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Detroit Lions finish with second-most athletic 2022 NFL Draft class

The Lions’ front office sure is making it a point to draft top athletes.

NFL Combine Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions have continued to put an emphasis on drafting fast, athletic players to match the speed of today’s NFL. Last year, general manager Brad Holmes’ first draft class as general manager had a cumulative RAS (Relative Athletic Scores) score of 7.68, which was their second-most athletic draft class since 2009.

This year, the front office continued their quest to draft the best players available with an emphasis on athleticism and high character.

Here is a look at the Lions’ 2022 haul with a focus on their athletic testing, using RAS as a measurement.

Pick 1 — Aidan Hutchinson

Hutchinson doesn’t get enough credit for his athleticism. He might not have the elite bend or explosiveness on tape, but he sure tested well in those areas, especially his agility drills. Despite his height, Hutchinson doesn’t have the arm length to match (seventh percentile), but he makes up for it with his motor and violent demeanor.

Pick 2 — Jameson Williams

Williams was unable to participate at the combine due suffering an ACL tear in the National Championship game. Despite this, we still know that Williams is extremely fast using GPS data and it shows up plenty on film.

Williams is also very confident in his own ability, and believes that he would have set the fastest recorded time ever in the 40-yard dash, had he participated.

Pick 3 — Josh Paschal

Not only did the Lions double up on edge rushers, but they got another elite athlete to pair with Hutchinson in the trenches. Though he’s a bit undersized, Paschal packs on a lot of muscle and is extremely explosive off the line.

Pick 4 — Kerby Joseph

Joseph was unable to put together a RAS score and did not participate in speed or agility drills (rehabbing a hamstring injury during pro day), but there should be no concern about his athleticism. Joseph flies on film and has very good range for a safety, which is why Illinois trusted him to roam alone as a center fielder last year.

Pick 5 — James Mitchell

Mitchell also did not put together a RAS score as he is currently rehabbing a torn ACL that he suffered early in the college football season last year. He should be ready before training camp, and while he did not test, he is not lacking in the athleticism department. Acceleration, speed and route-running is where he wins on film.

Pick 6 — Malcolm Rodriguez

The Lions finally got their linebacker later in the draft and a very athletic one at that. Rodriguez is smaller for the position, but he excelled at the NFL Combine, and was the fourth-fastest linebacker to run the 40-yard dash. Due to his lack of size, Rodriguez could be limited to playing special teams and as a linebacker in pursuit (WILL/BUCK).

Pick 7 — James Houston

Houston gives us the first “non-elite” RAS score for this draft class, but his scores are still very good. He’s shorter for an edge rusher, but still packs on a lot of muscle, and he tested extremely well during explosion drills. But his agility scores aren’t very good, so he might struggle to turn the corner as a pure speed rusher at the next level.

Pick 8 — Chase Lucas

Rounding out this class is another elite athlete in Chase Lucas. He has decent enough size and length, but his calling card is his explosiveness and above-average speed. His three-cone score was also very impressive. Though he is a bit older for a rookie (25 years old), the Lions will love having another elite athlete to work with in their CB stable.

2022 Lions Draft class RAS scores

This puts the Lions’ average RAS score in 2022 at an outstanding 9.18. For reference, take a look at the scores from the past 10 years.

2021: 7.68
2020: 6.97
2019: 6.46
2018: 7.98
2017: 7.21
2016: 6.84
2015: 6.04
2014: 6.41
2013: 5.7
2012: 6.48