Former NFL GM Picks Lions’ Draft Class to Make Biggest 2022 Impact

Jameson Williams

Getty Jameson Williams on stage after being picked by the Lions in the 2022 NFL draft.

The Detroit Lions just finished off what most experts believe to be a great NFL draft class, and as the offseason shifts, the biggest question becomes what folks can expect from some of those players.

It can be hard to project and predict what kind of impact a rookie class can make right off the bat in a season, but it seems like a virtual lock to see multiple youngsters making a difference from the 2022 class. The Lions’ 2021 class saw plenty of run, and as the team goes younger in a rebuild, this is likely to be the case once again.

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While others may have different answers as it relates to what class could play a huge role, ESPN analyst and former NFL general manager Mike Tannenbaum is not going to be fooled. Tannenbaum has seen quality draft classes before, and he sees one in Detroit that is primed for a big role right away.

In a piece breaking down the 2022 NFL draft, contributors across the ESPN network made their selections as to what draft class will make the biggest impact right off the bat in 2022. Tannenbaum’s choice was the Lions, as he liked what

“I think the Lions drafted two of the three best players in the 2022 draft class — Aidan Hutchinson and Jameson Williams — and they both have All-Pro potential,” Tannenbaum wrote in the piece.

Tannenbaum admitted he appreciated Detroit’s bold move up the board to nab Williams, a player he thinks is the best wideout of the 2022 bunch if he is healthy. With Hutchinson and Williams, it’s clear he is a believer in the Lions getting the best players on offense and defense for their future in this class.

If that plays out, it’s likely Tannenbaum could be proven correct in short order about the Lions.

Rating Lions Rookies Likely to Play Fast Role

For the Lions, the answer to what rookies will play a quick role likely starts in the first-round. Hutchinson figures to have the biggest opportunity of anyone to play a big role for the team given the position he plays and what he can do on the field for the Detroit defensive line. He’s pro-ready and trending to being one of the top young pass rushers in the league already. Second-round pick Josh Paschal also could play a quick role on defense given his versatility up front. While Kerby Joseph is a project at safety, his ball skills and athleticism could help him to force his way on the field. Sixth-round linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez is likely to be a special-teams stud and could even force his way into the mix at linebacker. Fellow linebacker James Houston and cornerback Chase Lucas are long-shots given their sixth and seventh round status, but if either play a big role, it will be a sure sign this class is heading for greatness.

A pair of injured players in wideout Jameson Williams and tight end James Mitchell might be the players who take a bit more time to get eased into the mix. Each are coming back from ACL injuries, and while Mitchell might be the most ready player, the Lions might also choose to hold him back a tiny bit. Each will likely produce, but on a smaller scale early on than down the line.

Add it up and it feels as if the Lions are ready to line up with one of their deepest drafts in years. That bodes well for their present and future.

Recapping Detroit’s Stellar 2022 Draft

The Lions draft class has been generating almost universal praise since it finished, so Tannenbaum is hardly alone in his expectations. In round one, Detroit started strong with Hutchinson from Michigan, who will be a slam-dunk fit for the defense as well as a hit locally given he grew up in town. After that, the Lions traded up for wideout Jameson Williams, who should add a dynamic element to their offense. Day two brought the team some more defensive help with gritty and classy Josh Paschal, who may also have a future in acting. Super athletic safety Kirby Joseph closed out the day, and should contend for a role quickly in the Motor City on a needy defense. During day three, the Lions added Mitchell, a tight end from Virginia Tech, Rodriguez, an Oklahoma State linebacker and Houston, a Jackson State linebacker. Lucas, a cornerback from Arizona State, was the team’s final selection. Already, Rodriguez is seen as a potential steal.

All-told, it was a solid draft for the Lions that filled plenty of needs with high-character and quality players. To that end, it would not be a surprise to see Detroit getting a lot out of their class early on in 2022.

Leave it to a former general manager to see the kind of talent the Lions have added and appreciate it.

READ NEXT: Top Lions Roster Battles to Watch After 2022 Draft

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