Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes spoke for about 30 minutes on Thursday afternoon—a week before the 2022 NFL Draft. Holmes was peppered with questions about quarterback, positional value, trading in the draft, and football character among many other topics. And while Holmes has already seemingly mastered the science of saying a lot while revealing a little, there were a handful of interesting things to take from his media sessions.
Here are my four biggest takeaways from Holmes’ pre-draft presser.
Don’t be surprised if the Lions trade up
Holmes said trade down discussions have been quiet thus far, but he gave a far more interesting answer when talking about his overall philosophy in the draft. Holmes was asked how he balances being patient in the draft vs. making a bold move. The Lions general manager made it clear that if there’s a guy he likes, they’re going to go after him.
“if there’s a player that we have buy-in and we want, I’m going to try to get that player,” Holmes said with conviction. “That’s just bottom line. There is value in being patient and sitting back. You’ve just got to assess where the value is on your draft board and what the volume and depth is. If the conviction is that high, yeah, you can’t just sit, wait and be patient and see if that player’s going to be there or not. Sometimes you’ve got to be aggressive and go and get him.”
That tracks with how Holmes approached last year’s draft. He reportedly tried to trade up for Ja’Marr Chase, he did trade up for linebacker Derrick Barnes, and he nearly traded up for Levi Onwuzurike—who ended up falling to them anyways.
It’s worth pointing out, though, that Holmes said the amount of players in each draft class that he’ll have that much certainty about is relatively low.
“Now, there are not a lot of those players throughout the draft always, but when that player is identified, I’ll always be aggressive,” Holmes said.
The Lions could take an unconventional position at 2
A few weeks back, head coach Dan Campbell said something that stuck with me. When talking about the No. 2 pick, he noted that the team may not care as much about positional value as some draft analysts. They’re more concerned about getting a player they are certain about.
“We’re looking at every scenario because there’s some guys that are ultimately—some might say, ‘Well, is the value worth it at two?’ No, we don’t care,” Campbell said. “All that matters is this dude is going to come in and play, and he’s going to help us, and he’s going to be a productive player for a long time in this league for us. That’s what matters to us.”
Holmes essentially echoed those statements on Thursday.
“Just because often, it’s been slated that, well, picking up there, it’s either going to be a quarterback or a pass rusher or a tackle and all that type of stuff. But look, I said from day one, give me a game-changer at any position, and there are multiple positions where we do see that potential game-changers could be there in the future,” Holmes said.
So is safety Kyle Hamilton in play? Could the Lions dare to go cornerback with either Ahmad Gardner or Derek Stingley Jr.? I wouldn’t take anything off the table.
Detroit is prepared for a trade down
Though chatter has been quiet about moving out of the second overall pick, Holmes said it is always important to not just focus on the draft picks you currently have, but the picks you could potentially have.
“It’s not just narrowing it down to your top two. You better have your top five. You better have your top 10 in place because you just don’t know what’s going to happen each day,” Holmes said. “We do have it narrowed down, and we feel confident where we’re at with how we have it pared down. We’ll just let the process unfold.”
He also indirectly talked about the possibility of trading down from 32 when talking about the value of a fifth-year option for first-round picks, specifically quarterbacks.
“Is there a team that is sitting right at the top of the second round or the middle of the second round that wants to trade up in front of us to pick a quarterback?” Holmes said. “There is value there.”
Brad Holmes is living out his dream
Every now and then, it’s important to step and remember the human beings that are in these powers of position. Brad Holmes has spent the last 20 years of his life devoted to the art of college scouting. That hard work has paid off, and now he’s at the top of the scouting food chain as a general manager. Holmes took a minute during his press conference to express his gratitude for living out his dream job.
“I love it every single day. Every single day you get an opportunity to dive deeper into this process, you just love every second of it, every minute of it. Often, it doesn’t really feel like work, it’s your passion and what you love to do. So, there are some grueling, long hours and there are some tough decisions. There are some, I don’t want to say sleepless nights, but there were some nights where I was waking up like, ‘OK, what are we going to do here?’ But at the end of the day, I’m very, very fortunate to be in the position that I’m in and very fortunate for this staff that I have surrounded me that has helped us get through this process. But I just love it. I just love doing it. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”