Detroit Lions get WR, Michigan DEs get respect in latest ESPN draft projections

Detroit Free Press

Everyone knows two is better than one.

Buying two shoes is better than buying one. Two Coney spots, even if they’re right next door, is better than having one.

And having two first-round NFL draft picks is definitely better than one.

The Detroit Lions will have two of the top 32 selections in 2022, and, according to ESPN experts, two Michigan football edge rushers — and a Central Michigan Chippewa — should be among the first-rounders.

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New ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid, a former Football Championship Subdivision quarterback, released his first mock draft Wednesday and Todd McShay, one of ESPN’s regular draft commentators, updated his top 32 prospects Tuesday.

The full articles can be read with an ESPN-Plus subscription, but here are a few takeaways:

Detroit Lions get WR in the first round

Even if the Lions win a game this year — they tied last week, so they’re getting closer! — they still have the inside track to the No. 1 overall pick.

Obviously, the 0-8-1 Lions need a quarterback, but few believe the passers coming out after this season are top-pick material. So where does that leave the Lions?

Luckily — in a sad way — they have a litany of positional needs. Reid is the latest expert to predict Detroit will take Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Thibodeaux, at 6-foot-5 and 258 pounds, has racked up six sacks in eight games and is a key reason why the Ducks are sitting in the College Football Playoff‘s top four in the preliminary rankings. Thibodeaux and Romeo Okwara (once he returns from injury) would give the Lions one of the best pass-rush tandems in the NFC North.

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The bigger question may be what the Lions do with their second first-round pick, courtesy of the Matthew Stafford trade to the Rams. Reid thinks versatile Arkansas wideout Treylon Burks gets the call from Detroit.

“They are in desperate need of playmakers on the perimeter, and Burks can step in and play a vital role for a roster starved of talent,” Reid writes. “Burks has 51 catches for 796 yards and eight touchdowns this season, and he has done most of his damage out of the slot. At 6-foot-3, however, he could also play outside.”

Burks is a fringe first-round prospect and could eventually boost a pass game led by tight end T.J. Hockenson and running back D’Andre Swift.

Rookie wideouts rarely become weekly contributors in their first season — 2021 No. 5 overall pick JaMarr Chase notwithstanding — but the Lions have to help a receiving corps that doesn’t have anyone with more than 32 catches or 400 yards through nine games.

Two Wolverines make the top 10?

Pretty much every draft pundit has Aidan Hutchinson as a top-10 pick. The 6-6, 265-pound Michigan defensive end has nine sacks, two forced fumbles and 10½ tackles for loss for the 9-1 Wolverines.

Reid went so far as to project Hutchinson as the No. 2 pick, going to a Texans team that may have just as many needs as the Lions. (Though they do haveBrandin Cooks, who has almost as many catches — 57 — and yards — 641 — as Detroit’s two top wideouts combined).

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“(The Texans’) talent on the edge is scarce, particularly after releasing veteran Whitney Mercilus and trading away Charles Omenihu,” Reid writes. “Hutchinson (nine sacks, two forced fumbles) would be an upgrade at a premium position and instantly become their best pass-rusher.”

But not too far down, Reid has another Wolverine in the top 10: linebacker David Ojabo.

“Ojabo is the defensive prospect who has helped himself most this season, as he has 10 sacks and four forced fumbles in 10 games,” Reid writes. “It’s just a one-year sample… but he has starred on the other side of Aidan Hutchinson.”

Ojabo, a 6-5, 280-pound junior, has added 10 tackles for loss and six QB hurries this season.

McShay threw Ojabo some love too. He moved up from unranked in McShay’s first top-32 list to No. 25. Among outside linebacker prospects, McShay said Ojabo was No. 2 in the class.

“He has a super-quick first step and excellent torso flexibility when coming off the edge,” McShay writes. “He has speed and hunts for the ball, but he can get stuck on blocks occasionally.”

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This Chip fires up into McShay’s top rankings

Bernhard Raimann isn’t totally flying under the radar in the Mid-American Conference. The tight end-turned-offensive lineman was listed among the biggest “freaks” in college football coming into the season and has the measurables (6-7, 305 pounds) NFL line coaches dream of.

McShay has Raimann as the No. 28 prospect overall and the No. 4 tackle.

“He gets into position and walls off defenders against the run, though he will occasionally fall off a block late,” McShay writes. “As a pass-blocker, he has the ability to shut down defenders when he gets his hands inside, and thanks to great lateral mobility, he can take away the inside move. Considering he is relatively new to the offensive line, he is still raw, but Raimann’s ceiling is high.”

Follow the Free Press on Facebook and Twitter for more news. Tyler Davis can be contacted at or on Twitter @TDavisFreep.

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