Every so often during the offseason, NFL Draft content hits a lull. It’s been a month since it was established that the Detroit Lions would be picking second in the 2022 NFL Draft and we aren’t quite at Senior Bowl week yet.
Last week, several big-name analysts released their latest projections, leaving this week a bit barren of content. As a result, several mock drafters are left to adjust their projection to follow the top analysts, regurgitating their previous content, or being bold for the sake of being bold.
So, instead of sifting through the fallout, this week’s Mock Draft Roundup will focus on 10 reputable draft analysts, with a focus on patterns that have emerged at the top of the draft.
Scenarios at the top of the draft
Three main patterns have emerged with the top picks. The first two highlight the prevailing school of thought that there are two top edge rushers and they will be selected with the top two picks.
No. 1 Jaguars select Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
No. 2 Lions select Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
This scenario is currently being mocked by Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports) and Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News).
No. 1 Jaguars select Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
No. 2 Lions select Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
This scenario is currently being mocked by Byran Perez (The Draft Network), Josh Edwards (CBS Sports), Cam Mellor (Pro Football Network), and Shane Hallem (Draft Countdown).
But there has been a new, third idea injected into the draft community of late and that is that the Jacksonville Jaguars will take an offensive tackle first overall, leaving the Lions with their choice of edge rusher at pick No. 2.
No. 1 Jaguars select Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
No. 2 Lions select Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
This scenario is currently being mocked by Trevor Sikkema (PFF), Bucky Brooks (NFL.com), Luke Easterling (The Draft Wire), and Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports).
Most analysts (including all this weeks) are projecting, that if the Jaguars go offensive tackle first then it will be Neal from Alabama. An athletic freak for certain, Neal has been a popular choice for this approach, but he’s not the only tackle in consideration. Last week, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler suggested the top pick would be NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu, who has slowly been getting the recognition he deserves as a potential candidate for the No. 1 overall pick. As we move through the offseason, don't be surprised if (when?) Ekwonu rises to the OT1 spot.
Which way the Jaguars go is an interesting debate. On the edge, they have established rusher Dwayne Smoot, as well as two first-rounders from 2020 (K’Lavon Chaisson) and 2019 (Josh Allen). At offensive tackle, they have three former second-rounders (Cam Robinson, Jawaan Taylor, and Walker Little), all drafted in the past five seasons. At this time, I think most mock drafting trends are shifting towards offensive tackle because Jacksonville’s starting left tackle, Robinson, is set to be a free agent. If he returns to Jacksonville, it could shake things up.
With regards to the Lions, in all three scenarios, Detroit lands an edge rusher. And while the Lions landed Hutchinson in eight of the above 10 mock drafts, the debate between which edge is better is actually much closer, as Hutchinson is only off the board ahead of Thibodeaux in six of the 10.
I expect these three trends to continue over the next month, but when March hits, and the Combine and free agency roll around, it’ll be interesting to see if things continue to play out this way.
No. 31 Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh - by Cam Mellor (Pro Football Network)
QB order: Matt Corral (9), Sam Howell (20)
No. 31 Malik Willis, Liberty - by Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)
QB order: Corral (9), Pickett (18)
No. 31 Sam Howell, North Carolina - by Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News)
QB order: Willis (6), Corral (9), Pickett (11), Desmond Ridder (26)
No. 31 Sam Howell, North Carolina - by Shane Hallem (Draft Countdown)
QB order: Pickett (11), Willis (18)
The Lions continue to be paired with a quarterback with their second first-round pick, but as always, the consensus order of preference is all over the map.
Rams pick No. 31 (non-QBs)
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State - Byran Perez (The Draft Network)
Drake London, WR, USC - by Luke Easterling (The Draft Wire)
David Bell, WR, Purdue - by Bucky Brooks (NFL.com), Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports)
Travon Walker, DL, Georgia - by Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)
Jaquan Brisker, Safety, Penn State - by Trevor Sikkema (PFF)
Receivers continue to be paired with the Lions, and Walker shows up once again, but Brisker is a new pairing and one that makes a lot of sense for the Lions and their scheme. Here’s what I had to say about Brisker when I profiled him during the season:
The JUCO transfer is in his second year as a starter and he plays in a variety of spots (two-deep, single-high, and occasionally in the slot) for the Nittany Lions. While he fills roles all over the field, he is best suited in two-deep zones, in the box, and near the line of scrimmage where his tackling skills can be utilized. He’s not a traditional ballhawk but he does have multiple recent interceptions where his instincts we on display.