The days leading up to the 2022 NFL draft offered little consensus and major unpredictability. Forecasting the top 10 to 15 picks was a nearly impossible task. Teams were unsure of intentions and projections. General managers were calling to move up or down with little hint as to why. And the variance from a top-three pick to a middle or late first-rounder was not as steep as with most drafts, due to a collection of very good but not necessarily elite players.
Subterfuge is part of the drafting game, as much as selections and Roger Goodell hugs, but this year seemed to lift the shock value. For instance, even the teams unsold on Liberty quarterback Malik Willis didn't expect him to slide to the third round. Most forecast two quarterbacks taken on Day 1 -- until just one, Kenny Pickett, went in the first 73 picks. The draft also featured nine trades on Day 1 and 35 total deals made from Thursday through Saturday. High-profile wide receivers A.J. Brown and Marquise Brown are in new jerseys as a result. The pace and the results were frantic. The only thing missing was a blockbuster deal involving Baker Mayfield, who still occupies a roster spot in Cleveland.
What was predictable: Nothing reveals a team's big-picture plans quite like the draft, and this year was no different. Instead of reacting to the week's results on short notice, we let the draft breathe a bit over a few days. Then we made calls to bring you post-draft nuggets on all 32 teams, including intel from on-the-clock decisions, background on key picks, Day 1 strategy, stats and trends, sleepers and pick reactions from league execs and scouts.
The Cowboys were dedicated to bolstering coordinator Dan Quinn's defense up front. Though offensive line was a major need, which Dallas filled in the first round with tackle Tyler Smith, the Cowboys loved the momentum built by Quinn's unit in 2021, and they want to see that through in a major way.
Quinn did a ton of homework on fast, quick players with pass-rush production. That led the Cowboys to second-round pick Sam Williams (No. 56), who will work his way into the D-line rotation. Dallas now feels it has at least six capable edge rushers. At one point, it had some interest in veteran Jason Pierre-Paul, but the draft might have changed those plans.