We looked at 50 NFL mock drafts for the Detroit Lions. Here’s what we found

Detroit Free Press

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When the Detroit Lions were losing every game they played for the first three months of the 2021 season, it seemed area native and Michigan football star Aidan Hutchinson was destined to be picked No. 1 in the 2022 NFL draft by his hometown team.

Then the winter happened.

The Lions won three games in a month-plus as the Jacksonville Jaguars claimed the top pick and franchise-tagged their starting left tackle, dousing the once-popular idea that the Jags would draft an offensive lineman. (They signed him to a three-year, nearly $54 million extension Wednesday.)  Hutchinson, a Heisman finalist who’s topped draft boards for months, to Jacksonville seemed like a no-brainer.

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Now, with the draft days away, the “old” idea that Hutchinson is going to the Lions is again popular, according to several reporters, analysts and insiders

We looked at dozens of mock drafts to see what writers think the Lions will do at No. 2. The consensus seems to be general manager Brad Holmes selecting a defensive player, specifically an edge rusher. The more recent mocks — often citing intel that Jaguars general manager Tim Baalke is enamored with Georgia’s Travon Walker — favor Hutchinson or Walker to the Lions. 

Many think the Lions will be left to pick one after the Jaguars pick the other, while some still believe Jacksonville go for an offensive lineman, giving Detroit its pick of the class’s top pass rushers

The third-most popular Lions pick among these writers was Oregon standout Kayvon Thibodeaux, who has been linked to Detroit since the winter projections; before Walker used the combine to shoot up draft boards. Thibodeaux finished his career with 19 sacks in 30 games (seven sacks in 2021) while Hutchinson had 18.5 sacks in 36 games (14 in 2021). Walker didn’t have that production (six sacks in 2021, 9.5 total in three seasons) but is 275 pounds, runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, has a 35½-inch vertical leap and flashed a relentless motor. 

Super 6: Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux among most likely Lions picks at No. 2 ]

More than one prognosticator had the Lions taking a quarterback with the second pick and another analyst predicted a defensive back (gasp)

Below is a breakdown followed by links to the mocks. In 2021, the 40-plus predictions we looked at were chiefly split among three players (Penei Sewell was the choice on 12 mocks followed by Micah Parsons at nine and Jaylen Waddell at nine), and the most popular pick turned out to be the Lions’ selection at No. 7. 

Detroit Lions’ most popular 2022 NFL mock draft pick 

Travon Walker: 20

Aidan Hutchinson: 16

Kayvon Thibodeaux: 10

Malik Willis: 2

Kyle Hamilton: 1

Kenny Pickett: 1

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50 mock drafts

1. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press: Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge, Oregon

2. Nate Davis, USA TODAY: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan  

3. Luke Easterling, Draftwire: Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge, Oregon 

4. Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia

5. Jordan Reid, ESPN: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

6. Todd McShay, ESPN: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia  

7. Dane Brugler, The Athletic: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia

‘BE PATIENT’: Lions GM Brad Holmes learned valuable lesson in 2021 NFL draft

8. The Athletic NFL writers mock draft: Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge, Oregon

9. Peter King, Pro Football Talk: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan

10. Austin Gayle, Pro Football Focus: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan

11. Ian Cummings, Pro Football Network: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia 

12. Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia

13. Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Aidan Hutchinson, WR, Michigan 

14. Dave Richard, CBS Sports: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia  

15. Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan

16. Patrik Walker, CBS Sports: Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge, Oregon

17. Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan 

18.  Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia

19. Jacob Camenker, The Sporting News: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia

20. Albert Breer, Sports Illustrated: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia 

21. Conor Orr, Sports Illustrated: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan 

22. Zack Patraw, Sports Illustrated: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia

23. Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan

24. Charles Davis, NFL Network: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan

25. Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia

26. Rhett Lewis, NFL Network: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia 

27. Peter Schrager, NFL Network: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan 

28. Bob Rang, Fox Sports: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan

29. Jason McIntyre, Fox Sports: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia

30.  Eric Edholm, Yahoo Sports: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia 

31. Eric Froton, NBC Sports: Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge, Oregon 

32. Chris Simms, NBC Sports: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia

33. Tankathon: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan 

34. Bleacher Report scouting department: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty  

35. Danny Kelly, The Ringer: Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge, Oregon 

36. Seth Tractman, Yardbarker: Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge, Oregon 

37. SB Nation writers: Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge, Oregon 

38. Walter Cherepinsky, Walter Football: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia 

39. Charlie Campbell, Walter Football: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan 

40. Maurice Jones-Drew, NFL.com: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan

41. Chad Reuter, NFL.com: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt

42. Mike O’Hara, Lions.com: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

43. Jaime Eisner, The Draft Network: Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge, Oregon

44. Ryan Fowler, The Draft Network: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan

45. Barry Wilner, Associated Press: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia 

46. Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune:  Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan

47. Ben Arthur, Tennessean: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia  

48. Bob McManaman, Arizona Republic: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia 

49. Drafttek: Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge, Oregon 

50. Logan Ulrich, NFL Trade Rumors: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia 

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

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