The Detroit Lions have finally finished off the 2022 NFL draft, and as a result, it’s time to think about grading what the team was able to do as a whole.
In a busy weekend, there was plenty of picks to take in and moves to ponder, but when the dust settled, it sure seemed as if the Lions were one of the biggest winners all weekend long thanks to their approach.
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What do the draft grades look like for this year? Here’s a look at grading every pick as well as the team’s entire class.
Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson: Round 1, Pick 2
Scooping up a possible consensus top pick in the draft with the second-overall selection in the draft is never a loss. The Lions needed to sprint this pick up and that’s what they did. Hutchinson is a culture fit for the team and what they are building for the future. He also helps a very needy defense, and as a local kid, it represent one of the best stories in the NFL from this draft. There’s not a whole lot to hate here. It was the perfect move for the Lions.
Alabama WR Jameson Williams: Round 1, Pick 12
Detroit made a blockbuster trade to move up to 12 and nab Williams. If there’s any concern here at all, it’s about the ACL injury, but Williams himself seems to think that he is going to be ready for training camp. An electric talent, it’s possible that Williams is the best wideout in the entire class when healthy. Whether he plays in five games, more or less, Williams will be one to watch closest in 2023. This will prove to be an elite pick in time.
Kentucky DL Josh Paschal: Round 2, Pick 46
Folks didn’t understand picking another defensive lineman, but rushing the quarterback and stressing an offensive line is at a premium in the NFL, and Detroit struggled at that with just 30 sacks in 2021. Paschal will help them improve that total in a big way, and he is perhaps the top character player in this class and a bedrock for Detroit’s new locker room. A great pick.
Illinois S Kerby Joseph: Round 3, Pick 97
The Lions wait until round three to nab their safety, but they get an explosive athlete in Joseph who can find the football, make big hits and always seems to make plays. He is an athlete capable of freakish leaps and jumps. If there’s a concern here, it’s Joseph’s limited experience at safety, but Detroit is banking on Aaron Glenn and Aubrey Pleasant being able to teach him the ropes. That’s probably a good bet, since Joseph has the kind of talent and intangibles you simply can’t teach. Draft him now, teach him later and develop him seems to be the theory. It may be spot on.
Virginia Tech TE James Mitchell: Round 5, Pick 177
A sneaky big need for Detroit in this draft was at tight end, and after a long day three wait, the Lions did about as well as they could have hoped with the pick. Mitchell, like Williams, is coming off an ACL injury, but he had almost a four month head start, so he should be good to go. Mitchell can catch and make plays, but also get tough in the trenches. He could end up being one of the better tight end dins in this class.
Oklahoma State LB Malcolm Rodriguez: Round 6, Pick 188
Size is Rodriguez’s biggest issue, but when the tape is turned on, it becomes obvious quick that the speedy linebacker plays much bigger than his size. A hard hitter that flies around and is always near the ball, Rodriguez will have a great chance to make a mark for the Lions since he is a sudden change master and Detroit needs one badly. He’ll be a special teams demon as well. This pick could look like a major theft in a few years time if Rodriguez can continue to play huge.
Jackson State LB James Houston: Round 7, Pick 217
Houston adds some major punch to Detroit’s defensive line given 16.5 sacks in college. He started in the SEC but honed his skills in a big way under the coaching of Deion Sanders at Jackson State. Another likely special teams demon, there is no risk to adding a dynamic defender to the mix. Houston seems to have a high ceiling and was a late riser in the prospect. The Lions did their homework to snag him here.
Arizona State CB Chase Lucas: Round 7, Pick 237
With their final pick, the Lions did about as well as could be expected nabbing a gritty cornerback with superb ball skills like Lucas. He’s seen tons of college football and will come into Detroit with a chance to compete for a role in the backfield. Lucas does everything well and is very polished for a prospect, and could be a player that has a good chance to stick it out on the roster given his ability to do anything for the defense.
Lions’ 2022 NFL Draft Overall Grade
Make no mistake about it, this is a good class for the Lions. The players are all super athletic, fill needs and are of an excellent character. Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell seem to have a type, and they rarely deviate on their board. Credit to them for that, and all of these players should be filling an immediate need for depth on the roster in terms of positional and special teams. Many could start or play key roles as rookies outside the top names. All told, a second solid class to piggyback on a great 2021 draft.
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