on run plays. 

His lateral quickness and hand placement are concerns to me, which is why I think he projects better as a guard. Walker is not the fastest, he can be beaten with speed off the edge, and he has a tendency to overextend and lose balance. At guard, he won’t have to rely on that lateral movement, and he can use his strength to eat up bull rushes and dominate in the run game. Walker is a developmental prospect for now, he has a lot of minor issues to clean up, but the upside is certainly there.