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Detroit Lions NFL Draft picks 2022: Grades, fits and scouting reports

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 28: Aidan Hutchinson poses onstage after being selected second by the Detroit Lions during round one of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
By The Athletic NFL Staff
Apr 30, 2022

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The Detroit Lions finished the 2022 NFL Draft with eight picks: two in the first and sixth rounds, plus one each in the second, third, fifth and seventh rounds.

The Lions made Michigan edge Aidan Hutchinson their top pick at No. 2, after Georgia edge Travon Walker went No. 1 to the Jaguars. Hutchinson, the No. 1 prospect on Dane Brugler’s Top 300 prospect rankings, had been the favorite to go No. 1 for months, but the Jags went with Walker instead. That won’t bother the Lions, who needed edge help and had done extensive scouting on Walker, Hutchinson and Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux.

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Detroit then made a blockbuster trade, sending its picks at 32, 34 and 66 to the Vikings for Nos. 12 and 46. The Lions took Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams at No. 12. Williams had been considered a high first-round pick before suffering an ACL injury in January.

On Day 2, they used their No. 46 pick on Kentucky defensive end Josh Paschal, then selected Illinois safety Kerby Joseph at No. 97.

GM Brad Holmes kicked off Day 3 by gaining tight end depth, drafting Virginia Tech’s James Mitchell in the fifth round at No. 177. Shortly thereafter, he traded No. 181 to the Eagles for picks 188 and 237. The Lions used No. 188 on Malcolm Rodriguez, a linebacker from Oklahoma State. Later in the sixth round, they selected Jackson State linebacker James Houston.

They finished the draft by taking Arizona State cornerback Chase Lucas.

Round 1 

No. 2: Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan

How he fits: Hutchinson will have to move his bags about 32 miles east. The former Michigan standout will head to Detroit and become an immediate edge presence up front for Aaron Glenn and the Detroit Lions as Dan Campbell’s football team looks to rebuild its defense.

A year ago, the Lions set their offensive foundation in the feet of offensive tackle Penei Sewell. Sewell will be a future presence for the franchise for a decade-plus. In taking Hutchinson, Holmes is hoping for the same thing defensively: picking the most steady, highest-floor, full-package edge defender — arguably the most ready, right now — in this class. Thibodeaux and his relationship with Lions GM Brad Holmes and Detroit’s scouting department was notable — and his pass rush value might always be higher than Hutchinson’s at the next level. Hutchinson’s athletic ability, though, is Bosa-level at minimum. And can’t be ignored.

In Hutchinson, Campbell gets a complete and total culture fit. Hutchinson will empty his tank every single day for the city of Detroit and the franchise. If it doesn’t work out, it won’t be for lack of trying. — Nick Baumgardner

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Dane Brugler’s analysis: Hutchinson doesn’t have the same bend or arc skills as the Bosa brothers, but he wins with similar quickness, power and skilled hand play to be productive as both a pass rusher and run defender. He projects as a disruptive, scheme-proof NFL starter.

Chris Burke’s analysis: Lions finds ‘true fit’ with Michigan edge Aidan Hutchinson

Austin Meek’s analysis: What Michigan edge Aidan Hutchinson brings to the Detroit Lions

Sheil Kapadia’s grade: B-plus

No. 12 (traded Nos. 32, 34 and 66 to Vikings): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

How he fits: The Lions had been eyeing a trade with their pick at No. 32 for some time, and we’ve seen it happen. Detroit trades 32, 34 and and 66 to Minnesota for No. 12 and No. 46. And, instead of taking Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett, Brad Holmes gets his favorite receiver in Williams.
The Alabama bullet, who is still recovering from an ACL injury, is one of the best ball-trackers in the draft and can take the top off the defense with the best of them. The Lions are giving Jared Goff more weapons and not making a decision behind him. He’ll get at least one more year to prove he can be the guy for Dan Campbell in Detroit. Jameson Williams joins a workmanlike WR room led by Amon-Ra St. Brown and coached by Antwaan Randle-El. — Nick Baumgardner

Dane Brugler’s analysis: Williams is rehabbing a torn ACL, but if healthy, he has the field-stretching speed and ball instincts to be a big-play weapon. He projects as an NFL starter with a chance to be special in a downfield passing offense.

