The Detroit Lions won their second game of the season last week, putting a hurt on the Arizona Cardinals. While the victory is highly motivating for a team desperate for some good news, it did knock the Lions out of the top spot, and now they are slated to pick second in the upcoming NFL draft.
As always, the mock draft roundup is an overview of the most popular mock drafting publications from the previous week. The focus, of course, is centered on who the analyst pairs with the Lions, and selected reasonings why.
Alright, let’s take a look at who was projected to the Lions recently.
Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Sikkema: “While Hutchinson is the hot name for the No. 1 overall pick right now, Thibodeaux shouldn’t be far behind if he doesn’t end up going No. 1 himself. Though he was banged up this season, he still produced one of the highest pass-rush win rates in college football at the edge position.”
“It can hardly be considered ‘settling’ with Thibodeaux.”
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Edholm: “You say the Lions can’t even win for losing. We say they’ll be fine with either Thibodeaux or Hutchinson. Either they take the local kid — who just so happened to be a Heisman Trophy finalist — or they double up with another Duck after taking OT Penei Sewell in the first round this past April.
“General manager Brad Holmes’ maiden draft looks like a strong effort, and the Lions could be building a good d-line with 2021 draft picks Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike, and veterans Romeo Okwara and Charles Harris on the edges. Hutchinson might not quite possess the rare burst, handwork and finishing ability of the Watt brothers, but he’s pretty darned close to that level of prospect.”
Kyle Hamilton, Safety, Notre Dame
Currently being mocked by Cam Mellor (Pro Football Network)
Mellor: “It should be ‘rebuild mode’ for the Detroit Lions in the 2022 NFL Draft, and who better to start a rebuild around than Kyle Hamilton. Notre Dame’s safety is a free-roamer with incredible range. He’ll dramatically improve the Lions’ coverage and run defense in 2022 and beyond.”
While most drafts still have Hutchinson going No. 1, there’s still a real chance the Jaguars prefer Thibodeaux, and the Michigan man still stays home. But even if the Lions miss out on the hometown hero, Thibodeaux is far from a downgrade, and may even be the player they desire.
Taking Hamilton at No. 2 seems like a positional reach—a safety hasn’t been drafted in the first three picks in the last 30 years—but there is no denying the talent.
With three games left in the season, the Lions may drop even further in the draft order, but the floor to which they could fall is the No. 8 pick. If they opted to grab Hamilton between No. 3 and No. 8, it’d be a lot more palatable.
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Currently being mocked by Drae Harris (The Draft Network)
Harris: “Detroit is still somewhat reeling in their receiving corps after watching both Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay leave. Chris Olave is a smooth route-runner and a fluid athlete. He can get vertical and also uncover in the short to intermediate area against man coverage. He will bring his dynamic ability on the outside to this team, adding another weapon to this offense.”
Drake London, WR, USC
Edholm: “London is a tantalizingly raw prospect whose best football is in front of him. After wavering between basketball and football at USC, the 6-foot-5 wideout stuck with the gridiron and caught a ridiculous 88 passes in eight games before suffering a broken ankle. The injury is believed to be a short-term worry, so that could end up the Lions’ long-term gain if he fell this far.”
Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Currently being mocked by Alex Buck (Pro Football Network)
Buck: “Detroit gets a much-needed WR in Jahan Dotson, who is a speed-first wideout with all the tools to be a difference-maker in the NFL. Dotson has made some spectacular catches in his time. With his elite speed, combined with catch ability and some serious hops, the Lions are getting a good one. Their offense currently lacks that speed and deep-threat ability. Problem solved.”
George Pickens, WR, Georgia
Currently being mocked by Trevor Sikkema (PFF)
Sikkema: “Before his injury, Pickens gave you a WR1 profile during his sophomore season at Georgia. He was on the line of scrimmage and faced a good amount of press coverage. He has a big enough body to handle the physicality at the line yet the speed to stretch the field vertically to keep cornerbacks hesitant from pressing too hard.
“His hands were consistent throughout the season; he has the ability to come down with spectacular catches and tracks the ball well through contact. He tore his ACL back in the spring of 2021, so we haven’t seen much of who he is as an athlete since then. But he’s been able to suit up late in the season, and if the player we’ve previously seen comes back, that’s first-round tape.”
Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
Currently being mocked by Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)
Edwards: “Detroit took Aidan Hutchinson earlier and now it adds Walker to the same defensive line. The presence of Romeo Okwara, Hutchinson and Walker allows that unit to be versatile and explosive up front. The goal is create roster strengths and in this case make life difficult on the opposing quarterback.”
Slotting a wide receiver at this spot for the Lions has, and will be, a popular selection all offseason. At this stage, it’s the perfect blend of need meeting value, but with the position group pecking order far from established, expect to see a range of options. I placed the above wide receiver group in my current preference order, but it’s still early in the evaluation process and things are bound to change.
Walker is a very intriguing prospect, and for a creative defensive coordinator, he will be a weapon. Capable of comfortably lining up anywhere from the 3-technique to a standup OLB in the NFL (he also plays the 1-tech at Georgia), the 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive lineman is a supreme athlete, who is a cross between Da’Shawn Hand and Trey Flowers. I’m also cool with the double-dip in Edwards mock draft because the value is there.
Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Currently being mocked by Cam Mellor (Pro Football Network)
Sure, why not.
It’s too early to start projecting trades in mock drafts, but if that suits your fancy, CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso and Ryan Wilson made some wild projections with the holiday season upon us.
Trapasso has the Lions trading back and grabbing Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton at No. 5, the trading up and grabbing Liberty QB Malik Willis at No. 20.
I’m not a fan of trades on mocks, especially this early, but hey, it’s the holiday season so go nuts.