On Tuesday, ESPN’s Mel Kiper and The Ringer’s Danny Kelly released their latest mock drafts, and each slotted the Detroit Lions with the same positions in the first round—though their approaches were the exact opposite.
Both analysts projected Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson to go first overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, then had the Lions drafting a quarterback and a safety in the first round. The difference was in the order they were selected, as Kiper opted for a safety early and a quarterback late, while Kelly flipped it and had Detroit grabbing a quarterback with their first selection.
So that got us thinking. If the Lions were absolutely going to draft those two positions, which order would provide Detroit with maximum value?
Let’s let the analysts share their reasoning for why they made their picks and then you can vote in the poll and discuss in the chat.
Pick No. 2: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux will be in play here, but the top offensive tackles aren’t an option; the Lions are set with Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell. There’s more risk with Thibodeaux than I’d like for a No. 2 pick, because there’s no guarantee he’ll grow into his immense upside. I’d prefer a safer pick here, and I’ve come around to the fit of Hamilton in Detroit, which my guy Todd McShay has pushed for a little bit. Hamilton is a playmaking safety in a 6-foot-4 frame who would immediately raise the ceiling of a defense that has struggled for years. He can play in the box, out of the slot and as a center fielder. Normally I’d say this is too high for a safety, but Hamilton is a unique and special defender. Detroit brought back safety Tracy Walker, but he could play with Hamilton.
Pick No. 32: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
I’m going to stick with Corral to the Lions, but I keep hearing it’s not out of the question that he is the first quarterback off the board. He didn’t work out at the combine, so teams haven’t gotten a look at him since his ankle injury in early January. He’s going to throw for scouts at his pro day Wednesday, and he could create some buzz there. He throws a ball with some zip and is extremely tough, though he doesn’t have a huge frame (6-foot-2, 212 pounds). The biggest question revolves around the offense he ran in college; his coaches didn’t ask him to make many reads. There will be an adjustment in the NFL. For the Lions, I just don’t see Jared Goff as the future. This allows them to get a potential quarterback of the future on a team-friendly five-year contract.
Pick No. 2: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
The Lions addressed their wide receiver group in free agency, signing D.J. Chark to a one-year deal while retaining Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds. Those moves should make for a softer landing spot for Willis, who offers unmatched upside in this quarterback class but may need time to develop. Detroit has Jared Goff as a bridge in 2022.
Pick No. 32: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
After re-signing Tracy Walker to a three-year deal, the Lions keep adding to the safety spot here by selecting Hill. An explosive and versatile do-it-all defender, the former Wolverines star is exactly the type of playmaker Detroit’s defense needs if it’s going to slow down Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, and Justin Fields in the division.
So there you have it. Now it’s time to vote for and discuss which combination you’d prefer.
Which mock draft do you prefer?
This poll is closed
Mel Kipers’s Hamilton and Corral
Danny Kelly’s Willis and Hill