The 2022 NFL draft process is pushing to its thrilling finish in a few more weeks, and with that comes a look at the usual suspects high on boards that the team could covet.
Perhaps more important and interesting is the players who might not be high on radars right now, but could end up making a huge difference for the Detroit Lions when it comes time to fill out their rosters with some depth that could play a winning role in the future.
The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!
Here’s a look at what players are the biggest possible unheralded draft fits for the Lions coming up in 2022, all of whom could become a factor in Detroit.
Chad Muma, Linebacker, Wyoming
If there’s a glaring hole on the Lions, it’s at the linebacker spot. The team not only needs playmakers, but they need steady players as well. Muma showed up with a solid combine running a 4.6 40 yard-dash and also looking like a solid mover along with a strong player given 27 bench press reps. He’s going to be picked in the top half of the draft now, and the Lions need to look at him as a potential Chris Spielman type anchor for the future of their defense after watching him closely on the field.
Muma is the kind of player that just feels like a Detroit fixture already given how hard he works and how gritty he is. If the Lions managed to land him, they would likely not be disappointed. The team needs a defensive identity and heartbeat and Muma could provide it.
Connor Heyward, TE/HB, Michigan State
The Lions need a bit of tight end depth for their roster, and Heyward could be a perfect fit for them at the position. Offensively, he can do a little bit of everything, from running the ball to blocking to even leaking out and making plays in the passing game. Heyward, the son of Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, has good NFL bloodlines too and would fit the mold of what the Lions are trying to build. Here’s a look at one of his best plays of the season:
Heyward could be a sneaky good addition to the Lions, and could help improve the team’s depth at tight end as well as offer a potential dual role for the offense. He seems to fit what Campbell and the staff is about already, which could put him firmly on the team’s radar for the draft.
JoJo Domann, LB, Nebraska
The Lions have struggled to see their linebackers in coverage for a while, and the team could need a major boost in depth at the position this offseason. As a result, they could love to watch Domann this week, given he will be one of the best covering players the Lions will see. While at Nebraska, Domann put up 206 tackles, 26.5 tackles for-loss, 3 interceptions, 5.5 sacks and 15 passes defended along with 9 forced fumbles.
Domann just feels like an animal in waiting for the Lions to snatch up that could help round out their linebacker room and give Derrick Barnes an excellent counterpart. Bet on the Lions being very impressed with what he could bring to their defense, and he could be a fit in the later rounds.
Leon O’Neal Jr., Safety, Texas A&M
The Lions have lacked some nasty for quite a while on defense, and O’Neal is perhaps the one player best suited to help in that revival in this draft class at safety. Detroit needs some thump and a player who is capable of covering ground, which is just what O’Neal did in his time with the Aggies, to go with some big hits. Statistically, he put up 161 tackles and 6 interceptions in his career along with 12 passes defended. More important than that was the edge and mentality he plays with.
O’Neal probably goes higher than the sixth-round, but the Lions could nab him with a middle-round pick and shore up plenty of their issues over the middle of the field. He’d be a great developmental prospect for Aaron Glenn and Aubrey Pleasant.
Wan’Dale Robinson, Wide Receiver, Kentucky
The Lions could be looking for a receiver, and Robinson could be an ideal fit for the team. As a player, Robinson could turn into this year’s Amon-Ra St. Brown for them given his lower profile stature as well as his quietly big game in college. With Kentucky, Robinson has put up the numbers in very quiet fashion given his under-the-radar stature in the high-flying SEC. During a three-year career in college football, Robinson put up 2,248 yards and 10 touchdowns, splitting time between Nebraska and Kentucky. Here’s a look at some of his highlights:
Robinson seems to have the speed, strength and game to make the Lions a tough team to deal with if the team can pick him up. It will be interesting to see where he lands in the draft and if he could be a steal.