After being projected as first-round picks in the NFL Draft, quarterback Malik Willis and linebacker Nakobe Dean finally heard their names called in the 80s.

Willis, 22, came out of nowhere in 2021, throwing for 2857 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and was the most impressive athlete in this year's quarterback class, rushing for 878 yards and 13 touchdowns.

During the pre-draft process, Willis was discussed as potentially the second overall pick, but did not hear his name called until the 22nd pick of the third round, when the Tennessee Titans traded up and selected him at 86. 

He went three picks later than Dean, who was the leader of arguably the greatest defense in college football history in the Georgia Bulldogs' National Championship team.

In the conversation for first linebacker to be selected, information emerged during the second round that Dean's medicals were not as clean as he would have hoped after suffering a pectoral injury in the pre-draft process.

The medical red flags scared teams off until the Philadelphia Eagles selected him at 83.

The Atlanta Falcons selected quarterback Desmond Ridder with pick 74 of the NFL Draft.

It was the first time since 2000 that only one quarterback was picked in the first two rounds – Kenny Pickett to the Pittsburgh Steelers at pick 20 – with Ridder's selection coming 10 picks into the third round.

In his senior season, Ridder had 3334 yards with 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 14 games, leading the Cincinnati Bearcats to an undefeated 13-0 record before losing in the playoff semi-final to powerhouse Alabama.

It was the first time a school outside of the 'Power Five' conferences had made the College Football Playoff since its inception in the 2014-15 season.

For the Falcons, there is a glaring need at quarterback after shipping Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts, and Ridder will get a chance to compete with Marcus Mariota for the role of week one starter.

The Kansas City Chiefs selected wide receiver Skyy Moore with the 54th pick in the NFL Draft.

Moore, 21, has shot up draft boards since the beginning of the pre-draft process after running a slick 4.41 40-yard dash, and had seven games in 2021 with at least eight catches and 100 yards.

The Western Michigan receiver's best game came against Northern Illinois, with 12 catches for 206 yards and four touchdowns. From 12 games, he finished the season with 1292 yards and 10 touchdowns from 95 receptions.

Kansas City are in desperate need of wide receiver help after trading superstar Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins, and the hope will be that Moore can fill the role of a field-stretcher for Patrick Mahomes.

Moore was the 13th wide receiver selected in the first 54 picks, setting an NFL Draft record.

The Green Bay Packers traded up to the 34th pick – the second selection of Friday's second round – to select wide receiver Christian Watson.

Watson, 22, measures in at 6'4 and clocked an eye-opening 4.36 40-yard dash, while flashing a 38-inch vertical leap, dispelling concerns about the low level of competition he faced playing at North Dakota State.

With the Bison, Watson scored a touchdown in seven of the first nine games of the season on the way to an FCS Championship.

He comes from the same school as quarterback Carson Wentz, who was selected number two overall in the 2016 draft.

At pick 34, Watson becomes the highest-drafted receiver by the Packers since Javon Walker was taken with the 20th selection of the 2002 NFL Draft.

With arguably the best receiver in the entire league, Davante Adams, leaving the Packers this offseason to join the Las Vegas Raiders, Watson is projected to fill a significant role as one of Aaron Rodgers' primary options.

Treylon Burks is not looking to draw comparisons with A.J. Brown but took the Tennessee Titans' trade with the Philadelphia Eagles as a show of faith.

Burks is in line to be the Titans' leading wide receiver in 2022 after Brown, previously the top man, was moved to the Eagles on the first night of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Tennessee used the pick they received in return to select Burks at number 18, for now a far cheaper option than Brown, who was immediately handed a lucrative contract in Philadelphia.

The former Arkansas wideout has big potential, having been likened to wantaway San Francisco 49ers 'wide back' Deebo Samuel with his varied skillset and threat in the open field, averaging 9.3 yards after the catch in 2021 and also contributing 38 carries across three seasons with the Razorbacks.

Derrick Henry is in charge of the run game in Tennessee, though, and the pressure will be on Burks to replace Brown's production. The former second-round pick passed 1,000 receiving yards in two of his three seasons with the Titans – a mark Burks only topped in his final college season.

