The Senior Bowl is celebrated as an event to showcase some of the top talents in this year's draft class. And while that is very much true, there is another aspect of the gathering in Mobile, Alabama that doesn't get as much attention: almost every team is in attendance and people like to talk.
Inevitably, rumors start up and it’s not long before they’re leaked to the media. One of the latest rumors being circulated through the national media questions whether Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux is actually worth a top-five pick.
“I heard a lot about Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, including concerns that he just doesn’t play with the same fire as some other top prospects,” ESPN’s Todd McShay reported at the Senior Bowl. “His ceiling is high, but the floor is lower than what you want for a top-five pick. And based on a handful of conversations, it wouldn’t shock me if Thibodeaux fell out of the top five. Speaking of which, it was very apparent this week that the top of the draft isn’t nearly as set as it normally is at this point. Picks at the top of the first round might be a little more based on team flavor than recent years.”
Thibodeaux responded via Twitter:
Believe in yourself, even if you’re the only one ♂️ https://t.co/YpFZarHgNQ— Kayvon Thibodeaux (@kayvont) February 6, 2022
There is no doubting Thibodeaux believes in himself, and he absolutely should. He is currently the top player on the following big boards: CBS Sports, Danny Kelly of The Ringer, and Bleacher Report. He is also the No. 2 player on Pro Football Focus big board, behind just Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson.
Unfortunately for Thibodeaux, the criticism didn't stop at McShay this week, as NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah went on a PFF podcast with Ari Meirov and also noted that he didn’t have him as a top-five player on his big board:
Could Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux slip in the draft? "I think it's absolutely in the realm of possibility he doesn't go in the first 4-5 picks. ... He battled an ankle injury, but he's a bit stiff, he's not as big as everyone expected, and the effort wasn't great. ~ @MoveTheSticks pic.twitter.com/XWK5sItREz— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) February 9, 2022
It’s hard to say how much influence these reports had on this week’s mock drafts, but some of them appeared to buy into the rumors, and there was once again a strong push towards the Jaguars taking an offensive tackle with the first pick, and the Lions jumping on the opportunity to select Hutchinson.
Let’s take a closer look, in this week’s Detroit Lions 2022 Mock Draft roundup.
Lions pick No. 2
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Currently being mocked by Lance Zierlein (NFL.com), Joe Marino (The Draft Network), Luke Easterling (The Draft Wire), Kyle Stackpole (CBS Sports), Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports), Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports), Josh Wilson (CBS Sports), Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News), Shane Hallam (Draft Countdown), Scott Bair (AtlantaFalcons.com), Joe Tansey (Bleacher Report), Doug Hyde (DraftTek), Jeff Bell (Fantasy Pros), Chris Franklin (NJ.com), Eddie Brown (San Diego Union-Tribune), Jacob Infante (Windy City Gridiron), Harris Oates (Draft ID)
Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Currently being mocked by Jordan Reid (ESPN), Dalton Miller (Pro Football Network), Kristopher Knox (Bleacher Report), Zach Buckley (Bleacher Report), Nick Simon/Chet Gresham (Draft Kings), Zack Patraw (SI: NFL Draft)
Derek Stingley, CB, LSU
Currently being mocked by Seth Galina (PFF)
Hutchinson has recently been the favorite to land with the Lions in recent weeks, but this week saw more projections than the typical amount. Thibodeaux still has his supporters—including from McShay’s running mate at ESPN: Reid—and we are still seeing defensive backs paired with Detroit, but Hutchinson is becoming the overwhelming favorite at this stage.
Malik Willis (11), Matt Corral (18), Kenny Pickett (32)
by Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)
Matt Corral (11), Sam Howell (20), Kenny Pickett (32)
by Eddie Brown (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Malik Willis (11), Kenny Pickett (20), Desmond Ridder (27), Matt Corral (32)
by Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News)
Malik Willis (11), Sam Howell (18), Kenny Pickett (20), Matt Corral (32)
by Jeff Bell (Fantasy Pros)
Kenny Pickett (9), Malik Willis (11), Desmond Ridder (32)
by Kristopher Knox (Bleacher Report)
Malik Willis (11), Kenny Pickett (20), Matt Corral (27), Sam Howell (32)
by Dalton Miller (Pro Football Network)
Malik Willis (11), Matt Corral (18), Kenny Pickett (20), Sam Howell (32)
by Shane Hallam (Draft Countdown)
Kenny Pickett (9), Malik Willis (11), Matt Corral (18), Sam Howell (32)
by Joe Tansey (Bleacher Report)
It’s been a while since the Lions have been paired with a quarterback at the top of the draft, but there are still several mock drafters that believe the Lions won't leave the first round without one. Which quarterback that is, remains a crapshoot.
Non-Lions side note: I find it interesting that all but one of the above mock drafts had Malik Willis landing at No. 11 to Washington. Could be something to pay attention to.
Rams pick No. 31/32 (non-QBs)
Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State - by Jordan Reid (ESPN), Joe Marino (The Draft Network), Zach Buckley (Bleacher Report), Nick Simon/Chet Gresham (Draft Kings), Jacob Infante (Windy City Gridiron)
Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama - by Luke Easterling (The Draft Wire)
Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama - by Kyle Stackpole (CBS Sports)
DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M - by Harris Oates (Draft ID)
Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia - by Josh Wilson (CBS Sports), Doug Hyde (DraftTek)
Quay Walker, LB, Georgia - by Lance Zierlein (NFL.com)
Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington - Chris Franklin (NJ.com)
Kyler Gordon, CB Washington - Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports)
Daxton Hill, S, Michigan - by Scott Bair (AtlantaFalcons.com), Zack Patraw (SI: NFL Draft)
Lewis Cine, S, Georgia - by Seth Galina (PFF)
Lots of variety this week in the non-quarterbacks section, with Dotson, Dean, and Hill all receiving multiple projections to the Lions. All three of those players would be instant starters on the Lions if they were available at pick No. 32. Williams is also nice value at this spot because he could arguably be the best receiver in this class, but his ACL tear in the National Championship game could result in him dropping, as he may miss the start the season. Cine is another name to keep in mind here as the sweet spot for the top safeties in this class (outside of Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton) will be late first/early second round.