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Grading the Detroit Lions’ selection of Alabama WR Jameson Williams

The Detroit Lions made a big splash by trading up into the top half of Round 1 for Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams.

2022 NFL Draft - Round 1 Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions made a big splash when they traded up from 32 to 12 on Thursday night to select Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams. The trade was quite the deviation for Lions fans, who have watched the Lions stand pat and select relatively uninspiring positions at the top of the draft for a large part of the past decade.

This was flashy. This was fun. This was risky. But was it too risky?

My grade: A-

There are two parts to this selection that we need to analyze: the trade up and the selection.

For starters, trading up is always a fundamentally high-risk thing to do. As the team trading up, you have very little leverage and often have to pay a surplus charge on draft picks. Historically, a second-rounder this year costs a first-rounder next year, a third-rounder this year costs a second-rounder next year, and so on. For the Lions, that’s not good news when moving up 20 spots in the first round.

Somehow, however, Brad Holmes pulled it off with minimal damage, sending picks 32, 34, and 66 in exchange for picks 12 and 46. The way I like to think about it is that it cost the Lions pick 34 to move up 20 spots each, from 32 to 12 and from 66 to 46.

There were mixed feelings across the board about the trade, but I’m all for it. Some draft value models say the Lions gained a third-round pick’s value, others say they lost a fourth-round pick’s value, and until we have hindsight we’ll never truly know if this was the right choice. There’s room to debate the true value of the trade, but objectively speaking, when you compare it to similar trades up in recent years the Lions absolutely finessed the Vikings.

I’m fundamentally opposed to the idea of a trade-up because you never want to reduce the number of draft picks you have, especially on Days 1 and 2. However, if there was a trade-up I could get behind, this would be it.

Now, the player. Jameson Williams is arguably the most talented receiver in this draft from a pure talent standpoint. He has raw speed that can really stretch the field, something the Lions were missing last year. There comes some risk with his injury, though, a torn ACL he sustained in January’s NCAA Championship game. While ACL’s are nothing to balk at, the recovery process has come a long way thanks to recent medical advancements, especially for a guy as young as Williams. Had it not been for the injury, there’s no doubt in my mind Williams would have been the first receiver off the board.

Overall, Williams is the kind of potentially elite talent that you just can’t get at picks 32 or 34. The Lions wanted a playmaker and they got one. It cost a lot, and you have to wonder what kind of holes the Lions could’ve filled with two picks instead of one, but it was a steal compared to historically similar trade scenarios. There’s an inherent risk in trading up, and there’s an inherent risk in drafting Jameson Williams. However, as I said on the live stream, if there was an injured player I would trade up to draft, it’s Jameson Williams.

Poll

What grade do you give the selection of Jameson Williams?

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    A
    (1547 votes)
  • 18%
    B
    (382 votes)
  • 3%
    C
    (70 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (16 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (16 votes)
2031 votes total Vote Now