Despite how Draft Twitter may react, there is not a single NFL Draft prospect that the Detroit Lions must draft or Brad Holmes is an idiot and the franchise is doomed. The truth is there are a lot of talented players at the top of the 2022 NFL Draft class, and even if the Lions don’t get the best prospect with their pick, there’s a pretty good chance they will have found a franchise player.
So instead of screaming in the comment section about the one player you’re hoping the Lions pick with the second overall pick, let’s talk about all of the potential scenarios for Detroit and rank them by preference. We don’t have to debate Aidan Hutchinson vs. Kayvon Thibodeaux vs. Travon Walker. We can admit they would all be acceptable options with slight preferences to one over the other.
Today’s question of the Day is:
What are your tiered rankings of preferred outcomes with the second overall pick?
My answer: First of all, I’m taking trade down out of the equation here. I just don’t think it’s a likely possibility, but if it were on my list, it’d be at the top. Here’s how the rest plays out:
Note: Yes, my preferences changed slightly since I tweeted out my tiered rankings on Sunday. Sue me.
- Kayvon Thibodeaux
- Aidan Hutchinson
These two are incredibly close in my rankings, and I go back and forth daily. But, ultimately, Thibodeaux’s first step and elite athleticism could eventually put him in the elite pass rusher conversation.
Hutchinson is far more athletic than people give him credit for and he’ll hit the ground running in the NFL. He lacks the bend to reach his full potential, but I have little doubt he’ll be a force at the next level.
3. Kyle Hamilton
4. Malik Willis
Hamilton is plummeting down media mock drafts, and I’m not entirely sure why. Personally, I think safety is becoming one of the most important positions in football, and it’s a huge need in Detroit. Concerns over Hamilton’s speed and athleticism are far overstated, though he doesn’t have the most fluid hips. Still, his football instincts and strong tackling make him the clear safety in this year’s class.
Willis would obviously be a significant risk, but it’s hard not to get excited about his upside. The Lions should absolutely be in the quarterback market right now, and if they find a guy they like—and there are a lot of things to like about Willis—they shouldn’t hesitate. Screw the public opinion.
5. Travon Walker
6. Sauce Gardner
7. Jermaine Johnson
I’d still be totally fine with the players in this section. For all those doubting Walker’s ability to be a full-time edge defender, even if he doesn’t reach his potential there, he’s an incredible weapon everywhere else. He’s a superb run defender, and he would give the Lions some nasty interior pass rush. Too many are throwing out Walker’s extremely impressive tape simply because his pressure rate is low.
Count me in as someone who thinks that 1) cornerback is a premier position and 2) the Lions very likely don’t have a true No. 1 cornerback. While I’d prefer the Lions to be absolutely certain that their young guys like Jeff Okudah and Ifeatu Melifonwu won’t develop into top-tier defenders, a guy like Ahmad Gardner gives Detroit a lot of good options in their secondary. Again, I am not concerned about public backlash simply because this team took a cornerback No. 3 a few years ago. That shouldn’t matter.
Lastly, Jermaine Johnson is a guy shooting up draft boards:
A player who will go higher Thursday than most seem to expect is FSU edge rusher Jermaine Johnson. Some I spoke with believe he will ultimately be best pass rusher in this draft. Seems to be a Top 10 lock. Maybe even sneaks into Top 5? #nfldraft— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) April 25, 2022
Johnson blew up after his transfer to Florida State, and he’s pretty balanced as a run defender and pass rusher. You can fairly wonder why he wasn’t able to crack Georgia’s starting lineup before transferring, but ultimately, the man thrived with a new team. That sort of thing is common at the NFL level (hello, Charles Harris). The dude has talent.