The State of the Lions:
The Lions seem to have finally found the right combination of GM and Head Coach. While their record didn’t show it, the team competed and was in most games during 2021. Brad Holmes’ first draft class was a success, highlighted by Penei Sewell falling to No. 7.
The roster is still in rough shape and has plenty of holes, but another good draft class in 2022 could really set this team up well for a run with strong, young talent as early as 2023. Some of the biggest needs are getting pass rush and secondary help on the defensive side and receiver help on offense. With four picks in the first 66 selections, they have a chance to pick up some solid talent.
Aidan Hutchinson – Edge – Michigan
Hutchinson is the ideal modern NFL edge with a special blend of pass rush skills, athleticism, strength, hand use, and competitiveness that will make him a cornerstone player for an NFL franchise.
There is still a ton of uncertainty with the No. 1 pick. If Hutchinson isn’t the pick, the Lions would be wise to go for the “hometown” player and grab Hutchinson, who should have no issue producing double-digit sack totals early in his career.
Kayvon Thibodeaux – Edge – Oregon
Thibodeaux is a game-changing pass rusher and strong run defender who plays with heavy hands and good leverage, though he needs to improve his flexibility and run a hotter motor to become a more complete player.
If Hutchinson is gone, Thibodeaux is a great, next-best option. He’s arguably one of the most talented players in this draft class and has game-changing ability in both the pass and run games.
Kyle Hamilton – S – Notre Dame
Hamilton is a versatile safety who impacts all three levels of the field and is a rangy playmaker with the cover skills, speed, and athleticism to be an elite-level defender against both the run and pass.
Not many players are 6’4”, 220 lbs. and can run, range, and locate the ball like he can. Hamilton would bring true athleticism to a secondary that desperately needs it.
Corral is a mobile quarterback with great pocket awareness and athletic ability, but he must refine his spot-on accuracy to all levels and decision-making skills in order to become a reason you win games in the NFL.
While QB isn’t out of the question at No. 2, it feels like it would make more sense at No. 32. If Corral is still around, he’s a great developmental option who has a quick release and some dual-threat ability.
Pickens is a big-bodied, big-play threat whose hands, tracking ability and competitiveness will make him a consistent contributor, especially once he learns an NFL route tree and if he becomes more dynamic after the catch.
The receiving corps needs one more big-play option, and Pickens could be that guy. His blend of size, speed, and athleticism is rare.
Ojabo is an excellent athlete with the speed, range, bend, and flexibility to be a force as a pass-rush specialist, but he needs to get stronger and just see more reps in order to develop into an all-around player at the next level.
Ojabo was poised to go much higher than here before the unfortunate Pro Day injury. Taking him here gives the team a 5th-Year Option on a player who likely will be “redshirting” his rookie year anyway.
Christian Watson – WR – North Dakota State
Watson is a quality receiver with the ability to take the top off the defense on any given snap, but needs to get stronger, improve his route running, and separate better in order to hit his potential.
Another receiver with a solid blend of size, speed, and athleticism, if he transfers his skill set to the NFL game he could be a solid piece moving forward.
Walker’s ability to defend the run and play in zone coverage make him an intriguing prospect at his size and athletic profile, and if he can continue to improve his instincts, he has the potential to be a high-level starter at the next level.
Linebacker seems to have been a need for Detroit for years. Walker, one of the three Georgia linebackers, is versatile and can excel in both the run and pass game.
Cine has very good tracking and ball skills with the speed and smarts to play on the back end, but his inconsistencies in run support and as a tackler may hold him back from reaching his full potential.
Cine is a versatile playmaker who flies all over the field and isn’t afraid to lay a big hit, something the new coaching staff craves.
Bonitto is an athletic, rangy, bendy pass rusher who should excel at getting to the passer with his lack of strength and run game stoutness limiting him to just third downs early in his career at the next level.
The Lions need pass rush help. Bonitto is an athletic pass rusher who, once he gets a little bigger and stronger, will be a great option to stand up on the edge in Detroit.
Chenal is a fantastic athlete, a jackhammer in the run game, and an impactful blitzer against the pass, but he needs more coverage experience and quicker instincts to reach a true three-down, three-level ceiling.
Chenal is your classic thumping Mike linebacker. He needs to improve in coverage, but he’s going to play hard, play fast, and attack the line of scrimmage. Will fit perfectly into this locker room.
Cole Strange – OG – Chattanooga
Strange has the reactive athleticism to mirror defenders, consistent leg drive to move them, and the nastiness to finish through the whistle, but he’ll need to improve his balance, footwork, and awareness to maximize his potential.
While the Lions offensive line is in one of the better places it’s been in for a while, it never hurts to have depth. Strange is no stranger to playing multiple positions, and will fit in as a perfect interior backup.
To learn more about the Lions and their needs, visit their team page on our NFL Draft website here.