Maybe it’s the fact little movement is going on behind the scenes, or maybe it’s because there are no star quarterbacks to debate, but the build-up to the NFL Draft has been underwhelming. That’s true even for the hardcore fans, or even those who have top draft picks.
The debate to take an offensive tackle or an edge rusher at No. 1 overall doesn’t quite cut it like the 2012 choice between Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, both standout quarterbacks. The 2022 event could break a streak of four straight years with a quarterback going first overall: Baker Mayfield to Cleveland in 2018, Kyler Murray to Arizona in 2019, Joe Burrow to Cincinnati in 2020, and Trevor Lawrence to Jacksonville in 2021.
The Jaguars have the first overall pick again, and they just agreed to a deal with left tackle Cam Robinson on a $54 million extension, so that may have settled the offensive tackle position for the time being.
Behind them are the Detroit Lions, who acquired Jared Goff prior to last season. Then it’s the Houston Texans, who said they’re going to give Davis Mills III another year. The New York Jets, slated fourth, selected Zach Wilson a year ago. If the New York Giants stick with Daniel Jones for another year or go with a different option at No. 5, it could be the first draft since 2013 that a quarterback wasn’t selected in the top five.
Is that bad for draft discourse for a league that typically dominates the headlines? Likely. The quarterback class is also underwhelming with Liberty’s Malik Willis, Pitt’s Kenny Pickett and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder the top three options. They could prove to be solid starters but nobody at the position is a surefire lock.
The lack of draft buzz can be attributed to the franchise-changing position being settled, at least for now, at the top of the draft. It doesn’t seem worthwhile for a team to trade up to select a quarterback unless it’s to No. 5 to jump in front of Carolina, the most likely team to select a quarterback.
That’s after the general manager allegedly told Sam Darnold they may select a quarterback in the draft. Then the Panthers’ divisional rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, have their general manager saying they hope to come out of the draft with a quarterback.
One of the most memorable blunders of the 2016 draft was a video released shortly before the event that showed star-left tackle Laremy Tunsil in a gas mask. He maintains that his Twitter account was hacked, but a surefire top-10 or higher pick slipped 13th.
Tunsil announced he is making a non-fungible token (NFT) out of the video, trying to make light of the situation. He’s also pledged a portion of the proceeds to the 1 of 1 NFT to The Last Prisoner Project, which supports those incarcerated due to marijuana offenses.
Tunsil has turned out fine after an emotional night that caused mass confusion. He was traded from Miami to Houston for two first-round picks, and he’d go on to sign a three-year extension valued at $66 million with $50 million guaranteed.
It’s been an unprecedented offseason of quarterback shuffling. Aaron Rodgers returning to the Packers seems like a footnote. Russell Wilson was traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos for Drew Lock. The Indianapolis Colts acquired Matt Ryan from Atlanta and traded Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders.
The biggest bombshell was the Cleveland Browns acquiring Deshaun Watson for three first-round picks, a third-round pick, and two fourth-round picks. Watson and the Browns agreed to a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million extension. It created shockwaves as he still followed 22 civil suits accusing him of sexual misconduct.
Tom Brady spent 40 days in retirement before deciding he was going to return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Of course, that was after the QB shuffling and other players that gave the Buccaneers a good chance to not only win their division but also reach another Super Bowl, though this time under Todd Bowles as head coach.
The quarterback movement may not be finished as the Browns still have Baker Mayfield, who may be the most coveted player on draft night.