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2022 NFL Draft First Round Burning Questions for Each AFC Team

by Gary Zamarripa | @garyzamFF | Featured Writer
Mar 19, 2022
Trevor Lawrence

Trevor Lawrence was selected number one overall in the 2021 draft. Will his potential be tapped in 2022?

Last month I wrote about some burning questions in the NFL as we began the offseason. This time let’s jump into first-round burning questions for each team going into the rookie draft next month. This will be a two-part series starting with the AFC. Ladies and gentlemen, our flight is ready for departure. Flight attendants prepare doors for departure and cross-check. The captain has turned on the seat belt sign, so buckle up and get ready for a quick flight around the AFC first round. In-flight snacks and drinks will not be provided.

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AFC South

Jacksonville Jaguars

Our flight will begin with cloudy but manageable skies on our stop in Jacksonville. They “earned” the number one overall selection with a combination of bad coaching and bad play. Gone is coach Urban Myer and in with Super Bowl-winning new coach Doug Pederson. The Jaguars have some cautionary optimism their fortunes are ready to turn around.

The organization already has its franchise quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. He was selected number one overall in the 2021 draft. However, his potential remains untapped after Meyer failed to harness the skills and upside we saw going into last year’s draft.

The Jaguars finished last season as a bottom-tier defense and could benefit from drafting one of the top edge rush prospects in Aidan Hutchinson. Reinforcing the offensive line is also another avenue to pursue. Intriguing options at offensive tackle are Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu, or Charles Cross.

Houston Texans

As our flight leaves Jacksonville, we head into Houston. The turbulence around the Texans is at an all-time high after some bad trades by former coach Bill O’Brien and overall organization disfunction, giving the Texans the number three selection.

They are a bit of a wild card because they can use help on both sides of the ball. Therefore, the best course of action is to get the top player on your draft board. Although games can be won and lost in the trenches, getting a top-notch offensive tackle can help your team for years to come.

Tennessee Titans

The skies around Nashville are clear and the flight is smooth sailing. The Titans are armed with the 26th pick after winning the AFC South and earning the number one seed in the AFC, eventually losing 19-16 to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship.

The Titans have impending free agent Ben Jones potentially leaving. Will they replace him with Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum? If he drops to them, he is an ideal fit in the interior line. Another interesting burning question is will they bookend A.J. Brown with a stud wide receiver like Treylon Burks from Arkansas? Time will tell but it’s an intriguing situation.

Indianapolis Colts

The first-round pick radar is showing no activity as we approach Indianapolis. This is due to the Colts trading that pick to the Eagles for Carson Wentz. The number 16 overall selection now belongs to Philadelphia. After recently trading Wentz to the Washington Commanders, the Colts still haven’t found what they’re looking for at Q.B. The search for a new quarterback continues.

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals

The skies over Cincinnati are bright and clear after appearing in Super Bowl LVI. The Bengals find themselves with the number 31 selection after losing to the Rams 23-20. The good news is they exceeded expectations and played in the “big game.” The bad news is the offensive line is still ranked as one of the worst in the league.

They ended up attracting OG Alex Cappa and OL Ted Karras in free agency, but it would still make sense to attack that position in the first round of the draft. The draft board gets fluid at the end of the first round, but a couple of prospects in Zion Johnson, G, Boston College, and Kenyon Green, IOL, Texas A&M fit the bill as protectors of Joe Burrow.

Cleveland Browns

It’s grey and gloomy as we approach Cleveland. They were able to attract WR Amari Cooper in free agency but cut slot man Jarvis Landry. They’ve also made a major move to add Deshaun Watson, shipping off their first-round pick.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Approaching Pittsburgh, the optimism is beaming even after losing long-time quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to retirement. The team finished 9-7-1, and the feeling is they are only a Q.B. away from contention.

The burning question is, by adding Mitch Trubisky in free agency, are they going to attack the position with the number 20 pick in the first round? Will they take a stab at local boy Kenny Pickett who played his college ball at Pitt?

Baltimore Ravens

After a disappointing 8-9 finish last season, Baltimore has some grey skies, including a six-game losing skid to finish out the year. They ended up with the 14 overall pick after being a playoff team in 2020. The consolation of the grey clouds of 2021 is the silver lining. They were 11-5 last season after the injury bug took a big bite out of their running back room. Getting J.K. Dobbins back from injury and the rebound of Lamar Jackson will set this team up for a turnaround and make a run back to the playoffs.

