Every year around draft time there’s talk somewhere about NFL general managers telling lies and putting up smokescreens. I usually don’t buy into it. Generally I feel that teams are pretty open about their intentions are. While they may not say it out loud, it can be well estimated what each team is going to do come draft time. With the Detroit Lions, it feels as though it’s a bigger mystery than ever.
Just about everything I thought this team would do this offseason has gone the opposite way. I thought they would be spenders in free agency and they largely weren’t. I thought they’d go all in on some players at positions of need and they didn’t. They were largely quiet in free agency and made moves that muddied the waters more and more to the point that I couldn’t tell you what this team is going to do if I had to so to save my life. Let me break down some reasons why I feel this way.
I thought the Lions would go the Antwaan Randle El route with receiver. I thought they’d sign one receiver and then then take a couple in the draft with one of them coming in that 32nd or 34th pick region. The Lions did sign DJ Chark to be challenge for the No. 1 receiver spot and pair with Amon-Ra St. Brown. That’s great. What I didn’t expect was the Lions bringing back Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond. The Lions also have Quintez Cephus, Tom Kennedy and Trinity Benson. Where does another guy fit in?
While I still believe the Lions will draft a receiver this year, I now can’t say with certainty where that’s going to be. It does feel like the need for receiver isn’t a high enough for the Lions to make it a top priority in the draft anymore. Maybe the Lions wait it out and grab a guy like Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson, who the Lions reportedly have interest in, in the later rounds.
If the Lions want to grab one of the draft’s top receivers, they’ve done a good job of throwing off the scent. Perhaps they still do, but right now, their moves have made it seems as though they won’t.
The Lions have me flipping back and forth daily on this one. First, I’m sure they’re in love with Malik Willis at the Senior Bowl. Then free agency rolls around and they bring back both their backup quarterbacks. But then you realize bringing back both guys doesn’t mean they won’t still decide to take a quarterback. Then last week Brad Holmes says the Lions have confidence in Jared Goff. Then you re-read that article and see that the Lions haven’t ruled out the idea that a quarterback could be taken. Eventually, you pass out from the stress this team is putting on your brain. When you wake up, you see that Willis is set to meet with teams that could easily wind up being trade partners in a trade down situation, and you start the next week with as much confusion as the last.
This is the only section where there seems to be some certainty. There’s nothing concrete out there outside of Lions Gm Brad Holmes stating on multiple occasions that the Lions were open for business on trading down. It feels like there’s no reason to lie there, because trading down would ultimately open a lot of doors for the Lions. Still, if it’s lying season, maybe the Lions want teams to believe they’ll move for reason? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, though.
Aside from shelling out for a receiver, going after a safety in free agency was the biggest thing I thought the Lions would do in free agency. Marcus Williams seemed like the obvious move for the Lions if they were going to have a splash signing. They wound up not going that route. Aside from retaining Tracy Walker—which was a big thing—the Lions stayed away from the safety position.
Was that because the free agency market turned into craziness and players got too expensive? Was it because the Lions want to draft Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton? It seems like the Lions should take a safety, but how high on the list that is will remain a mystery for another few weeks.
When the season ended, it seemed the obvious choice in this draft would be either Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux or Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson. As time has marched on, it seems like the Lions drafting one of these guys is still a big possibility, but it also seems like they’d be just as happy moving down to grab another.
The Lions did show some serious interest in Thibodeaux recently when they sent seven representatives, including Brad Holmes, to Oregon’s pro day to watch him.
Kayvon Thibodeaux chatting it up with the Detroit Lions after finishing his Pro Day. pic.twitter.com/wi9wKkLlxP— Kate Rogerson (@KateRogersonTV) April 1, 2022
After reading all of this, can you tell me what the Lions are going to do in this year’s draft? Or are you just as much in the dark as I am?