The Detroit Lions 2022 NFL Draft opened and closed with defensive players. Of the eight selections, six were defensive. However, the front office aggressively traded for the 12th overall pick to select wide receiver Jameson Williams from Alabama. The Lions went after players they wanted and needed to take a step forward.
The front office took advantage of a rather weak draft class to grab two impact players in the top 20, then move on to take advantage of high-upside, good-fit players. In the second-year of the Dan Campbell era, the Detroit Lions 2022 NFL Draft features a definitive picture of where Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell wish to take the team.
- First round, 2nd overall: Aidan Hutchinson, Defensive End, Michigan
- First round, 12th overall: Jameson Williams, Wide Receiver, Alabama
- Second round, 46th overall: Joshua Paschal, Defensive End, Kentucky
- Third round, 97th overall: Kerby Joseph, Safety, Illinois
- Fifth round, 177th overall: James Mitchell, Tight End, Virginia Tech
- Sixth round, 188th overall: Malcolm Rodriguez, Linebacker, Oklahoma State
- Sixth Round, 217th overall: James Houston, EDGE, Jackson State University
- Seventh Round, 237th overall: Chase Lucas, Cornerback, Arizona State
Detroit Lions 2022 NFL Draft Grade: 10/10
Detroit Lions 2022 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: Aidan Hutchinson
The Lions secured an anchor on their defensive line by selecting Hutchinson with the second overall pick. Hutchinson is arguably the best player in the draft, and while he may not necessarily have the highest ceiling, his floor is very high. He will make an immediate impact and compete for defensive rookie of the year, and potentially a Pro Bowl selection in the coming years.
Hutchinson is a prototypical defensive end who will run through offensive linemen when they make a mistake. He is relentless in effort and he finds a way into every stage of the game. The Lions anchored an all-down starter who is durable, savvy, and a leader.
Hutchinson also remains in Michigan, having played as a standout at the University of Michigan and Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Michigan. He has been a leader at every stage of his game. In Detroit, he should grow into a future locker room and on the field leader. There is a lot to be excited about with Hutchinson coming to Detroit.
The Head-Scratcher: James Mitchell
Selecting James Mitchell with the 177th overall pick is not much of a surprise or a head-scratcher; but one pick must be a head-scratcher. Detroit needed another tight end behind T.J. Hockenson, and in a weak tight end draft class, Mitchell makes sense as a backup. He is a pass-catcher with decent blocking abilities. He, however, may not play refined enough to make an immediate impact. Mitchell will need to work to see playing time this season. Yet, the most concerning part is Mitchell did not play in 2021, so his evaluation is entirely based on past seasons. Figuratively, the Lions staff saw something in Mitchell that made them believe without that injury he would have been a top-150 player. Yet, the tape does not necessarily show that. Moreover, this is also the second injured player selected in the draft (the first being Jameson Williams at pick 12). Selecting two players with injury questions seems to be a major risk for a team who is need of immediate impact players.
The Surprise: Jameson Williams
The Lions aggressively trading up to select Jameson Williams at 12 was a pleasant surprise. Pundits convinced themselves this would be the slot for the first quarterback (almost all of whom slid quite far). Instead, the Lions went with the smart pick in Williams – a stand out wide receiver recovering from an ACL injury suffered in the National Championship game. While Williams will likely return to play in Week 6, ACL injuries are far from career killers. Williams will be back at full-speed, and the Lions managed to steal a receiver who may have otherwise landed in the top-five selections.
At Alabama, Williams torched defenses after making the catch. He extends all plays by working after the catch to create disruptions and sneak past defenses. Defenders get stuck running around Williams, instead of finding their way to the football. Jared Goff now has another burner to work with, and may have one of the better receiving rooms in the NFL to work with. Defenses will find covering Amon-Ra St. Brown and new signee D.J. Chark difficult, and nearly impossible with Williams now in the mix.
The Steal: Josh Paschal
The first-round defensive ends received a lot of attention in the run up to the draft. Paschal did not receive the due attention and fell to the Lions at pick 46. He knows how to work offensive linemen inside and outside, and serves as a three-down defender. If both Hutchinson and Paschal play as they ought to, the Lions potentially secured the next ten-years of their defensive line.
Paschal is not likely to be a perennial pro-bowl player; he will, however, be a player local fans adore, and who he gives back to. He is the only player to be a captain for three seasons at the University of Kentucky. Paschal is a steal not only for his dedication to finding the ball, but for his dedication to establishing a successful and winning culture. The Lions gained immense value and immediately improved their defense by selecting two solid leaders in Hutchinson and Paschal.
Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: James Houston
James Houston comes from Jackson State, a HBCU, and is the fulfilment of Brad Holmes’ promise to select a player from a HBCU. Selected at 216th overall, Houston will need to fight to find a way onto the roster. However, he has a tenacity to fight to the football and punch that should land him in a rotational position come September. His tenacity occasionally leads to messy play and he is undersized for an edge rusher. Yet, he is an athlete who has a nose for finding the football and playing every down violently. Houston will have exciting moments in training camp that shows an instinctive rusher.
Kerby Joseph (pick 97), Malcolm Rodriguez (pick 188), and Chase Lucas (pick 237) round out the defense selections for the Detroit Lions 2022 NFL Draft. Joseph is a fast safety who hits players with violence, forcing three fumbles last season. Cornerback and safety need further work in Detroit, and while Joseph may not be an every-down starter in the first year, he can compete for it and tracks to be an impact player soon. He simply gets the job done and makes few mistakes.
Ironically Rodriguez played safety before converting to an incredibly quick linebacker. He understands how the game flows, although he is small to play linebacker every-down (5’11”, 232 lbs.). The Lions may use Rodriguez in drop-coverages or convert him to a low-safety roll. Likewise, Lucas is a small but quick corner. He is a solid tackler and does a decent job of tracking the ball. However, his ability to make flash plays that can shift the flow of a game.
The Detroit Lions did not select any other offensive players in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Detroit Lions did, however, sign wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton (Central Michigan) as an undrafted rookie free agent. Pimpleton has the athletics to play receiver, but stands at only 5’8” and 172 lbs.; he is likely to serve on special team as a returner.