Chris Burke’s analysis: Jameson Williams makes Lions’ receiver room deeper — and more explosive

Aaron Suttles’ analysis: What Alabama WR Jameson Williams brings to the Detroit Lions

Sheil Kapadia’s grade: B

Round 2 

No. 46 (from Vikings): Josh Paschal, DE, Kentucky

How he fits: Jared Goff is breathing easier tonight. With Malik Willis and Desmond Ridder on the board, the Lions went with Paschal. An interesting pick to say the least, after the Lions drafted Aidan Hutchinson at No. 2. Paschal is a rocked-up, powerful football player who finds his way into disruptive situations. Good explosion, solid speed — but suboptimal size (32 3/4-inch arms, 79-inch wingspan) on the edge.

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Still, at 6-3, 270, Paschal — a two-time captain at Kentucky who beat cancer — can play either side up front for Detroit and will be scheme-diverse. A good player. And in line with Aaron Glenn’s wishes to find edge players who can create carnage for his linebackers to flow and make plays. — Nick Baumgardner

Dane Brugler’s analysis: Paschal isn’t a dynamic or sophisticated pass rusher, but he is polished vs. the run with the point-of-attack instincts and football character that will be welcomed in an NFL building. He is a scheme-diverse end who can be part of an NFL rotation.

Chris Burke’s analysis: Paschal another high-character presence for Lions’ defensive front

Sheil Kapadia’s grade: B-minus

Round 3 

No. 97 (compensatory): Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois

How he fits: Joseph is a rangy safety with the wingspan of an NBA small forward. He did some of his best work in the middle of the field at Illinois. Joseph was a bit of a late bloomer, but his best production came in 2021 after growing into his frame and playing in a defense better-suited to his strengths.

Detroit won’t be playing much single-high safety in 2022, but Joseph’s range will work just fine to close throwing lanes in intermediate areas. If he can continue to build on his ball production, Joseph can be another steal in this draft. — Diante Lee

Dane Brugler’s analysis: Joseph must improve his play strength, but he reads well from depth and tracks the football with his speed and burst to close. He projects as a special-teamer and developmental NFL starter ideally suited for a Cover-3 scheme.

Chris Burke’s analysis: Joseph knows how to track the football, thanks to receiver stint

Sheil Kapadia’s grade: B

Round 5 

No. 177 (compensatory): James Mitchell, TE, Virginia Tech

Dane Brugler’s analysis: Mitchell needs to stay healthy and cultivate elements of his game, but he is a three-level pass-catching threat with outstanding body control and hand strength. He has NFL starting potential as an H-back and would be drafted higher if not for his knee injury.

Chris Burke’s analysis: The Lions got solid value at a position of need Mitchell might have been a Round 3 or 4 guy were it not for the ACL injury he suffered early in 2021. He’ll be another weapon in this passing attack; he had 16.7 yards per catch in ’20 and 71.2 percent of his career catches went for a TD or first down. A TE2 favorite, if he’s 100 percent.

Round 6 

No. 188 (trade with Eagles): Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, Oklahoma State

Dane Brugler’s analysis: Rodriguez won’t be for everyone with his poor size and linear tendencies, but he understands football geometry with the diagnose skills and competitive toughness to see the field in the NFL. He will need the right fit, similar in ways to Seattle Seahawks LB Ben Burr-Kirven.

Chris Burke’s analysis: Rodriguez is a former safety who’s on the small side (5-11, 232) for his current position, but he tackled everything last season, finishing with 132 tackles, including 16 1/2 for loss. We’ll see if he can hold up as a three-down back. He should be a presence vs. the run and on special teams, though.

No. 217 (compensatory): James Houston, LB, Jackson State

Dane Brugler’s analysis: Houston needs to mature his rush plan, but his length, heavy hands and explosive pursuit of the quarterback are traits worth betting on.

Chris Burke’s analysis: Hey, why not one more pass rusher for the Lions? A Florida transfer, Houston was an FCS All-American last season with 24 1/2 tackles for loss and a whopping 16 1/2 sacks. He’s only 6-0, 244, but he measured in with an 82-inch wingspan at his pro day and uses that length well. He’s an explosive edge presence. Worth a shot in Round 6.

Round 7

No. 237 (trade with Eagles): Chase Lucas, CB, Arizona State

Dane Brugler’s analysis: Lucas has his share of discipline lapses on tape, but he is a twitchy athlete with the body control in coverage to leverage passing windows and make plays on the ball. His inside-outside versatility will help him make an NFL roster.

Chris Burke’s analysis: Detroit wrapped its 2022 draft class with Lucas, a 5-11, 182-pounder. That’s another versatile option in the secondary Lucas can hang outside or in the slot. He’s also already 25 years old and spent six seasons at Arizona State. With that age/experience combination, the Lions should expect that he can hit the ground running.

(Photo of Aidan Hutchinson: David Becker / Getty Images)

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