But the new man said on Friday: "I'm myself, I'm Treylon Burks. Usually I don't compare myself to anyone because I'm myself.

"There's no other person like me and I handle my business the right way, and that's what I'm going to do."

Rather than be daunted by the responsibility of replacing Brown, who was targeted on 33.5 per cent of his routes last season (second-most among wide receivers with 100 or more routes), Burks was emboldened.

"I'm just thankful for the opportunity that they believed in me to make that trade and believe in me to go out there and represent the organisation like it's supposed to be represented," he said. "That's what I'm going to do."

When Burks was linked to the Titans prior to Thursday, it was imagined he would line up alongside Brown, and he added: "That was one of my dreams, to also play with Brown. But I'm going to do what I do best and just go out there and play football."

New Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marquise Brown has confirmed he requested his trade away from the Baltimore Ravens.

And the former Oklahoma pass catcher, who is to be reunited with Kyler Murray, says he told Lamar Jackson the Ravens' run-first offensive system "wasn't for me" more than a year ago.

In one of two significant receiver trades on the first day of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Cardinals parted with the 23rd overall pick in return for Brown and a third-round selection.

Having already secured perhaps the best player in the draft in ultra-versatile safety Kyle Hamilton, the Ravens used their additional first-round pick to bolster their offensive line in front of quarterback Jackson with center Tyler Linderbaum.

Jackson's Twitter activity suggested he was unhappy with the Ravens' business, frustrated by the loss of the wide receiver he has looked to more than any other in his NFL career to date (256 targets, 164 receptions, 20 touchdowns).

The former NFL MVP posted a series of messages, including sharing a post from Brown in which he said to his former QB: "Wish I coulda played with my brotha forever but ima see you at the top."

However, speaking to media on Friday, Brown revealed he was the driving force behind the trade, and his desire to move on could have come as no surprise to Jackson.

"It was just [about] my happiness," he said. "I talked to Lamar about it after my second year, then after my third year leading up to the end of the season.

"He wasn't playing, but I let him know again: I can't do it.

"It's not really on Lamar; I love Lamar. It's just the system wasn't for me, personally. I love all my team-mates, I love the guys, but it was just something I had to think about for myself.

"The Ravens and I both handled it the right way. I didn't go out and make anything public; I just kept it in-house, kept working, and it all worked out."

In the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Jackson's first two as a full-time starter, the Ravens ran on 56.0 per cent and 55.9 per cent of their plays respectively, leading the league in this regard.

Since entering the NFL in 2018, Jackson has recorded 3,673 rushing yards – by far the most among QBs and the seventh-most of all players.

Murray (1,786 rushing yards just since 2019) is third among QBs over that period, but Brown already knows he can effectively link up with the Cardinals star.

In 2018, at Oklahoma, Murray's 4,361 passing yards and 42 passing TDs led the Big 12, with Brown his top receiver with 1,318 receiving yards and 10 receiving TDs.

Murray wrote on Twitter following Brown's trade: "Let's run it back! Hollywood to the desert... Y'all welcome my boy!"

Aaron Rodgers has revealed he was caught out by Davante Adams' departure from the Green Bay Packers, but he was not surprised by the team's activity on the first night of the NFL Draft.

Rodgers' Packers future was the subject of speculation for two straight years before he committed to his only professional team this offseason.

However, two days after his new $150million deal was made official, Rodgers saw leading wide receiver Adams traded to the Las Vegas Raiders, where he landed his own big contract.

Rodgers threw 68 touchdown passes to Adams from 615 receptions on 922 targets – each his most to any team-mate in his Packers career.

Indeed, since Rodgers came into the NFL in 2005, there have been only four more prolific quarterback-receiver duos in terms of TDs – Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski (90), Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates (89), Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown (74), Drew Brees and Marques Colston (72) – despite Adams only himself entering the league in 2014.

And in an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show following the first round of the draft, Rodgers acknowledged he had anticipated continuing this link-up into 2022.

"It was a little surprising with Davante," he said. "Obviously, when I made my decision, I was still thinking he was going to come back.

"I was very honest with him about my plans and my future and where I saw my career going, as far as how many years I want to play.

"But I felt like he was going to be back. It didn't obviously turn out that way, but I have so much love for 'Te and appreciate the time we spent together and definitely wish him the best in Derek [Carr] in Vegas. But that's a big hole to fill."

