Dave Birkett’s final mock draft: Aidan Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeaux for Lions?

Detroit Free Press

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Travon Walker, DL, Georgia

People around the NFL believe Walker is the favorite of GM Trent Baalke, while others in the organization prefer Aidan Hutchinson or Ikem Ekwonu.

Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan

Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson waves at fans during warmups before the Big Ten championship game against Iowa on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Lions seem poised to take a pass rusher here, with Hutchinson being the slight favorite over Kayvon Thibodeaux and Jermaine Johnson II.

JEFF SEIDEL: If I were Brad Holmes, my top pick would be Kayvon Thibodeaux. Here’s why

3. Houston Texans

Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge, Oregon

The Texans are the draft’s biggest wildcard, so Thibodeaux is as good a guess as any.

4. New York Jets

Ikem Ekwonu, offensive line, North Carolina State

The Jets don’t have a huge need on the offensive line, but Ekwonu might be the best player in the draft.

5. New York Giants

Ahmad Gardner, cornerback, Cincinnati

With James Bradberry soon to be traded, it makes sense to take the best cornerback in the draft.

6. Carolina Panthers

Evan Neal, offensive tackle, Alabama

A quarterback could be in play here, but the Panthers don’t have any Day 2 picks.

7. New York Giants

Jermaine Johnson II, edge, Florida State

The Giants badly need an offensive tackle, but building a formidable defense works, too.

CORNERING THE MARKET: Why Ahmad Gardner, Derek Stingley Jr. should be top-10 picks

8. Atlanta Falcons

Drake London, wide receiver, USC

I had Kyle Hamilton here in my last mock, but the Falcons have the worst receiver room in the NFL.

9. Seattle Seahawks

Derek Stingley Jr., cornerback, LSU

Stingley is one of the three most talented players in the draft.

10. New York Jets

Jameson Williams, wide receiver, Alabama

The Jets give Zach Wilson a deep threat to throw to.

SHAWN WINDSOR: Could you survive Lions drafting a CB at No. 2? Why it’s not the worst idea ever

11. Washington Commanders

Malik Willis, quarterback, Liberty

Just playing a hunch with this one.

12. Minnesota Vikings

Kyle Hamilton, safety, Notre Dame

This feels low for Hamilton, who was once considered in the mix for the Lions at No. 2.

13. Houston Texans

Garrett Wilson, wide receiver, Ohio State

With the cost of receivers rising, the top three come off the board quickly in this draft.

Mississippi State offensive lineman Charles Cross (67) blocks against Arkansas during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

14. Baltimore Ravens

Charles Cross, offensive tackle, Mississippi State

I’m not doing trades in this mock, but if Cross falls out of the top 10 some team likely will move up to get him.

15. Philadelphia Eagles

Jordan Davis, defensive tackle, Georgia

Pairing Davis with Fletcher Cox gives the Eagles a mountain of a defensive line.

16. New Orleans Saints

Kenny Pickett, quarterback, Pitt

The Saints need a long-term quarterback and Pickett could be the guy.

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

17. Los Angeles Chargers

Trevor Penning, offensive tackle, Northern Iowa

The Chargers must do a better job protecting Justin Herbert.

Michigan defensive back Daxton Hill (30) takes the field for warm up before the kickoff of the Orange Bowl against Georgia at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Fla. on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021.

18. Philadelphia Eagles

Dax Hill, safety, Michigan

Two Michigan defenders in the top 20.

19. New Orleans Saints

Chris Olave, wide receiver, Ohio State

And now the Saints get their new quarterback one of the draft’s top receivers.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers

Trent McDuffie, cornerback, Washington

Don’t be surprised if the Steelers go up to get their quarterback.

A LOOK BACK: Lions GM Brad Holmes learned valuable lesson in 2021 NFL draft: ‘Be patient’

21. New England Patriots

Andrew Booth Jr., cornerback, Clemson

A replacement for J.C. Jackson.

22. Green Bay Packers

Devin Lloyd, linebacker, Utah

Aaron Rodgers will get his receiver … eventually.

23. Arizona Cardinals

Treylon Burks, wide receiver, Arkansas

With contract talks moving slowly, the Cardinals have to do something to keep Kyler Murray happy.

24. Dallas Cowboys

Kenyon Green, offensive line, Texas A&M

The Cowboys need to rebuild their once-dominant offensive line.

[ Three scenarios for Lions’ early picks: How NFL draft could play out ]

25. Buffalo Bills

Kaiir Elam, cornerback, Florida

As good as the quarterbacks are in the AFC, the Bills can’t go wrong adding another cornerback.

Mississippi QB Matt Corral.

26. Tennessee Titans

Matt Corral, quarterback, Ole Miss

Time to start planning for life after Ryan Tannehill.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Devonte Wyatt, defensive tackle, Georgia

Off-field questions could cause Wyatt to slide into late Round 1.

28. Green Bay Packers

Christian Watson, wide receiver, North Dakota State

Watson’s size and speed is worth a roll of the dice for the Packers.

WHAT A CATCH! As money soars, NFL teams grapple with how early to take WRs in NFL draft

29. Kansas City Chiefs

Quay Walker, linebacker, Georgia

In a bit of a surprise, Walker goes before his more heralded Georgia teammate, Nakobe Dean.

30. Kansas City Chiefs

Drake Jackson, edge, USC

Michigan’s David Ojabo could make sense here as well.

31. Cincinnati Bengals

George Karlaftis, edge, Purdue

Karlaftis had more pressures than Thibodeaux and Walker last season.

32. Detroit Lions

Nakobe Dean, linebacker, Georgia

Chris Spielman will be celebrating in the draft room if Dean falls to 32.

Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

33. Jacksonville Jaguars

Tyler Smith, offensive tackle, Tulsa

After taking Walker at one, the Jaguars get Trevor Lawrence some help on offense.

34. Detroit Lions

Lewis Cine, safety, Georgia

Another playmaker off Georgia’s star-studded defense could be just what the doctor ordered for the Lions.

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

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