DETROIT -- The 2022 NFL draft has concluded.
Round 1, No. 2 overall: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
The highlights that will make everyone want to draft DE Aidan Hutchinson
Check out NFL draft prospect Aidan Hutchinson's relentless moments at Michigan as a defensive end.
My take: It makes perfect sense. The Lions need game-changers, especially on defense. Hutchinson has everything it takes to be one and a local fan base that should come along with him. This is a perfect pick to help the Lions in their rebuild process. Detroit has finished in the bottom five in pressure percentage in each of the past six seasons. Hutchinson should help improve that right away.
Was Hutchinson the right pick? On paper, yes. Detroit’s defense finished 29th in pressure percentage and 30th in sacks last season so they needed an edge rusher badly, but Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux was still on the board. Hutchinson was the more accomplished player in college and was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2021. He also set Michigan’s single-season record with 14 sacks in 2021. Many experts feel the Lions are getting a star in the making and it doesn’t hurt that he’s a local kid who was born and raised in the state.
Did the local ties impact the decision to draft Hutchinson? It certainly didn’t hurt that he played at U of M and attended Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Michigan, not far from the Lions' practice facility. But his talent couldn’t be denied, either. Hutchinson was a 2021 consensus first-team All-American who averaged 4.7 pressures per game in 2021. His production was impressive no matter where he was born and raised. This situation couldn’t have been scripted any better.
Round 1, No. 12 overall: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
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My take: The Lions trading up 20 spots to take Williams was one of the biggest stories of the night. With this pick, Detroit has committed to surrounding quarterback Jared Goff with strong offensive weapons as they see the former Rams QB as their guy for now. Williams will join tight end T.J. Hockenson and wide receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown, DJ Chark and Josh Reynolds, so the Lions can be patient and bring him along slowly. But once he’s recovered from the ACL tear he suffered in January's national championship game, Detroit sees him as weapon on the outside that can dictate coverage, help open up the run game and provide opportunities for other skill players.
Why Lions took a chance: Despite the injury, the Lions are high on his talent because they feel that he could stretch the field with his speed. Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson describes Williams as an “electric” talent with “juice,” and says once he gets healthy, the Lions intend to play him immediately. As an organization, Detroit felt good about what he can do for the entire team. The Lions had just two total pass plays of 50+ yards last season, which were tied for the third fewest, according to ESPN Stats & Info, so his skillset will certainly be valued.
History of drafting receivers: Williams marks the fifth time in the past 20 years the Lions have drafted a wide receiver in the first round, which is tied for most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Info. On the bright side, the last time the Lions drafted a receiver in Round 1 was 2007, when they took Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson at No. 2 overall. The three times before that were during a stretch between 2003-05 in which they took a top-10 wide receiver every year -- Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams. Ben Johnson sees a ton of potential in their latest pick.
Round 2, No. 46 overall: Josh Paschal, DE, Kentucky
Josh Paschal's NFL draft profile
Check out the most impactful plays made by DE Josh Paschal while at Kentucky.
My take: Detroit continued to build its defense after giving up 27.5 points per game last season, 31st in the league. The Lions desperately needed help rushing the passer after finishing 29th in pressure percentage and 30th in sacks last season. Paschal is a big body who can help after totaling 137 tackles in his college career. He was also the only three-time captain in school history at Kentucky, which says a lot about his character and leadership.
Round 3, No. 97 overall: Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois
Kerby Joseph's NFL draft profile
Check out the best highlights from Kerby Joseph's fantastic collegiate career at Illinois.
My take: Improving the defense remains the theme of this year’s draft as Detroit added another strong piece. The Lions have are bringing in a talented safety to the mix with Joseph, who registered five interceptions and three forced fumbles in 2021. He met the Lions during the Senior Bowl, then had another meeting with the staff at the NFL combine where he developed some familiarity. He also has some experience as a receiver -- playing some there during his junior season -- which he feels will give him an advantage on defense.
Round 5, No. 177 overall: James Mitchell, TE, Virginia Tech
My take: T.J. Hockenson is clearly the Lions’ marquee tight end and one of the best offensive players on the roster, but Detroit has added depth to the position with Mitchell. He is coming off an injury to the ACL in his right knee, and he only played two games in 2021. But he expects to be fully cleared by training camp.
Round 6, No. 188 overall: Malcolm Rodriguez, ILB, Oklahoma State
Malcolm Rodriguez's draft profile
Check out the best highlights from linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez's college career at Oklahoma State.
My take: Rodriguez has led the team in tackles over the past three seasons. He has also totaled 272 tackles since 2019, which are the fifth most in the FBS. Drafting a linebacker was one of the many needs of this roster after the Lions allowed more than 1,000 yards after contact last season.
Round 6, No. 217 overall: James Houston, OLB, Jackson State
My take: Lions general manager Brad Holmes drafts an HBCU prospect in Jackson State's James Houston, giving Deion Sanders his first NFL draft pick as a head coach. Holmes, an HBCU graduate of North Carolina A&T, spoke extensively throughout the year about giving those kids a chance. In this situation, he stands on his word.
Round 7, No. 237 overall: Chase Lucas, CB, Arizona State
My take: It’s only right that the Lions would add another defensive player with their final pick to help with their laundry list of needs on that side of the ball entering this season. The Lions are the only team to allow 100 passing touchdowns over the last three seasons combined (102). They’ve also intercepted just 25 passes in that time, which is tied for fewest with the Las Vegas Raiders so they’re looking for Lucas to help in the secondary after experiencing five years as a starter in college.