It had been expected the Packers, armed with two first-round picks following the Adams trade, would draft at least one receiver to plug that hole on Thursday.

Instead, Green Bay took linebacker Quay Walker and defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt.

However, Rodgers, who was famously infuriated in previous seasons by the team's draft-day decisions, including selecting his understudy Jordan Love in round one in 2020, remained relaxed.

"I believe it was six receivers they had first-round grades on," he said, "and when they were gone, I think it was pretty obvious they wanted to shore up those two spots [on defense]."

The alternative option for the Packers would have been a big trade of their own for a ready-made star, with A.J. Brown and Marquise Brown moved on Thursday while Deebo Samuel remains on the San Francisco 49ers.

"I think we've been in the mix with some of these guys," Rodgers said. "That's what it seems like.

"Now, there's not a lot of teams that probably want to trade receivers to Green Bay. I think we're probably at the back of the line for a lot of these teams as far as our picks are usually late and nobody wants to trade in the [NFC]... a guy like Deebo, probably.

"But at the same time, I think if you're not going to pay Davante — obviously we traded him, he wanted to move on — but going out and paying another guy... I don't know if that makes a ton of sense.

"Now, there are some veteran guys out there that I think could be possibilities, and also we have two picks in the second round tomorrow, and I'm sure there are some guys on the board that they probably like.

"Yeah, I feel like we've been in the mix, but does San Fran want to trade Deebo Samuel to us? Probably not."

Perhaps the biggest storyline entering the 2022 NFL Draft did not concern a prospect, but one of the premier wide receivers in the NFL. Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers was not traded during Thursday's first round but, if there were any doubts that wideout is now a premium position, they were extinguished emphatically in Las Vegas.

Six wide receivers came off the board in the first 18 picks amid a flurry of trades, including two involving established receivers who at least have one 1,000-yard season in their first three years in the NFL.

There was mild surprise when the Atlanta Falcons made USC's Drake London the first receiver picked with the eighth overall selection, but significantly more eyebrow-raising moves were to follow.

The New Orleans Saints jumped from 16 to 11 to pick Ohio State's Chris Olave one pick after his former college team-mate Garrett Wilson was taken by the Jets with a 10th pick that was reportedly offered to the Niners as part of a package for Samuel.

It was the Detroit Lions who made the most ambitious receiver trade of the night, jumping 20 spots up the board from 32 to 12 in a deal with the Minnesota Vikings to make Jameson Williams their second selection of the first round despite doubts over when he will be ready to play after tearing his ACL in the final game of his college career.

Williams' appeal is obvious, the former Alabama star a dynamic speedster who registered a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted, on 74.6 per cent of his targets in 2021.

He led all receivers in burn yards per target, his average of 19.34 nearly five full yards better than that of his nearest challenger, Cincinnati's Alec Pierce (14.74), and was also the cream of the crop in burn yards per route (4.9).

But it is the scale of the move up the board that is illustrative of just how determined NFL teams have become to add big-play receivers to their offensive arsenal, and the message was further hammered home as, after the Washington Commanders used the 16th pick on another wideout in Jahan Dotson, the Philadelphia Eagles made the defining move of the first round with their trade with the Tennessee Titans, sending the 18th pick and a third-rounder to acquire A.J. Brown.

Brown, a Pro Bowler in 2020 before injuries disrupted his 2021 campaign, was promptly reported as having received a four-year extension with Philadelphia worth up to $100million, with $47m guaranteed, the $25million average annual value of that deal reportedly what Samuel was looking to be paid before he requested a trade from San Francisco.

The choice for teams wanting to keep a playmaking receiver on the roster seems to be clear. Pay over $20m a year for one or spend a premium pick on a rookie. The Titans, in trading Brown and then selecting a rookie with a comparable playing style in Treylon Burks out of Arkansas, elected to do the latter.

"We got to a spot where it was going to be hard to get a deal done," Titans general manager Jon Robinson said of Brown after the first round.

The Ravens ran into difficulty with his namesake Marquise Brown, who was said to have requested a trade after the season and was also dealt on draft night to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for the 23rd overall pick.

