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Podcast: The Ringer’s Danny Kelly debates ‘safe’ vs. high-upside picks for Lions

With no clear-cut pick at No. 2, do the Detroit Lions go with the safer pick or the player who could potentially give them the most value, despite red flags?

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions have a bit of a conundrum on their hands with the second overall pick. Unfortunately for them, there is no clear-cut choice for Detroit—especially if the Jacksonville Jaguars take Aidan Hutchinson, as they are expected to do. Players like Kayvon Thibodeaux, Travon Walker, Malik Willis, and Kyle Hamilton all come with questions, whether they be about character, raw skills, or low level of play in college.

That leaves the Lions with an interesting choice: Do they take a swing on a player with serious concerns but at a high position of value, hoping that their coaching staff straightens out any issues and they get the absolute most out of their pick? Or do they put positional value aside and simply pick a player they have the most confidence will turn into a long-term franchise player. There’s a reason players like Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson or cornerback Ahmad Gardner have started to slip into the conversation. Though their ceilings may be lower than some of the other players, their resume has fewer red flags.

Last week, Lions’ head coach Dan Campbell seemed to suggest they would put positional value aside if they were certain they’ve got a player who will be a foundational piece.

“We’re looking at every scenario because there’s some guys that are ultimately some might say, well, is the value worth it at two? No, we don’t care,” Campbell said. “All that matters is this dude is going to come in and play and he’s going to help us and he’s going to be a productive player for a long time in this league for us. That’s what matters to us.”

Is that the right move in this year’s draft? Does that mean the Lions would pass on someone like Thibodeaux to grab a less-conventional top-two pick like safety Kyle Hamilton?

We asked those questions and a lot more to The Ringer’s draft expert Danny Kelly, whose Draft Guide is always one of the more entertaining and insightful publications on the NFL Draft.

Other topics include:

  • Why Lewis Cine and Nakobe Dean may be perfect fits at 32 and 34
  • Debating whether a quarterback at 32 makes any sense
  • Will Christian Watson be there at 32? Plus Kelly tells us why he thinks Watson would be a perfect fit with Dan Campbell.
  • Does Jermaine Johnson deserve to be in the conversation at second overall?

Listen to our entire conversation below.

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