Each week, draft websites across the internet release mock drafts, doing their best to create enjoyable content for the draft community. Unfortunately, reading the same projections from the same analysts can get a bit stagnant during certain times of the offseason, but every so often, some of the big-name analysts drop a mock draft that shakes things up.
This week, Dane Brugler (The Athletic), Daniel Jeremiah (NFL), Mel Kiper (ESPN), and Kyle Crabbs (The Draft Network) all dropped their latest mock drafts. While Kiper didn’t shake things up much, both Brugler and Jeremiah projected a growing trend of pairing the Jacksonville Jaguars with an offensive tackle with the first overall pick, Brugler going with North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu and Jeremiah landing on Alabama’s Evan Neal. And when it came to their pick for the Detroit Lions and the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NFL draft both landed on the same player for the general manager Brad Holmes and coach Dan Campbell.
Lions pick No. 2
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Currently being mocked by Dane Brugler (The Athletic), Daniel Jeremiah (NFL), Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports), Josh Edwards (CBS Sports), Nick Simon (Draft Kings), Cam Mellor (Pro Football Network), Tyler Olsen (Pro Football Network), Scott Bogman (Fantasy Pros)
Brugler: “Hutchinson isn’t on the same level as the Bosa brothers — he doesn’t have the same bend or arc skills. However, there are similarities when you talk about their quickness, power and skilled hand play to defeat blockers and disrupt the pocket. Hutchinson can win in multiple ways and is wired in a way that will appeal to head coach Dan Campbell.”
Jeremiah: “The Lions shouldn’t waste any time turning in the card if the Jags pass on Hutchinson. The Heisman Trophy finalist is a perfect fit for their needs and the culture they are building.”
Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Currently being mocked by Mel Kiper (ESPN), Kyle Crabbs (The Draft Network), Austin Gayle (PFF), Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports), Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News)
Kiper: “It’s a no-brainer to take Thibodeaux or Hutchinson here, whoever is still on the board. Thibodeaux, who was a No. 1 overall high school recruit, has elite upside. His get-off at the snap is lightning-quick, and though he’s still developing secondary pass-rush moves, he doesn’t need them when he can blow by offensive tackles before they’re out of their stance. Thibodeaux had half as many sacks (seven) as Hutchinson this season, but he had the second-best pressure rate in the country (17.8%). Charles Harris, who led Detroit with 7.5 sacks this season, is a free agent, which makes this even more of a problem position.”
Crabbs: “Unlike the Jaguars, the Lions DO have the temptation of drafting a quarterback. But I just can’t imagine Detroit, who has largely accepted the magnitude of the rebuild in front of them, bypassing on an elite physical talent like Kayvon Thibodeaux in favor of this year’s quarterbacks. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and Detroit would be wise to act like it by simply drafting the best player available at a primary position. That’s Thibodeaux.”
Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Currently being mocked by Brian Bosarge (Draft Countdown)
Bosarge has Jacksonville taking Thibodeaux and the Lions passing on Hutchinson in favor of Hamilton.
If you’ve been reading these roundups for the past few weeks, you’ll recall that I’m on board with the thinking that Jacksonville will probably look to land a left tackle over an edge rusher after spending two first-round picks on the edge in recent years.
I also side with Brugler and Jeremiah that given the choice, Hutchinson makes the most sense for the Lions coaching staff and what they are hoping to accomplish. It’s also worth noting that all four analysts had Hutchinson going ahead of Thibodeaux in their mocks.
Finally, the Kyle Hamilton talk isn’t going away, and realistically it shouldn’t, but I did a deep dive into positional value and drafting from the No. 2 spot, that may help explain why I believe most analysts will be pairing the Lions with an EDGE rusher.
No. 28 Malik Willis, Liberty - by Daniel Jeremiah (NFL)
QBs selected ahead: Kenny Pickett (9), Matt Corral (11)
No. 28 Sam Howell, North Carolina - by Mel Kiper (ESPN)
QBs selected ahead: Malik Willis (11), Kenny Pickett (18), Matt Corral (20)
No. 28 Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati - by Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News)
QBs selected ahead: Malik Willis (6), Matt Corral (9), Pickett (11)
No. 28 Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati - by Scott Bogman (Fantasy Pros)
QBs selected ahead: Matt Corral (5), Kenny Pickett (6)
No. 28 Carson Strong, Nevada - by Tyler Olsen (Pro Football Network)
QBs selected ahead: Sam Howell (11), Matt Corral (20)
Here’s where I diverge from Jeremiah a bit. At this time, I’m not a fan of taking a QB with this pick, even though I do like Willis’ upside. Also, I wasn’t a fan of paring Howell with the Lions here when ESPN’s Todd McShay did it, and I haven’t changed my mind watching Kiper follow suit.
Among the top analysts, I would prefer the selections of Brugler and Crabbs...
Rams pick No. 28 (non-QBs)
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State - by Dane Brugler (The Athletic)
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State - by Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)
Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama - by Brian Bosarge (Draft Countdown)
Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas - by Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)
David Bell, WR, Purdue - by Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports)
Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M - by Nick Simon (Draft Kings)
David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan - by Austin Gayle (PFF)
Devin Lloyd, ILB, Utah - by Kyle Crabbs (The Draft Network)
TRADE: Pick No. 28 for picks No. 37 and No. 68 - by Cam Mellor (Pro Football Network)
Before I get back to my review of the top analysts, I wanted to point out a few new ideas that landed with this pick over the past week. This is the first time we have seen a guard, and if the Lions move on from Halapoulivaati Vaitai then I would understand this pick, as Green is probably IOL2 or 3 in this class, but for now, I’m not a fan. I was also not a big fan of PFF’s Gayle pairing the Lions with Ojabo here. Now, this has nothing to do with Ojabo, he is a definite value at this spot, but more a knock on the fact that Gayle had the Lions picking Thibodeaux with the second overall pick and I think double-dipping on the EDGE with the first two picks is excessive knowing what the Lions will likely have at the position.
The trade makes sense if you look at the trade value charts, and dropping nine spots to pick up an early third is a nice return, but I probably would have preferred a second-round pick in next year's draft instead of No 68.
Alright, back on track.
Brugler gives the Lions one of the best route runners and separators in this class. This would be a home run pick at this spot for me. Olave would bring the Lions a position versatile receiver, who can stretch the field and take pressure off Amon-Ra St. Brown and T.J. Hockenson—yes, please.
I could also be talked into Crabbs’ selection of Lloyd. An insane MIKE linebacker with power, sideline-to-sideline range, and incredible instincts for the position. Plus, if you add in who Crabbs thinks the Lions would take at No 34, all the better...
Lions pick No. 34
Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn - by Dane Brugler (The Athletic)
Drake London, WR, USC - by Kyle Crabbs (The Draft Network)
Okay, let’s compare all three of their picks.
No. 2 Hutchinson, EDGE
No. 28 Olave, WR
No. 34 McCreary, CB
No. 2 Thibodeaux, EDGE
No. 28 Lloyd, ILB
No. 34 London, WR
Both drafts bring back a solid return and I could make an argument for why each is the better option. But that speaks to a larger point. The Lions are likely going to land three picks in the top 34 picks (assuming they don't trade) and that's a huge opportunity to take some major steps in the rebuild.