Detroit Lions Should Do the Right Thing in the 2022 NFL Draft

Let's start here, the Lions are not going to trade down from #2 unless they give the pick away and I don't think anybody would be happy with that.

The only time teams want to trade up that high is for a QB and there just isn't a QB like that in this draft, and if there is a surprise QB, the Lions sure as hell better not consider trading away a chance for a franchise QB. However, the chances one of these QB prospects is worthy is about 1 out of a 100

So, if they are not trading down, what will they do with the pick and it seems pretty obvious, they will add a defensive piece because there just isn't any offensive skill player worthy of that pick and the Lions are not going to draft another OT. Wait, another blue chip OL player, say another OT, move Decker to OG, man this could get scary good.

Stop it Blue, they are not drafting another OT.

So, what's left and there are 2 ways they can go on defense. They could draft the local hero Hutchinson or the other top edge guy, Sewell's ex-teammate Oregon Duck, Kayvon Thibodeaux. Either would add pass rush and more pass rush is always a good thing in the NFL. Neither is a true apex pass rusher, but nothing wrong with awful damn good when it comes to pass rushers.

However, there is another path, a true Apex player they could draft and that is the Golden Domer Safety, Kyle Hamilton, he just might be a real game changer and boy, do the Lions need a Safety and even more, a game changer.

The Lions really need a Safety more than an EDGE player, they have options at EDGE, but the roster has little for Safety and that's even if they bring back Walker.

The Lions have options on the EDGE, they have Romeo Okwara coming back who had 10 sacks in 2020 and the Lions just gave a nice contract to. They have Romeo's little brother, Julian, that should promise when he could stay on the field. They could even keep Trey Flowers who is coming back from injury but was a very good player before the injury filled 2020 and no reason to believe he won't be just as good this year, not worth what Quinn paid him, but very good, nevertheless. The question isn't is he worth the 23-million-dollar cap hit he carries in 2022 and clearly, he is not, however over 12 million of that is money already spent, the difference between keeping him and cutting or trading him is around 12.5 million and Flowers might be worth that. The team voting him a team captain says a lot about Trey, he is a pro's pro, someone that always gives 110%

Maybe even better is they should have the inside track to signing Charles Harris. Harris was last year's reclamation find, a low risk, prove it signing that played like his former 1st round draft value, Lions should cash in on that find and sign Harris to a multi-year contract, Sportec says his market value is a 4-year contract for 35-million and I am all in on that, do it now Holmes, show prospective bargain Free Agents that they can come here and if they prove it, the Lions will back up their end of it. It's easier to sell someone like Taven Bryan or B.J. Hill to come to Detroit and get their career back on track if you can point to Charles Harris cashing in a prove it contract with these coaches.

Plus, it's a pretty good draft for EDGE players, there will be good prospects they could take later in the 1st round and really, they could wait even longer to add a good EDGE prospect, it wouldn't even be a disaster if they didn't draft an EDGE player at all. I'm not saying they shouldn't, just saying they can put some pretty good EDGE players out there and maybe a day three pick to develop might be the way to go with EDGE this year.
Safety however is a totally different situation for the Lions. The one good Safety they had in 2021 was Tracy Walker and he is a Free Agent. He had a nice year after a terrible 2020, it appears that the new coaching staff and scheme fits him well as he has become the QB of the Secondary. Walker is saying all the right things, he wants to stay and if the money fits, the Lions should reward him with a multi-year contract. He shouldn't get top Safety money in the 12 million a year range, but he should get that next level money of 6-8 mil a year.
However, even if you bring back Walker, who are you going to play next to him. Safety is a huge part of this defense, and the options are almost non-existent on the roster. Last year's starter was Dean Marlowe who is also a Free Agent, but he sure didn't set the world on fire and being over 30, it's not likely he gets any better, Marlowe is depth and special teamer at best and doubtful the Lions bring him back. After that they have Will Harris that in year three of his career, he might have finally shown some value as a depth piece, able to be deep back-up at any position in the Secondary and a solid special teamer, but there is no way he should be considered to be a starting Safety.
No doubt the Lions have a massive need for a high-quality Safety and maybe two if they don't sign Walker.
So how would Hamilton fit if they brought back Walker. We know Walker is not great as a Strong Safety, he is much better suited to play Free Safety where he can keep everything in front of him and direct the Secondary. Now I realize Hamilton is considered to be a Free Safety, however that's just pigeon-holing him into what we think of when we think NFL Safeties and we shouldn't limit Hamilton like that. With Walker over the top, it leaves Hamilton free to roam the second level, where he can do whatever Defensive Coordinator Glenn needs for the game plan each week.
Hamilton is more than a Safety, he is a true elite player you stick in the middle of your defense and let him make plays. You need to cover an elite TE, Hamilton can do that, you need to cover an elite Slot, Hamilton can do that, you need to shut down a running attack, Hamilton can help do that. But even that doesn't cover all that Hamilton brings to a team, his instincts and athletic ability are elite level and with the competitive drive that separates the all-time greats from the very good. With a player like Hamilton you want to keep your options open, you want to let him prowl and not be worried about being the last line of the defense, he can do that, but it limits his value if that's all you want out of him. Let Walker direct the Secondary from the back end and let Hamilton be a difference maker and match-up eraser where he is needed. One week it might be a TE like Travis Kelce, next week it might be a Slot receiver like Adam Theilen, the versatility you need out of a Strong Safety is tremendous

This reminds me of the 2010 Lions draft in some ways. Back then it was crazy to draft a DT that high, I remember that argument, a DT can't make that kind of impact stuck in the middle of the lines. Boy, has that narrative changed since then, now DTs are every bit as valuable as any position other than QB, Aaron Donald isn't the only DT changing offensive game plans, Chris Jones, Deforrest Buckner and the list goes on, the value we put on DT has changed dramatically since 2010, now I might want an elite DT over an elite DE, that interior pass rush is hard for offenses to deal with.

I say all of this because I see the Safety position going through the same process, used to be you got your Safeties late first round, even second round, but that's changing, Earl Thomas was the 10th overall pick, and he was the heartbeat of the Legion of Doom. Eric Barry was the 5th overall pick in 2010. Mark Barron 7th overall in 2011 and both were huge impact players before their injuries. Minkah Fitzpatrick was the 11th overall pick in 2018, Jamal Adams 6th overall in 2017 that are two Safeties good enough that Pittsburg and Seattle coveted enough to trade for and pay them because they know to have a top-level defense in the current NFL, you need that presence in the middle of your defense.

In 2010 the Lions had the 2nd overall pick and they went a little against the grain by drafted a DT, the need for the Lions was so great and the talent level of Suh was so high, it was the right choice, despite the Lions botching his future, Suh should have been a fixture in the middle of the Lions DL for 12 years, the defensive equative of Megatron or Barry.
In 2022 the Lions have the 2nd overall pick again and they are faced with a similar decision, do they go with the chalk that says you draft EDGE over Safety or do they take the better player that fills a bigger need by drafting Kyle Hamilton. For my money, the choice is obvious.

So many of the great defenses of the last 20 years have had an elite Safety, it's almost silly that we don't consider what Hamilton does for this team. I know EDGE is supposed to be more valuable, but there is a tremendous value to have a chess piece like Hamilton patrolling the 2nd level.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.