While the Titans caved in and parted with Brown, the Niners remained steadfast in refusing to trade Samuel, even with a top-10 pick seemingly on the table, their resoluteness in itself reflecting the massive value of a player who was the heart and soul of the San Francisco offense as the 49ers made the NFC Championship Game last season.

Also running the ball out of the backfield consistently in a dual role, Samuel labelling himself a 'wide back', the 2019 second-round pick is a unique case. Yet the message that was definitively reiterated through the Niners refusal to part ways with him and the hive of activity surrounding receivers in the first round is clear, receivers who can make field-flipping momentum-changing plays are firmly among the most valued assets in the NFL.

Of the top 10 receivers with the most receptions of 20 yards or more in 2021, only two – Justin Jefferson and Tyler Lockett – did not feature on playoff teams. Four – Cooper Kupp (30), Samuel (23), Ja'Marr Chase (22) and Tee Higgins (17) – played on Conference Championship Sunday, as did the 11th-placed wideout in the category, Samuel's Niners team-mate Brandon Aiyuk (16).

Quarterback is king in the NFL, and tackle, edge rusher and offensive tackle have long since been viewed as next on the hierarchy as 'premium positions'. The 2021 season encapsulated the value of explosive wideouts and, with that campaign followed by an offseason in which Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill were both traded and received mega-deals and Thursday's first-round chaos brought on by the high demand for receivers, there can be little room for argument the position now carries the same importance as those other non-quarterback spots that have traditionally had the highest billing.

Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson called the decision to trade star receiver A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles a "tough one".

Brown, 24, is one of the best young wide receivers in the NFL, and plays at a premier position, but Robinson indicated the franchise was not willing to pay him the contract he desired.

Despite his immense talent, Brown had the least productive season of his career in 2021 as he was restricted to 13 games, while the Titans opted to buck the league trend of increasing pass attempts, instead running the ball at a high rate.

Tennessee's number one target finished the season with 869 yards and five touchdowns from 63 catches – a career-low in yards and touchdowns.

Speaking to Titans beat writer Jim Wyatt after the first round, Robinson said it was a tough decision, but that Brown's contract demands were too much.

"The decision we made on A.J. Brown was a tough one," he said. "We appreciate everything he did on the team and in the community.

"We got to a spot where it was going to be hard to get a deal done… the gap [in contract extension value] was too big."

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said it was painful to part ways with a player he cares deeply about.

"I love A.J. Brown personally," he said. "We went to the extreme to keep A.J. Brown here. 

"I was involved in the entire process. It was a difficult one to get through, and the gap was big."

Speaking about Treylon Burks, whom they acquired with the 18th overall pick received in exchange for Brown, Vrabel said: "We liked Treylon Burks even when A.J. was on our roster."

Marquise Brown is back with Kyler Murray after he was traded from the Baltimore Ravens to the Arizona Cardinals.

A first-round pick of the Ravens in 2019, Brown played with Murray during their college days at Oklahoma.

They will now look to re-establish their rapport after the Ravens sent Brown and a third-round pick (100th overall) to acquire Arizona's 23rd overall selection in the first round.

News of the trade came shortly after the Ravens used the 14th overall selection on safety Kyle Hamilton, regarded by some as the best player in the draft at any position.

Brown caught 91 passes for 1,008 yards in 2021, the first 1,000-yard season of his pro career.

His 21 receiving touchdowns since 2019 are the 11th-most among wide receivers during that span.

The ultra-versatile Hamilton, who can play as a deep safety, in the box and in the slot, registered eight interceptions between 2019 and 2021, the fifth-most among FBS safeties during that period.

Kenny Pickett will get to stay in Pittsburgh, after being selected by the Steelers with the 20th overall pick.

No quarterbacks came off the board in the first 19 picks as defensive players and wide receivers dominated the headlines.

And, given the freedom to choose from what most considered to be an uninspiring litter at quarterback, the Steelers went with a player who already called Heinz Field home.

Pickett excelled in his final year playing for the University of Pittsburgh, leading the Panthers to an 11-3 record and an ACC title.

He completed 67.2 per cent of his passes for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

Arguably the most pro-ready quarterback in the class, Pickett delivered an accurate well-thrown ball on 82.70 percent of his passes last season, the highest ratio of anyone in the draft, according to Stats Perform data. His pickable pass rate of 2.11 percent was also best in class.

