The Detroit Lions went right back to the defensive line with their second-round pick, doubling up on edge defenders by picking Kentucky defender Joshua Paschal.
The character match here is absolutely obvious. Paschal is a three-time captain and a cancer survivor. After multiple surgeries, Paschal had to learn how to walk again.
On the field, he brings a tenacious attitude. Here’s Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops on Paschal:
“The way he empties his tank, the way he goes about his business, the way he impacts players, he leads, he is so selfless, he has overcome so much. Plays and empties his tank every day, one of the most special players if not the most, I’ve ever coached.”
Paschal’s fit on the field is a little less obvious. He’s got positional versatility to slide inside in subpackages and work the ends in base. He also has some experience playing linebacker. However, after drafting Aidan Hutchinson, re-signing Charles Harris in free agency, and giving Romeo Okwara an extension last offseason, the room is getting awfully crowded.
This pick also represents another big investment in the Lions' defensive front by general manager Brad Holmes in two years. He has now spent four draft picks in the top three rounds in two years:
- 2021 second round: DT Levi Onwuzurike
- 2021 third round: DT Alim McNeill
- 2022 first round: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson
- 2022 second round: DL Joshua Paschal
Paschal’s impact goes well beyond effort and character, though. He was one of the most productive edge defenders last year with 15.0 tackles for loss, and he was PFF’s highest-graded edge defender all season:
The Detroit Lions pick Kentucky EDGE Josh Paschal at No. 46 overall.— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 30, 2022
90.0 PFF grade in 2021 (1st among SEC EDGEs) pic.twitter.com/cMfxn8IjMv
He’ll immediately help improve the Lions’ run defense, which ranked 32nd in PFF grade and 31st in DVOA. But with only 5.5 sacks last season, he’ll need to develop more pass-rushing skills at the next level.
This pick is probably bad news for some of the Lions’ depth at the edge position. Jessie Lemonier, Rashod Berry, and even Austin Bryant should be on notice.