One of the main debates the public is having over the choices the Detroit Lions have to make with the second overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft is whether someone like safety Kyle Hamilton is worth that price, given the position he plays. It is a common belief that safety is not among the game-changing positions. That seems to be backed up by the actions of NFL general managers. Only one safety has ever been picked as high as second overall (Eric Turner in 1991), and the average salary of an NFL safety is behind quarterback, offensive tackle, edge rusher, defensive tackle, and linebacker (per Spotrac).
But during his sit down with local Detroit media this week, Lions head coach Dan Campbell suggested that positional value may not sway their decision when it comes to the second overall pick.
“We’re looking at every scenario because there’s some guys that are ultimately—some might say, ‘Well, is the value worth it at two?’ No, we don’t care,” Campbell said. “All that matters is this dude is going to come in and play, and he’s going to help us, and he’s going to be a productive player for a long time in this league for us. That’s what matters to us.”
It’s hard to read that in any other way than a player like Kyle Hamilton is a viable option at two, provided the Lions believe he can be a long-term, productive player for them.
To be fair, though, Campbell’s comments do run in slight contrast to what Lions general manager Brad Holmes said at last week’s NFL owners meetings. Holmes acknowledged that there are certain game-changing positions that are prioritized highly in the draft, specifically quarterback, offensive tackle, and edge defenders.
“Those are premium positions,” Holmes said. “They can really lay the foundation of your team’s success. I truly believe that. There’s other game-changers at other positions that you can find outside of those positions, but obviously when you want to have a quarterback that can lead your football team, but you really have that guy that can protect your quarterback, and then at the end of they day, you want that guy that can get after your quarterback, too.”
Detroit will have some viable options at some of those premium positions. This draft class’ top-tier talent appears to be at edge (Kayvon Thibodeaux, Aidan Hutchinson, Travon Walker) and offensive tackle (Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu). A quarterback like Liberty’s Malik Willis is on the table, too.
But offensive tackle is not a huge need for this team, and the other four prospects come with serious questions marks that could give the Lions some pause on draft night. That isn’t to say Kyle Hamilton doesn’t come with his flaws, too. Some may be turned off by his merely average 40-yard dash time or occasional mental error.
But even Holmes left the door open for Detroit to consider an unconventional position with the second overall pick. When asked what he wants in the second overall pick, he specifically said he wanted a “game-changer,” and that wasn’t just limited to the premium positions in this league.
“I do think there are other positions that you can find some game-changers on,” Holmes said.
So for you Kyle Hamilton hopefuls, it appears he will be in play for Detroit.