Offensive tackle Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa is a player who looks like a perfect fit at pick 14. His gritty, powerful blocking style would fit the Ravens’ run-first offensive philosophy. If they decide to go defensive, keep an eye out for cornerback Trent McDuffie from Washington. He displayed impressive speed at the Combine with his 4.44 40-yard drill.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

The Bills were on the cusp of advancing in the playoffs until losing a heartbreaker to the Chiefs in the Divisional game. The team put up an 11-6 record and scored the most points in the AFC. The offense already has what it takes.

Since they will be picking at 25 in the first round, looking to add to the defense would be a wise strategy. Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson, Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington, and Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida are all intriguing prospects at cornerback.

New York Jets

The Jets. What can we say about the Jets? For starters, they finished last in the AFC East with a 4-13 record and ended up with the fourth overall selection. They also have the 10th pick after the Jamal Adams trade with Seattle. Two premium picks to continue the rebuild.

Depending on how the draft plays out, they have a handful of fantastic prospects available at four. Notable players who could be available are safety Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame, Aidan Hutchinson EDGE from Michigan, or Evan Neal, OT, Alabama.

That’s just the number four pick. At 10, some potential game-changers will be available. Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati, and Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon are a couple I have my eyes on. Regardless, they walk away from this draft with a couple of day one starters.

New England Patriots

The Patriots finished second in the AFC East with an impressive 10-7 record under the guidance of rookie QB Mac Jones. They are on the clock this season with the number 21 selection. With Bill Belichick calling the shots it’s tough to predict the direction the Patriots will take in the draft.

Cornerback Kaiir Elam from Florida appears to be a good fit, or maybe draft offense and go with field-stretching Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama. Drafting Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah, could also provide immediate production on defense.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are drafting at number 29 overall due to a trade with the 49ers for Trey Lance last off-season. They finished 9-8, and the team is still evaluating Tua Tagovailoa as their franchise quarterback. Getting him offensive help could go a long way in determining if he is “their guy.”

Some good-looking prospects who should be available at pick 29 are Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa, Drake London, WR, USC, or Jahan Dotson, WR from Penn State. It will be interesting to see if the Dolphins decide to draft a W.R. to pair with Jaylen Waddle or a gritty offensive lineman to protect Tagovailoa and open holes in the run game.

 AFC West

Denver Broncos

As we fly over the Mile High City, the skies are clear, with no clouds in sight. But, unfortunately, we won’t be landing in Denver because the Broncos traded away their ninth overall selection in a package to acquire Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson.

All the talk was the Broncos were a quarterback away from being a contender. So, GM George Patton broke the bank and brought in Wilson to take the helm of the team and propel the Broncos into the discussion of the AFC West. It took giving up quarterback Drew Lock, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, tight end Noah Fant, two first-round picks, 2022 second-round pick, 2023 second-round pick, and a fifth-round pick to get him. The team has their man.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are perennial contenders due to their explosive offense led by Patrick Mahomes and friends. They have only had a first-round pick in one of the last four drafts, so picking number 30 will be a nice boost for the team. They have the luxury to draft for value so they can jump on whoever drops to them on either side of the ball.

It wasn’t all that long ago their offensive line cost them a Super Bowl because they couldn’t keep Mahomes from being under pressure or sacked, so the offensive line could be an option. After the AFC West appears to have set themselves apart from the rest of the league, an excellent edge pass rusher would also be a good fit.

Los Angeles Chargers

Our next destination is Los Angeles to visit “the other L.A. team.” The Chargers are the little brother to Super Bowl champion L.A. Rams. The thing is, they are still a good team. They finished 9-8 last season and have an exciting offense that can put up points.

The issue lies on the defensive side of the ball. The Chargers need to make the defensive line a priority in this draft. They were one of the worst in the NFL against the run last season. They need to go out and get help for Joey Bosa. Jordan Davis, DT, from Georgia looks like a good fit to bolster that defense.

 Las Vegas Raiders

There always seems to be a little turbulence flying into Vegas, and the Raiders are no different. They lost two first-round players (Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette) last season due to off-the-field incidents, but the team still finished 10-7. Enter offensive guru Josh McDaniels from the Patriots, and there is optimism the former offensive coordinator will bring some of that Patriots magic to the desert.

They could benefit from a rugged linebacker like Devin Lloyd from Utah to help shore up the defense at pick 22 against an improved AFC West. It would also be an option to replace Henry Ruggs with a field stretcher like Jameson Williams out of Alabama. Regardless, they are on the bottom looking up at the rest of the division this season.

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Gary Zamarripa is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Gary, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @garyzamFF.

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