Pickett excels at throwing with timing and anticipation, frequently hitting his receivers in stride to maximise their potential to create yards after the catch.

He can make throws with pressure in his face and moves well in the pocket to escape pressure while also succeeding at breaking structure and creating with his legs.

A lack of elite arm strength to make deep throws outside the numbers is the concern with Pickett, but the Steelers were clearly not overly worried about that deficiency, catapulting him into a likely quarterback competition with Mitchell Trubisky in the first year of the post-Ben Roethlisberger era.

In the most significant trade from the first round of the NFL Draft, wide receiver A.J. Brown was traded from the Tennessee Titans to the Philadelphia Eagles for pick 18 and a third-rounder.

Brown, 24, is considered one of the best young receivers in the league, but is coming off his least productive season with 869 yards and five touchdowns from 63 catches, having battled injuries in 2021.

The Eagles previously traded up to pick 13, where they took defensive tackle Jordan Davis after four receivers were selected from the previous five picks.

Philadelphia were clearly determined not to end the night without a franchise-altering talent for quarterback Jalen Hurts to throw to, and parted ways with their second selection to make it happen.

After the trade, it was announced Brown had agreed to a four-year extension with Philadelphia worth up to $100million, with $47m guaranteed.

The Titans used pick 18 on Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks, who has received comparisons to both Brown and Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers.

The Detroit Lions did make a huge draft-day trade, but it was for wide receiver Jameson Williams rather than a quarterback.

Detroit, having picked Aidan Hutchinson second overall, traded the final pick in the first round (32nd overall) as well as selections 34 and 66 to move up to number 12 in a deal with the Minnesota Vikings, who also sent pick 46 to their NFC North rivals.

Many had thought the Lions might take a swing on Liberty's Malik Willis, the highest upside quarterback in an underwhelming class.

But they instead made the move for the premier deep receiving threat in the draft, showing faith in Williams to return quickly from the torn anterior cruciate ligament the Alabama star suffered in the National Championship Game in January.

A transfer from Ohio State, Williams' sole season with Alabama saw him rack up 79 catches for a team-high 1,572 yards, with his 15 touchdown catches tied for third in the FBS.

Nine of Williams' 15 touchdown catches were for 40 or more yards, while no player in the FBS produced more than his nine receptions of at least 50 yards.

According to Stats Perform data, Williams registered a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted, on 74.6 per cent of his targets in 2021.

He comfortably led all receivers in burn yards per target, his average of 19.34 nearly five full yards better than that of his nearest challenger, Cincinnati's Alec Pierce (14.74), and was also the cream of the crop in burn yards per route (4.9).

The Lions may not yet have their quarterback of the future but, after acquiring Williams, they have the receiver they hope will be the favourite target of that as yet unidentified signal-caller.

The New Orleans Saints traded up to 11 in order to select wide receiver Chris Olave.

To make it happen, the Saints traded picks 16, 98 and 120 to the Washington Commanders.

Olave, 21, was the third receiver off the board after USC's Drake London went at eight, and Olave's Ohio State teammate Garrett Wilson was selected by the New York Jets at 10.

The shifty route-runner clocked in with a lightning-quick 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and had two seasons with the Buckeyes where he had at least 12 touchdowns, with 13 touchdowns, 65 catches and 936 yards in 2021.

New Orleans will pick again at selection 19.

The Atlanta Falcons selected wide receiver Drake London with the eighth pick in the NFL Draft.

London, 20, was a two-sport athlete at the University of Southern California, initially playing basketball before committing full-time to football.

The 6'5 star broke out in a big way in 2021, recording 88 catches, 1084 yards and seven touchdowns in just eight games.

In six of his eight games, London had at least 130 yards, and caught at least nine passes in all but one fixture.

The Falcons are in big need of receiver help after former first-round pick and top option Calvin Ridley was suspended for betting on NFL games last season, when he was away from the team with an injury.

London was the first receiver selected on Thursday and while he was considered in contention for that honour, Ohio State's Garrett Wilson was the favourite, who ended up going 10th to the New York Jets.

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