The Bills entered the 2022 NFL Draft as the best team on paper -- and then got even better.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs thrived, the Bears befuddled and the Lions shined.
So, what else did I love and loathe from the NFL's Vegas venture? Here's my annual post-draft rundown, Schein Nine style.
WHAT I LOVED
1) J!-E!-T!-S! Own! The! Draft!
The Jets absolutely dominated this draft. I still cannot believe how brilliantly they navigated Round 1. Bravo, Joe Douglas!
First and foremost, I am obsessed with Sauce Gardner. The No. 4 overall pick is a rare specimen at cornerback, combining superb length (6-foot-3) with stellar speed (4.41-second 40-yard dash). Not to mention, he infuses the Jets with the kind of CB swagger that Jalen Ramsey brings to the table for the Rams. New York City is going to love this confident cover man. Meanwhile, I personally had Jameson Williams as the top wide receiver in this class, but I had no problem with the Jets taking Garrett Wilson at No. 10. Williams is coming off of ACL surgery, so he might not be active when the season kicks off. Wilson, on the other hand, is ready to rock right now. This is big for Zach Wilson, who'll be able to foster the Wilson-to-Wilson connection in the coming months and hit the ground running in September. I've banged on Douglas and the Jets some in the past for kicking the can down the road and not being simply about winning games. Taking Wilson over Williams is a NOW move.
I still cannot get over the genius of trading back into the first round to nab Jermaine Johnson II. I warned everyone about sleeping on the talented pass rusher last week. Apparently, the league hit the snooze bar. Johnson is a top-10 player in this class; getting him at No. 26 is highway robbery.
But wait, there's more! Douglas plucked the best back in the class (Breece Hall) at No. 36 overall. Then he grabbed the draft's best tight end (Jeremy Ruckert) at 101.
What an all-around coup. It's about winning. It's about helping Wilson. Simply sensational.
2) New era for the New York Football Giants
The Dave Gettleman era (error) is in the rearview mirror -- and it's quickly disappearing from sight, at least judging by Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll's initial first-round haul.
The Giants haven't had a legit dude on defense -- someone the opposition fears -- in years. Enter Kayvon Thibodeaux, who came off the board as the No. 5 overall pick on Thursday. All that talk about his personality being a negative? Hogwash. I interviewed him last week on my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein on Sports," and came away beyond impressed. That's one intelligent, interesting 21-year-old! Giants fans will love his attitude -- and most especially, his game-day domination. This cat's explosive off the edge. And Big Blue didn't just get a top-tier QB hunter in Round 1, but an elite QB protector, as well. Landing Thibodeaux and hulking OT Evan Neal? It was like a dream.
The G-Men haven't won a playoff game since Eli Manning last hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. Over the past five years, they're tied with the Jets for the worst record in the NFL (22-59). With that stuff in mind, it's not hyperbole to say Thursday was the best day for the franchise in the past decade. I am so happy for longtime Giants fans. Welcome to football in 2022.
3) Another draft, another Ravens clinic
Perhaps we should just change the name of the NFL draft to the Ravens Invitational, because nobody crushes this event -- year in and year out -- like Baltimore. Take a bow, Eric DeCosta -- you continue to do the great Ozzie Newsome proud.
I was obsessed with Kyle Hamilton throughout this entire process. With a versatile game and a 6-4 frame, he has game-changing, All-Pro potential. Freaking out about a 4.59 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine was shortsighted. The Ravens predictably kept their wits about them, happily scooping up the Notre Dame product at No. 14 overall. In a passing league, Baltimore continues to wisely put a premium on defensive backs.
Moments after the Hamilton pick, Baltimore sent WR Marquise Brown and a late third-rounder to Arizona in exchange for the No. 23 overall pick. After another trade netted the Ravens an extra fourth-rounder, they took Tyler Linderbaum at No. 25. The draft's best center has Baltimore stalwart written all over him.
And the hits kept coming on Day 2. You knew a smart team would draft and stash edge rusher David Ojabo, who looked like a top-15 talent before tearing his Achilles at Michigan's pro day. Enter Baltimore, whose defense is now run by Mike Macdonald, the coordinator who cultivated Ojabo's breakout season last year in Ann Arbor. Travis Jones, the dominant defensive tackle from UConn, was spectacular value in Round 3.
