The NFL Combine is just over a week away and mock drafts are being produced in volume. This week, there were dozens of websites that produced mocks, and I weeded through them to pick out 28 that came from trusted sources.
For the most part, things played out as expected. The popular candidate to land with the Detroit Lions at No. 2 was still heavily mocked there. The second most popular candidate still got several projections and a sleeper option returned to the roundup.
But there was also a new candidate. Let’s find out who in this week’s Lions 2022 Mock Draft roundup.
Pick No. 2
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Currently being mocked by Danny Kelly (The Ringer), Chad Reuter (NFL.com), Todd McShay (ESPN), Matt Miller (The Draft Scout), Luke Easterling (The Draft Wire), Eric Edholm (Yahoo Sports), Nate Davis (USA Today), Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports), Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports), Josh Edwards (CBS Sports), James Dator (SB Nation), PFN Staff (Pro Football Network), Bryan Fischer (Anthon Sports), Cole Thompson (SI: Falcons), Brian Johannes (The Huddle Report), Brian Martin (Blogging the Boys), Scott Bogman (Fantasy Pros), Mike Fanelli (Fantasy Pros), Eddie Brown (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Kelly: “Hutchinson fits the Lions like a glove both in terms of Detroit’s needs and the team’s identity. He gives this team a foundational, blue-chip pass rusher to rebuild their defensive line around, and he’s a kneecap-biting berserker who should boost the intensity level of the entire defense.”
Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Weissman: “All I know is Thibodeaux has been a dominant force when on the field and possesses the necessary length, power, and raw athletic ability to consistently get to the quarterback at the next level. While the media questions his football character and overall attitude, just know that Thibodeaux had multiple opportunities to opt-out of this season, even after being hurt twice, yet he chose to gut it out for his team. I have a feeling Dan Campbell will appreciate that fact.”
Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Renner: “Hamilton isn’t just the most impressive safety prospect by far; he’s one of the most impressive prospects in the entire draft. The fact that he plays a low-paid position like safety isn’t a big factor in my eyes, given how versatile he is at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds.”
Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
by Sawyer Hicks (Draft ID)
Hicks: “Willis is the best QB in this class and Dan Campbell was able to get a closer look while coaching him in the Senior Bowl. Willis may not be the most NFL ready out of the class, but he does have the most arm talent and the highest ceiling. Coaches and scouts also bragged about his coach-ability all week in Mobile, which could give them the confidence to pull the trigger on their long term solution at QB.”
If you missed it earlier this week, our own Ryan Mathews explored why, if the Lions fell in love with a quarterback in this draft class, it would make sense for them to draft him at No. 2 and make sure they were able to land them.
The big caveats here are: is there a quarterback that the Lions love? And is that quarterback Willis?
As we will see in the next section, there are patterns emerging amongst the quarterback rankings, but there is still no consensus top option, and Willis in particular, is not only the most popular but the one with the widest range of first-round projections.
I changed this section up this week to better illustrate the range at which the quarterbacks were being projected. Among the 28 mock drafts this week, 11 had the Lions taking a quarterback in the first round. As mentioned above, Willis was the only one projected to be the second overall pick, but he was also projected by two other mock drafters to land with the Lions at pick No. 32.
Malik Willis, Liberty (2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 11, 11, 17, 20, 32, 32)
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh (6, 6, 9, 9, 11, 11, 11, 11, 11, 18)
Matt Corral, Mississippi (11, 11, 11, 15, 18, 18, 18, 18, 18, 32)
by Nate Davis (USA Today)
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati (18, 32, 32, 32, 32)
Sam Howell, North Carolina (10, 18, 20, 32, 32, 32)
- Willis was the only quarterback prospect in all 11 mocks
- Pickett was in every mock but one, never dropped below No. 18, and was never linked to Lions
- Corral was also included in all but one, but he failed to crack the top-10 in any of them
- Ridder and Howell are in a close battle for QB4
- Carson Strong, who most view as QB6, failed to be mocked in any of these projections
Mocking a quarterback to the Lions is as popular as ever, but I’m still not sold that they’ll go that route whether it’s a No. 2 or No. 32. Willis, Pickett, and Corral are the most intriguing to me, but I’m not sold any of the three would even be there to consider. Ridder and Howell have plenty to like, but they also have more question marks for me. My gut feeling remains that the Lions will opt to continue building the roster and seeing what they have in Jared Goff, then looking to draft a quarterback next year, if they feel they need to upgrade.
Pick No. 32 (non-QBs)
Drake London, WR, USC - by Brentley Weissman (The Draft Network), Eric Edholm (Yahoo Sports), Brian Johannes (The Huddle Report)
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State - by Matt Miller (The Draft Scout), Josh Edwards (CBS Sports), Eddie Brown (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State - by Mike Fanelli (Fantasy Pros)
David Bell, WR, Purdue - by Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports), Ben Natan (Bleeding Green Nation), Draft Tek Staff
George Pickens, WR, Georgia - by Cole Thompson (SI: Falcons)
Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State - by Brian Bosarge (Draft Countdown)
Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson - by BR Scouting Department (Bleacher Report)
Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC - by James Dator (SB Nation)
Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah - by Carmen Vitali (Buccaneers.com)
Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia - by Rob Rang (Fox Sports)
Lewis Cine, S, Georgia - by PFN Staff (Pro Football Network)
Wide receiver remains a very popular option for the Lions at the end of round one, but I feel that some mock drafters were simply slotting guys in that they like instead of pairing one with the Lions. The double-dip at EDGE continues to happen and it continues to mystify me. If either linebacker is there, that could be a massive steal. The value at safety is legitimate.
Mock Draft Spotlight
Let’s wrap up with a new segment to the roundup: Mock Draft Spotlight. For this section, I’ll take a closer look at one mock draft from the week—this week it’s Chad Reuter’s (NFL.com) three-round mock draft—to see the quality of players the Lions could land.
Pick No. 2 Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Pick No. 32 Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Pick No. 34, Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
Pick No. 66, David Bell, WR, Purdue
Pick No. 97, Troy Anderson, LB, Montana State
The Lions walk away with a solid three starters, a potential future quarterback, and an increasingly popular linebacker. Sounds good right? Well, I had a few options I would have considered at each spot.
I’m solid with, and actually prefer, the Hutchinson pick, but I feel like there were a few options at No. 32 I would have preferred. First, bumping Hill up into the first round would’ve been fine by me. I also would have considered, Chris Olave (WR, Ohio State), Jahan Dotson (WR, Penn State), or Travon Walker (DL, Georgia). If they walk out of the first 34 picks with Hutchinson, Hill, and Olave, that’s a big win.
That also gives you options to go a lot of different ways at No. 66. Maybe they still like a receiver and double-dip by taking Bell or Senior Bowl stud Calvin Austin or Alabama’s John Metchie. They could also look at tight ends Isaiah Likely and Greg Dulchich. Texas A&M’s defensive tackle DeMarvin Leal is available in this mock and at this point would be a steal, as would Wyoming linebacker Chad Muma.
I guess the point I am making is, if the Lions don’t grab a quarterback, they could walk out of the first 66 picks with potentially four starters and still have pick No. 97 and all their Day 3 picks in their pocket.