As always, the mock draft roundup is an overview of the most popular mock drafting publications from the previous week. The focus, of course, is centered on who the analyst pairs with the Lions, and selected reasonings why.
I’ve expanded the groupings this week—after a suggestion from a reader—pulling the quarterbacks projected to the Lions out of the main sections and assigning them their own. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at who was projected to the Lions, starting with the second overall pick.
Lions pick No. 2
Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Eager: “Thibodeaux will likely show out exceptionally well at the combine. This should keep him in the first two picks of the draft despite an injury-riddled 2021 season, especially considering the success of players who either were not as productive as college players in 2020 as they were as pro players in 2021 (e.g., Odafe Oweh) or players who sat out entirely (e.g., Ja’Marr Chase, Micah Parsons and Rashawn Slater).”
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Edwards: “Dan Campbell has openly created a culture of toughness and physicality. Hutchinson serves that interest. Born, raised and developed in Michigan, Hutchinson would elevate those expectations and form a formidable tandem with Romeo Okwara.”
Kyle Hamilton, Safety, Notre Dame, at pick No. 5 after trade
Currently being mocked by Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)
Wilson: “The Lions aren’t necessarily in the market for a QB; Jared Goff has been good at times and this team has plenty of other immediate needs. Among them: the secondary, and only safety Will Harris is under contract after next season. Hamilton, meanwhile, is a 6-4, 220-pound version of Ed Reed — a sideline-to-sideline ball hawk — and that makes him a Day 1 impact player.”
Get used to splitting the EDGE guys, as both are very comparable, and who goes No. 1 will likely depend on who mock drafters think the Jaguars prefer more. Although, Drafttek offers a option not many people are talking about, and one I believe could be a very realistic possibility: the Jaguars selecting Alabama LT Evan Neal. If that happens, and the Lions get their choice of EDGE players, and I still think Hutchinson is the preferred option right now.
Rams pick, variable spots
No. 28: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Currently being mocked by Drafttek staff
Drafttek: “No current Lions’ receiver is comparable in size or skillset, simply put. Currently, Detroit’s tallest receivers are Josh Reynolds (6’3” and 197 pounds) and KhaDarel Hodge (6’2” and 205 pounds). When adding a matchup problem like Burks to the roster, he’s the perfect compliment (sic) to the ascendance of Amon-Ra St. Brown and can provide a little more physicality to the Lions’ passing game.”
No. 28 and 30: Drake London, WR, USC
Weissman: “Before going down with an injury in the middle of the college football season, USC wide receiver Drake London was on pace for a historic season. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound receiver is more than just your typical jump-ball receiver. He runs outstanding routes, is smooth and fluid, and is a monster after the catch. The Lions desperately need more pass-catchers and London can step in and immediately be this team’s No. 1 receiver.”
No. 28 Trayvon Walker, EDGE/DL, Georgia
Currently being mocked by Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)
Edwards: “Detroit is constructing a strength. Theoretically, it could add Aidan Hutchinson and Walker to go along with Romeo Okwara and Trey Flowers. It is certainly reasonable to think that the Lions could move on from Flowers this offseason.”
No. 29: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Currently being mocked by Eric Eager (PFF)
Eager: “Off-ball linebacker is not a valuable position in the NFL for the most part, but this would probably be a value for the Lions at Pick 29, who miss out on some of the great wide receiver talent in the first round. Dean was a leader on the country’s best defense in 2021 and would be a good acquisition for a team that failed on numerous linebackers in the draft and free agency during the Matt Patricia years.”
Despite the Rams’ pick dropping a few spots, the targets remain the same. Burks was part of the roundup two weeks ago, while London and Walker were both part of last week’s roundup. Wide receiver is an obvious need, so now surprises there, and as I talked about last week, Walker’s positional versatility is very appealing.
Dean is the new addition to the list, and if you’re not familiar, he will likely be one of the top-two linebackers selected in this draft cycle (Utah’s Devin Lloyd being the other). Dean is very much a modern-day NFL linebacker who has sideline-to-sideline range, can cover, and would anchor the middle of the defense for half-a-decade plus. So again, the appeal is there.
One of the questions brought up in previous roundups were inquiries about: How many quarterbacks were selected before the one that was paired with the Lions?
With that question in mind, I’ve added another wrinkle to the round up this week and separated the quarterbacks projected to the Lions from the rest of the field, so they can get a bit of extra attention—as the position calls for.
No. 24: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty - James Fragoza (Pro Football Network)
QBs taken ahead: Matt Corral (6), Kenny Pickett (7), Sam Howell (17)
No. 28: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty - Cam Mellor (Pro Football Network)
QBs taken ahead: Matt Corral (7)
No. 28: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty - Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)
QBs taken ahead: Matt Corral (9), Kenny Pickett (10)
No. 28 Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News)
QBs taken ahead: Matt Corral (7), Malik Willis (9), Kenny Pickett (11) Desmond Ridder (15)
As expected, things are all over the map. In Mellor’s mock, Willis is the second quarterback taken all the way down at pick No. 28, while in Iyer’s, Howell is the fifth quarterback taken just one slot later at pick No. 29. In fact, the only constant is Ole Miss’ Corral being the first off the board in all four mocks.
As far as the Lions, the mock I like best is Wilson’s. I would actually prefer the way Mellor’s played out better, but I’m not sold on taking Willis over Pickett at this stage. As far as Iyer’s pick of Howell, I’d ask you to revisit the stance I took when ESPN’s Todd McShay offered a similar scenario in early December.
In a rebuild, you can’t afford to miss on your early picks, and there are too many question marks surrounding Howell for me to support this selection.
Lions pick No. 34
Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Currently being mocked by James Fragoza (Pro Football Network)
Yeah, I’d take it.
Mock Drafts with Trades
Joe Broback (Pro Football Network) projects the Lions to select Clemson CB Andrew Booth second overall, then trade up to pick No. 10 and grab Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave. In the trade, Broback has the Lions giving up picks No. 28 overall, a second-round pick in 2022, and a third-round pick in 2023.
There’s not much I like about this mock draft. I don’t like taking a corner at No. 2, and if I was forced to do so, it’d be Derek Stingley over Booth. Now, I love Olave, but I’m not trading up to No. 10 to get him, and definitely not at that price.