4) Steelers PICK winners
Say what you will about this quarterback class as a whole, but Kenny Pickett was a steal at No. 20 overall. The Steelers searched far and wide for Ben Roethlisberger's heir, but wisely came back to the signal-caller who played his college ball at Heinz Field. The Pitt product was always the perfect fit, and Kevin Colbert nailed it in his last draft as Steelers GM. As the most pro-ready passer in this class, Pickett's going to beat out Mitch Trubisky and start for Pittsburgh in Year 1.
Colbert has an extensive history of finding stud receivers beyond Round 1 -- SEE: Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, to name a few -- and I think he did it again on Friday. I know George Pickens reportedly has maturity issues, but he flashed so much potential when healthy at Georgia. I'll bet on Pittsburgh maximizing the immense talent in that 6-3 frame.
5) Fly like the Eagles!
I liked the Eagles draft the moment Howie Roseman plucked 6-6, 341-pound freak Jordan Davis at No. 13 overall. But to then flip the Nos. 18 and 101 picks for A.J. FREAKIN' Brown? Well, that was a masterstroke. Sheer perfection, instantly making everyone around QB Jalen Hurts -- as well as Hurts himself -- better. Brown and DeVonta Smith dicing up secondaries together? Can't. Wait.
Getting Nakobe Dean -- the alpha dog on Georgia's absurdly loaded defense -- in the third round was an absolute steal. Even if health issues force him to miss a large chunk of the 2022 season, it's well worth it. This is the kind of off-ball linebacker Philly has lacked for years.
WHAT I LOATHED
6) Strange times in New England
Bill Belichick is the greatest coach in the history of sports. And yet, sometimes I have no idea what he's thinking about in the draft. Is Nike the Dog making these picks?
Cole Strange? In Round 1?! Seems like everyone else in football -- Sean McVay and Les Snead included -- saw the guard as a middle-round option. And then, in the fourth round, Belichick took an Air Raid quarterback. What on Earth?
In the wake of this sloppy draft, the Patriots are my 13th-ranked team in the AFC.
7) Packers passing on receivers in Round 1
Four receiver prospects in this draft class stood out from the pack: Jameson Williams, Drake London, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. Seemingly everyone knew this, except for the Pack.
After London and Wilson came off the board in the top 10, the Saints traded up to get one of the fab four. So did the Lions. The Packers? Nope. Despite entering the draft with two first-round picks, they went yet another year without getting Aaron Rodgers a first-round receiver. Inexplicable. Yes, Green Bay traded up to select Christian Watson in Round 2. Do we really think the FCS wideout is going to be an immediate contributor, like the Packers need in this depleted receiving corps?
8) Jags passing on the draft's best player at Pick 1
With the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, the Jaguars took the No. 6 player on Daniel Jeremiah's big board. To quote Dodgeball, "It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for 'em."
Did you notice how quickly the Lions got their Aidan Hutchinson pick in after Travon Walker came off the board? That was Detroit not-so-subtly telling the Jaguars -- and the football-watching world -- that they screwed up. The Lions got the draft's best player at No. 2.
I feared this could happen last week before the draft. I warned against it for months. Jacksonville stepped up to the plate and massively whiffed like Rob Deer in his heyday.
9) The Malik Willis fall
I predict many NFL teams are going to regret this. Willis has the intelligence, leadership, insane arm strength and swift running ability to succeed in today's NFL. Seeing him slide all the way to Pick No. 86, midway through the third round -- color me stunned. And disappointed. I love this kid. And felt horrible for him.
On the plus side: He landed in a great spot with the Titans, rightfully conjuring up images of the late, great Steve McNair. Willis needs time to marinate at the NFL level -- that's never been up for debate. Ryan Tannehill is solid, not superb. After Tennessee misses the playoffs this coming season, Tannehill's seat is going to be ultra-warm, and the Titans will have the steal of the draft ready to take over at quarterback in 2023 or '24.