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2022 NFL mock draft roundup: Kayvon Thibodeaux projections to the Lions on the rise

Identifying the players that have been projected to the Detroit Lions in 2022 mock drafts over the past week.

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Syndication: USA TODAY Chris Pietsch / USA TODAY NETWORK

There’s nothing like a pro day visit from Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes to jump-start a shift in mock draft projections.

In last week’s mock draft roundup, Georgia’s Travon Walker was being heavily projected to the Lions at pick No. 2, but the day before that article was published, Holmes and a contingent of Lions’ staff attended Oregon’s pro day and met with edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. As predicted in last week’s piece, there has been a strong reaction from mock drafters to that visit, and projections of Thibodeaux to the Lions have seen a dramatic increase in numbers.

Let’s take a closer look at that, and the others that are being projected to the Lions with the No. 2 overall pick this week.

Jacksonville picks anyone but Aidan Hutchinson first overall, and the Lions select...

Last week, analysts were in agreement that if Hutchinson was available at pick No. 2, he was likely going to be the pick. That held true again this week, save for Aaron Wilson, who believes Thibodeaux will be higher on the Lions draft board.

Jacksonville takes Aidan Hutchinson first overall and the Lions select...

Projections have leveled off between Walker and Thibodeaux, and it very much looks like a two-man race at pick No. 2 if Hutchinson is drafted first overall by the Jaguars. Both players offer a different approach to edge play, and both would make sense for the Lions depending on what they’re looking for at the position.

There are, of course, a lot of factors that come into play for the Lions and this pick. But for me, it really comes down to one basic question: Do the Lions think they have enough speed/bend off the edge in Charles Harris, Romeo Okwara, Julian Okwara, and Austin Bryant?

If the answer is yes, then Walker would offer them a position versatile super athlete who can make an impact from multiple spots on the defensive line.

If the answer is no, then Thibodeaux can offer them a presence on the edge that the Lions have not seen in some time.

If you can figure out which way Holmes and company are leaning, you will have the player most likely to land in Detroit at the end of the month.

As always, there are three or four analysts that are still looking at the Lions picking a player that is not an edge rusher, with Hamilton and Willis the primary options projected. And one of the more interesting notes this week is that Detroit Lions’ writer Mike O’Hara actually has the Lions landing both players, Hamilton at No. 2 and Willis at No. 32.

With that, let’s shift to the quarterbacks.

Quarterback focus

The Lions continue to be connected with a quarterback at pick No. 32, but which one is still anyone’s guess. Yes, the Lions likely need a long-term answer at quarterback, and yes we often see teams select quarterbacks at the end of the first round to ensure they get a fifth-year option, but it’s also worth noting that none of the local beat writers have projected the Lions to take a quarterback here—outside of O’Hara, and that was only because Willis was available.

Could the Lions take this approach? Certainly. But it also doesn’t appear any of the local writers think they will.

Pick No. 32 and 34

The Lions typically get projected a mix of wide receivers and defenders at this spot, and not a lot has changed, except for the fact that things are very defensive-heavy this week. Last week, Nakobe Dean was the belle of the ball, and this week, Jaquan Brisker and Lewis Cine lead the safety group, a position that saw nearly half of this week’s projections at picks No. 32 and 34.

Brisker is a big hitter who thrives in the box but can also flex out to the slot and into a 2-deep split-zone role. He’s would be a nice complementary piece to Tracy Walker and would allow defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn to move Will Harris into a hybrid safety corner matchup role, which seems better suited for his skill set.

Cine is a natural deep safety that would smoothly fit into the Lions’ split-zone scheme. Like Brisker, Cine is a strong hitter, but the difference between the two being that Brisker is more of a playmaker on the ball, while Cine excels more in coverage.