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2022 Detroit Lions draft superlatives: Best pick, best value selection

Eight of our staff members hand out honors for the 2022 Detroit Lions draft class.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions 2022 NFL Draft is in the books, and now it’s time to pick apart every single pick for the next three football-less months. We’ve already provided some grades, assessed the value of each pick, and dissected the athleticism in the class. Time to have a little fun with this.

In a two-part series, we asked the Pride of Detroit staff to honor some superlatives to this year’s draft class. Here are the seven “awards” to hand out for the 2022 draft class:

  • Favorite pick
  • Least favorite pick
  • Player you’re most excited to see in training camp
  • Best value pick
  • Pick you wish the Lions would’ve made
  • UDFA most likley to make an impact
  • Biggest overall surprise

Eight of our staffers offered their answers for each honor. In Part 1, we tackle the first four.

Favorite Lions pick

Alex Reno: Aidan Hutchinson

Pretty simple choice for me. You got the best player in the draft with the second overall pick at a huge area of need. The Lions could have overthought this and screwed it up, but we can be thankful that they did not.

Jerry Mallory: Jameson Williams

Everything surrounding the circumstances and player is exciting. The trade up. Fleecing the Vikings. Aaron Rodgers praising Jameson. Then the player himself is an absolute burner but also has premier all-around skills at WR.

Hamza Baccouche: Jameson Williams

The Lions wanted playmakers, and Williams is the definition of that. Williams is one of those really high impact picks who (once healthy) should not only bring his own talents to the field, but will make every other receiver’s job much easier. Slotting in Williams as WR 1 or 2 makes the Lions’ receiver room look reallll nice.

Morgan Cannon: Jameson Williams

I was thrilled when the Jaguars went with Travon Walker at one, allowing Hutchinson to fall to the Lions. But I really think Williams is going to be a difference-maker for the Lions moving forward. Someone who scares a defense every time they touch the ball is so valuable in the NFL.

Ryan Mathews: Jameson Williams

The Lions went into this draft with five picks in the top 100, and while I was really looking forward to what kind of depth the team could add with all those picks, the fact of the matter is Detroit was missing top-tier talent. When Holmes cashed in some of those picks to move up to No. 12, not only did he put himself in a position to get another blue-chip player, he ended up adding Jameson Williams, the best skill position player in the draft—and a bonafide playmaker.

Jeremy Reisman: Aidan Hutchinson

I had a slight preference for Kayvon Thibodeaux, but it was really a 1A, 1B situation. This team really needed an elite, game-changing pass rusher, and now they’ve got one.

Mike Payton: Jameson Williams

It’s a game-changer. The Lions went from a team that had no receiver of the future last September to a team that has two really good receivers of the future. Williams’ speed is comparable to nobody in the league and once he is healthy, defenses are going to hate him.

Erik Schlitt: Aidan Hutchinson

If you read my “why the Lions should draft Aidan Hutchinson piece”, listened to me on a podcast, or followed my draft coverage over the past year, my selection shouldn’t be at all surprising. The Lions just got the best player in the draft.

Least favorite Lions pick

Alex Reno: James Houston

I don’t love that they tripled up on edge rusher for a guy most of us have never heard of, but I also can’t complain too much about a late-round pick. I would have preferred one of the interior linemen that slipped this far.

Jerry Mallory: Josh Paschal

Getting DL help is always amazing but my initial reaction was underwhelmed with the player. Some of the more common targets like Malik Willis, Nakobe Dean, and Jaquan Brisker were still available and I was hoping one of them would be the pick.

Hamza Baccouche: Chase Lucas

The Lions had a plethora of fringe guys playing cornerback last season, many of whom stepped up to the occasion and played well enough to be an incumbent for CB. Okudah and Amani are your starters, but beyond that things get really murky. Ifeatu Melifonwu will be looking for a rebound sophomore year, while AJ Parker, Jerry Jacobs, and Bobby Price try to replicate last year’s success. Investing in safety this off-season means Will Harris will get to continue his shot at cornerback, and we still don’t have any idea how Mike Hughes fits into the group. Add in Chase Lucas and this is probably the murkiest position group out of them all, and I don’t like it. You’re gonna have to end up cutting at least one or two players who likely should’ve stuck to the bottom of the roster otherwise, and odds are it’s not going to be the guy you spend a sixth-round draft pick on. I just don’t see the need for spending that draft capital on a guy who probably isn’t gonna make much of a difference compared to your current CB 4/5.

Morgan Cannon: Malcolm Rodriguez

This is tough because I really like this draft class, but for me, it’s Malcolm Rodriguez. He has great instincts and he’s willing to stick his nose in there, but the size is obviously lacking and the short arms are going to make it tough for him to get off of blocks at this level.

Ryan Mathews: Josh Paschal

I get why the Lions felt they had to take Paschal with the 46th pick, but from a talent standpoint, there were a number of other players available at positions Detroit had yet to address. On top of that, this marked Holmes’ fourth time selecting a defensive lineman in his first two drafts—and all four of those selections have been made in the first three rounds.

Jeremy Reisman: Kerby Joseph

The Lions waited too long to grab a safety, and it felt like they just grabbed the last acceptable one at 97. Joseph is athletically gifted, but he’s still incredibly raw. His early 2021 tape was rough, and although he got better and more confident, I still think he’s a year or two away—if he ever develops into a starter.

