Detroit Lions clinch top-two pick in 2022 NFL draft; Taylor Decker talks TD

Detroit Free Press

SEATTLE — The No. 2 pick has been good to the Detroit Lions in the past, and the Lions are guaranteed to be choosing at least that high in April’s NFL draft.

The Lions clinched at least a top-two pick in this year’s draft with their 51-29 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have the worst record in the NFL at 2-14 and can secure the No. 1 overall pick with a loss to the Indianapolis Colts next week or a Lions win or tie.

The Lions (2-13-1) close the season at home against the Green Bay Packers, who can wrap up the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings.

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No other team has fewer than four wins.

The Lions have had the No. 2 overall pick twice in the past 16 years and hit home runs with both selections.

In 2007, the Lions took wide receiver Calvin Johnson at No. 2 overall. Johnson was a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection and owns every major Lions receiving record.

Three years later, the Lions took defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh at No. 2. Suh was NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2010 and earned three first-team All-Pro selections in five seasons in Detroit.

This year’s draft is not considered nearly as strong up top. There is no consensus No. 1 quarterback, though the Lions could end up with one of the draft’s top two pass rushers, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux or Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson.

Neither is considered as good a prospect as recent high picks Myles Garrett or Chase Young, but both would help a Lions defense short on blue-chip players.

Thibodeaux had 19 sacks and 35½ tackles for loss in 30 career games for the Ducks, while Hutchinson, a Heisman Trophy finalist, had 14 sacks and two forced fumbles this season for the Wolverines.

The Lions have picked in the top 10 each of the past three years, with mixed results.

They took offensive tackle Penei Sewell with the No. 7 pick last April. Sewell has played well while starting eight games at both left and right tackle. In 2020, the Lions took cornerback Jeff Okudah No. 3 overall. And in 2019, they took tight end T.J. Hockenson at No. 8.

Okudah has played just 10 games in two seasons and ruptured his Achilles tendon in the season opener this year. He’s expected to make a full recovery by the start of the next season, but will have to fight for playing time in a secondary that returns Amani Oruwariye and Jerry Jacobs at cornerback.

Hockenson made the Pro Bowl last season, but underwent season-ending thumb surgery last month. He caught 61 passes for 583 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games.

He got Moss’d

Taylor Decker had an elaborate celebration planned for his second career touchdown, but the Lions’ left tackle scrapped that Sunday with the Lions down big.

Decker caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Tim Boyle with 4:50 to play in the third quarter to cut the Lions’ deficit to 38-22. He sold a run block on the play, then leaked out the left side of the defense behind Seahawks safety Ryan Neal.

“We were using six and seven linemen the whole game, we were reporting the whole time, and you can’t hear what numbers they say are reporting (when they are announced by the referee),” Decker said. “So when they called that personnel, just went to the ref, all three of us, and I reported, and they announced it, but it was a little deception. Had a safety over the top and he was a little late to recognize it. And soft hands. I did tell him he got Moss’d.”

Decker, a svelte 6 feet 7 and 324 pounds, caught his first touchdown from Matthew Stafford in 2018, when he celebrated by throwing the ball into the stands.

On Sunday, Decker jumped to make his catch — “barely,” he said — then kept the ball in his arms.

The Lions, playing without two of their top three receivers and down to starting their fourth and fifth tight ends, tried two tackle-eligible passes Sunday. But sixth lineman Matt Nelson dropped a pass on the goal line three plays before Decker’s score.

“You’re doing what you can with what you got, and it was a good job by Decker,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “Good sell. Nelson was good, he was wide open, just didn’t work out. You’re doing all you can. You’re shooting all your bullets, man. You’re trying to find a way to score.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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