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Wednesday open thread: If Aidan Hutchinson goes No. 1, who should the Detroit Lions draft?

With it now less likely the Jaguars pick an offensive tackle, what should the Lions do if the top EDGE prospect is gone?

Oregon State v Oregon Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

For the past few months, many have been under the assumption the Jacksonville Jaguars would be taking an offensive tackle with their first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Protecting franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence should be a primary goal for that franchise, and there are a couple of offensive tackles who are worthy of that pick.

However, on Tuesday, the Jaguars used their franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson. It’s a curious move if the Jaguars intend on taking an offensive tackle at the top of the draft, because now they’re paying Robinson $16.7 million for a season in which he’d either switch to right tackle or back up their first overall pick. It’s not out of the question that the Jaguars still bulk up their offensive line, because right tackle is a problem, too, but it certainly seems like their odds of going offensive tackle have gone significantly down—and that is further corroborated by the shifting betting odds on what the Jaguars will do.

Michigan edge defender Aidan Hutchinson is now the favorite to be the first overall pick, and that obviously has big implications on the Detroit Lions. Not only was Hutchinson the most-commonly mocked player to the Lions by draft analysts, but he was the preferred choice by a majority of Lions fans, too.

Now we’re faced with a very real possibility that Detroit will not have a shot at Hutchinson. So let’s start talking about contingency plans.

Today’s Question of the Day is:

If Hutchinson is gone, who should the Lions pick at No.2?

My answer: Let’s run through the candidates really quickly.

EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux - During most of the college football season, Thibodeaux was considered the consensus best player in the draft. He’s got all the physical and athletic traits necessary for the next level, but questions about his motivation and love of football have been slowly creeping into the conversation.

S Kyle Hamilton - Many believe Hamilton is the best prospect in this year’s draft class, but the main debate for the Lions is whether the positional value of safety is worth it this high in the draft. Hamilton’s 40-yard dash was pedestrian, but when you consider Hamilton’s entire athletic profile, that 40 time just doesn’t really matter.

QB Malik Willis - Willis is easily the most risky choice, but also the one with the biggest potential payoff. The Lions need a quarterback, and Willis brings sky-high potential with athleticism and a rocket arm. Some believe after playing at a simple offense in LIberty, Willis could take a year or even two to develop, but the Lions do have the luxury of time with Jared Goff already nearly guaranteed to stay on the roster for at least one more year.

EDGE Travon Walker - One of the late risers in the draft, Walker is also a player you’d be picking based on potential. His college tape at Georgia wasn’t bad, but given his surrounding cast, he was not put in a lot of positions to pass rush, so he remains under-developed in that aspect of his game. But he has every possible athletic trait you could want in an edge defender. His versatility as an interior defender or even someone who can drop in coverage should add to his value.

QB Kenny Pickett - Questions about whether someone with his uniquely small hands can succeed in the NFL linger, but Pickett has the most polished, ready-to-go tape in the draft class. He also brings plenty of athleticism to be a dual-threat quarterback, something that almost seems necessary in the game today.

For now, let’s leave the list at that, though you could certainly make an argument for your favorite receiver in this draft, perhaps another quarterback, or if you’re feeling frisky, you could add the unbelievably athletic nose tackle Jordan Davis.

My pick amongst the group is Thibodeaux. I think we’ve reached a point of draft fatigue with this guy, and we’re at the point where nitpicking a prospect is at a fever pitch. I just don’t buy the character concerns right now. This isn’t a guy who rocked the boat at Oregon or got into off-field issues. He’s a player that, at times, played through injury, and was considered one of the best players in football for the majority of 2021.

He’s an immediate upgrade over any edge on the Lions’ roster, and brings the type of athletic explosion that group has been missing. The rest of these players are good, and I’d be happy with most of them, but this is a relatively easy pick for me.

Your turn.

Poll

Who should the Lions pick if Aidan Hutchinson is gone?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Kayvon Thibodeaux
    (2157 votes)
  • 20%
    Kyle Hamilton
    (1065 votes)
  • 9%
    Malik Willis
    (509 votes)
  • 15%
    Travon Walker
    (803 votes)
  • 0%
    Kenny Pickett
    (41 votes)
  • 8%
    Jordan Davis
    (427 votes)
  • 4%
    Other
    (249 votes)
5251 votes total Vote Now