Mike Payton: Malcolm Rodriguez

I don’t really dislike any of the picks the Lions made. Having said that, the Lions need help at linebacker and it feels like they waited to long to get one. Rodriguez has some size issues that could be a problem and it feels like at this point, Rodriguez is just a special teams player. I hope he proves me wrong.

Erik Schlitt: James Houston

Houston has the potential to develop into a solid pass rusher and should be a Day 1 special teamer, but he is redundant to Julian Okwara to me, and his role isn’t entirely clear in the Lions new base 42 scheme.

Draft pick you’re most excited to see in training camp

Alex Reno: Jameson Williams

Let’s hope that Jamo can heal in time to get some training camp work in because if he does, all eyes will be on him. Not only am I excited to see what he can do on the football field, but I’m excited to see what this means for the rest of the offense and how this will open up opportunities for his teammates.

Jerry Mallory: Aidan Hutchinson

He’s the guy and potentially the future cornerstone of the defense. If he wins some battles against our stout offensive line I’ll be ecstatic.

Hamza Baccouche: Josh Paschal

Even though he was an unfamiliar name to a lot of folks, everything since the draft has been about how good Paschal looks on tape as an explosive player and a disruptor in the trenches. I want that to be true, and I’ll have my eyes peeled for it as the we ramp up to the season.

Morgan Cannon: Aidan Hutchison

It’s simply because I can’t wait to see live reps of him against the likes of Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker. Should make for some fun one-on-one sessions.

Ryan Mathews: James Mitchell

Assuming Jamo isn’t ready for training camp, I’ll be really intrigued to see what the Lions got in fifth-round pick James Mitchell. If he’s healthy and ready for training camp, you could be looking at a player who will feature heavily in the Lions’ offense as the team’s No. 2 tight end.

Jeremy Reisman: James Houston

Houston was an absolute terror on the field at Jackson State last year. Sure, the level of competition was lower, but he showed up in the All-Star circuit, playing well at the East-West Shrine Game and the NFLPA Bowl. Plus, I’m insatiably curious where the Lions will play him: linebacker or edge?

Mike Payton: Jameson Williams

Williams says he could be ready by camp and I hope he is. I look forward to seeing how the Lions plan to use him and how having Williams around could bring back the long ball for Jared Goff.

Erik Schlitt: Josh Paschal

I naturally gravitate to the trenches in training camp, and based on what defensive line coach Todd Wash said about how they plan use Paschal, we are going to get to see him and Penei Sewell battling it out all camp long. Add in Hutchinson versus Taylor Decker and Alim McNeill versus Frank Ragnow, and we’re going to have some fun in Allen Park.

Best value pick

Alex Reno: Kerby Joseph

Joseph was one of my favorite fits for this defense, and I had him ranked higher than a couple of the safeties that went ahead of him. I would have been happy with him if the Lions kept the 66th overall pick and took him there, so 97th overall is fantastic value. Safety was arguably the biggest need on the roster at the time of the selection, making the pick that much better.

Jerry Mallory: Malcolm Rodriguez

Most sixth-round picks have slim odds at making the team. Rodriguez might be the exception as we are thin at LB, he had good to great production in college and could carve out a nice role on special teams with a chance at playing on defense too. A little more size and he could’ve been drafted on Day 2.

Hamza Baccouche: Kerby Joseph

Joseph is a young, raw, high ceiling talent who I am very excited about. I’m convinced that if Joseph stayed another year he’d have been the top of the 2023 safety class, but instead he falls into the Lions’ lap at the end of the third round. I’d be quite surprised if Kerby isn’t starting by end of season.

Morgan Cannon: Josh Paschal

Three-technique was a sneaky need for the Lions and Paschal gives them playmaking there, as well as on the edge. We don’t know when Romeo Okwara is going to be ready, and if you go back and look at some of the box scores in 2021, the Lions needed help against the run in a major way.

Ryan Mathews: Aidan Hutchinson

Detroit got the draft’s best player at the second overall pick, but it wasn’t because a quarterback or an offensive tackle went before him. No, the Lions were able to get the draft’s best player at No. 2 because the Jacksonville Jaguars took a different EDGE defender who will hopefully be way more productive than he was in college as a pass rusher—good luck with that, Trent Baalke.

Jeremy Reisman: James Mitchell

Tight end is a hard position to transition to in the NFL, but I think Mitchell has a chance to immediately be TE2 on this team. If his ACL recovery has progressed as much as he’s said it has, his versatile skillset should skyrocket him up the depth chart. Watch his North Carolina tape and tell me I’m wrong.

Mike Payton: James Houston

Watch Houston’s tape and you’ll see a guy that just goes off on offensive lineman. It’s easy to look at his stats at Jackson State and think that he’s only doing it because it’s a small school, but when you have it you have it. James Houston has it.

Erik Schlitt: Kerby Joseph

I was comfortable taking Joseph at pick No. 66, so getting him at No. 97 is a win for me. There are aspects of his game that need to improve before he can start at safety, but he is a ballhawk and starting gunner, and a significant upgrade to the depth of the safety unit.