The biggest draft class in the history of the National Football League is officially in the books with 262 players joining the ranks of professional football players.
What are the big things from this draft? What lessons can be learned from the class of 2022.
There were a record-number of trades involving first-round picks, a tie for the most wide receivers drafted in the first three rounds, and a quarterback class that was not valued by evaluators and decision-makers despite projections that teams would panic at the sport.
Are these trends or one-offs?
The dominance of the SEC in producing talent for the NFL draft and the Baltimore Ravens ability to own the draft board are two trends that continue to hold true.
As we pack up the 2022 draft and begin to prepare for the next one, we have five big things to consider.
The quarterback grades in this class were the focus of much of the talk surrounding the draft, as teams were expected to reach for them much earlier in the draft than they were worth.
It never happened.
The last quarterback to be drafted in the first round was Kenny Pickett of Pitt. It took until the third round before the second quarterback was taken by the Atlanta Falcons. The second quarterback to be taken in the draft was picked up again.
Instead of panicking and over-drafting this year's quarterback class, NFL teams sought other avenues for acquiring new starters. Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson were traded to new teams to become starters, while Marcus Mariota was signed in free agency.
The 2020 class had three quarterbacks selected in the first round, while five quarterbacks were selected in the first round in the 2021. The eight teams are tied to a young quarterback that was drafted within the last two years.
When it was all said and done, the class of quarterbacks went where they were projected to go, with the exception of Liberty's Malik Willis going to the TennesseeTitans in the third round.
One source told me that none of the quarterbacks were seen as starters. If you are a franchise quarterback or not, then why waste a pick on a guy you are not sure about?
Premium positions for roster building have been quarterback, left tackle, pass-rusher and cornerback. Add a wide receiver to the list.
Seventeen wide receivers were selected through the first three rounds of the draft, which is tied with 1994 and 2007 for the most in the first three rounds. The receiver group has seen more movement this year than any other position.
The players at the receiver position are pro- ready, and there is talent coming out of the college ranks. The days of rookies not impacting teams are over, just look at what Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase have done in the last two seasons. The growth of the passing game in college football and the exposure to more advanced passing concepts starting with 7-on-7 camps in youth football has caused an explosion of talent at wide receiver with 17 being drafted in the first round in the last three years alone.
The trend is tied to rising salaries as teams look to get younger and cheaper instead of paying a star upwards of $25 million per year. It's also about the NFL being a copycat league. The Cincinnati Bengals went from worst to first thanks to the three wide receiver selections in the first two rounds -- Chase, Tee and Tyler. The philosophy is now a proven winner and teams are loading up on young receivers in an effort to rebuild what the Bengals have.
Who can do the same thing as the Bengals? The New Orleans Saints are a great place to start. Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams are both expected to break out in the first year.
They have to find their own Joe.
Chris is a top prospect in the upcoming NFL draft.
The previous record was set when 10 teams didn't make a selection. The Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Rams didn't make their first picks until the end of the third round. We were taught that trading among clubs has never been easier.
The Minnesota Vikings traded twice within their own division, which allowed the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers to move up and select wide receiver.
Why has the trade philosophy changed? There are more general managers who came up through the front office ranks who have close-knit relationships that allow for better communication to facilitate trades.
There were few consensus top-tier players in the active trade market this year. The amount of parity among player grades this year made general managers more aggressive in trying to grab those few players considered elite.
Here are some of my favorite moves.
The Lions moved all the way up the board to get Williams. The Lions made an aggressive move, but one that only cost a first-, second- and third-round choice.
The Eagles made a move to jump the Baltimore Ravens for a player everyone knew their neighbors to the southwest wanted -- Georgia's Jordan Davis. Pick No. 15 and three Day 3 selections were needed to jump the Ravens.
Once Trent McDuffie slipped down the board, the Kansas City Chiefs were able to be very aggressive. One of the best moves of the draft was the packaging picks.
The SEC has the record for most draft picks made in the first three rounds by a conference, with 40 picks in the 2020 draft. It came close again this year with 34 selections in the first three rounds, including a record seven defenders from Georgia.
Georgia has 15 total picks through seven rounds, which is tied for the third-most in draft history.
Alabama, which came in second place with six players selected in the first three rounds this year and now has 40 players drafted in the first two rounds since 2016 is the most of any team.
A total of 65 SEC players were selected in the draft, which is tied with last year for the most from one conference in a single draft.
The SEC is still the conference with the most potential as teams prepare to evaluate the upcoming class of draft prospects.
As the Ravens moved from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996, Newsome took over as the team's executive vice president of player personnel. Newsome is one of the best general managers in the history of the league.
No one knew if the long streak of excellent drafting in Baltimore would continue after Newsome retired. DeCosta learned from his predecessor.
The Ravens drafted three of my top 30 players and four of my top 40 in the same draft. Each came at a position of need and represented an incredible value.
Kyle Hamilton was the steal of the draft at pick 14. The Ravens picked up an extra first-round pick after trading Brown to the Cards.
They were not done. In Round 2, the team stole Michigan pass-rusher David Ojabo and brought him back to Baltimore, where he is now running the defense. Ojabo was projected to be a top 15 pick before he tore his Achilles at the Michigan pro day.
David Ojabo got emotional after being drafted by the Ravens.
The Ravens sat tight and waited for a nose tackle to go in the first round.
The award-winning class continued on Day 3 with Minnesota offensive tackle Daniel Faalele being selected at No. 110 overall -- one of the best values in the entire draft -- and filling an immediate need at right tackle. Jalyn Armour-Davis was a steal in the fourth round.
Each player drafted by Baltimore was ranked as a top 100 player on my final rankings. You own a draft class like that.