The NFL Draft can often by defined just as much by the player you don’t take as the one you did choose to select. Case in point, passing over Aaron Donald and Odell Beckham Jr. will likely haunt Martin Mayhew for the rest of his life, even though over the course of his time at general manager he drafted the best Lions in the modern era: Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh, and Darius Slay.
So we kick off Part 2 of our 2022 NFL Draft superlatives for the Detroit Lions by identifying a pick we wish current Lions general manager Brad Holmes would’ve made last weekend.
Pick you wish they would’ve made
Alex Reno: Jaquan Brisker at 46
I’m very happy that we ended up with Kerby Joseph, but we didn’t know we would be getting him at the time, and I still like Brisker better. As much as I like Paschal as a player, I think safety was a bigger need and Brisker would have been the best player available at 46. It hurts even more that Brisker ended up going two spots later to a division rival.
Jerry Mallory: Kayvon Thibodeaux at 2
I’m happy with Big Hutch, but I think he’s the second-best DE this class behind Kayvon who I still think is the best overall player in this draft.
Hamza Baccouche: Kayvon Thibodeaux at 2
Personally, I preferred Kayvon over Hutch, but I’m not gonna sit here and complain about landing the Heisman runner-up. Still an A+ pick.
Ryan Mathews: Malik Willis at 46
It wouldn’t have cost them anything to take their potential franchise quarterback at this point in the draft, and it wouldn’t have left them in such a dire spot to add one next offseason.
Morgan Cannon: Linebacker earlier
I felt like there was plenty of value on the board in terms of linebackers when the Lions took Paschal at 46 and Joseph at 97, and I would have liked for them to do more to address that position group. Hopefully, I’m wrong and the linebacker unit surprises some people.
Jeremy Reisman: Jaquan Brisker at 46
The Lions waited too long at safety, and I think they may pay for it. Brisker could’ve started on Day 1, and instead, the Lions will have to wait and see if Joseph develops into a more well-rounded player. That said, the Paschal pick is growing on me the deeper I jump into his film.
Mike Payton: Isaiah Likely
Again, I’m not unhappy with what the Lions did. All offseason long I mocked a tight end to the Lions and it was always Isaiah Likely or James Mitchell. I like Mitchell’s game a lot, but I looked at Likely as the better option. Likely was like a Kyle Pitts light to me and I feel like he could have done a lot of things Mitchell can do and maybe better.
Erik Schlitt: trading up for Nakobe Dean in the third round
He is currently working through a shoulder, knee, and pec injuries, and with teams already worried about his size, his stock dropped him all the way down to pick No. 83. The Lions surely weren’t worried about his size, as they took Malcolm Rodriguez 100+ picks later and they are nearly identical in height and weight. So, once Dean fell to the third round, I wish they would have made a move to go get him and upgrade the weakest unit on the team—the fact that they didn’t tells me there were probably some major red flags in his medicals.
UDFA most likely to make an impact
Alex Reno: OT Obinna Eze
I tend to follow the money when it comes to UDFAs. Eze was given the largest amount of guaranteed money and the Lions could still use some depth on the offensive line. Whether he nabs a roster spot or makes the practice squad, I think he’ll remain a Lion in 2022/23.
Jerry Mallory: OT Obinna Eze
Money talks and he got the most of the UDFAs. As solid as our offensive line starters are Eze could compete for a backup role and possibly win it.
Hamza Baccouche: TE Derrick Deese Jr.
Judging by the week-to-week turnover in the tight ends room late last year, the Lions aren’t sold on anyone from last season’s roster aside from Hockenson. Even after the selection of James Mitchell, the TE3 spot is wide open and something tells me the Lions are going to want to give a good chance to an outside guy.
Morgan Cannon: OT Obinna Eze
If he can make an impact early on in camp, he has a decent chance at sticking as a developmental player, and depth along the offensive line.
Jeremy Reisman: G Kevin Jarvis
Jarvis got $155,000 guaranteed and he enters an interior offensive line competition that doesn’t have a ton of depth. Evan Brown likely has a reserve spot locked up, but Detroit shouldn’t feel comfortable with Logan Stenberg or Tommy Kraemer on the 53-man roster.
Mike Payton: OT Obinna Eze
I’m joining the rest of the gang on this one. The Lions need depth on the offensive line and Eze has a chance to be a part of that depth.
Erik Schlitt: DT Demetris Taylor
If the category was who is most likely to make the roster, I would have gone with the group and picked Eze, who may very well earn an OT4 role. But I’m going to focus on the “impact” part of this category and his first step is lethal. Taylor is an interesting evaluation because at 6-foot-0, 289 pounds, he is a bit of a DL tweener. While he projects as a rotational pass rushing 3-technique, he played at the 5-technique in App State’s 4-man front, which gives him some positional versatility with the type of defensive line the Lions are creating.
Alex Reno: Josh Paschal
I wasn’t expecting the Lions to double-dip at EDGE that early in the draft. Not surprised that the Lions fell in love with a player that has “Dan Campbell guy” written all over him, though.
Jerry Mallory: Trading up 20 spots in the first round
Trading up alone was a surprise (although Holmes has been viewed as aggressive). Whenever you think you have 20 picks before our next selection and see the Lions’ name pop up as the next pick it’s a jolt of excitement. Then passing on someone like Kyle Hamilton or a QB (which everyone did) was also shocking.
Hamza Baccouche: Drafting Jameson Williams
Is this even a question? It’s Jameson Williams. From a symbolic perspective, the Lions got serious about addressing receiver and I like it. You can frame it as setting up Jared Goff for success, but really it puts him in a make-or-break situation. If Goff struggles this year, he has no excuses and you have a clear-cut answer as to whether or not he’s the guy.
Morgan Cannon: Trading up 20 spots in the first round
Initially, I wasn’t thrilled with the trade, but after several days to think on it—the value was there and I think we are going to be really happy about having Williams in Detroit.
Jeremy Reisman: Trading up 20 spots in the first round
A week before the draft, Brad Holmes told us he wasn’t going to wait for the board to fall to him. The coaching staff said all offseason they were trying to upgrade the receiver room. Yet, I still was blindsided by this.
Mike Payton: The entire draft
I mean the whole thing was crazy. The Lions had the widely regarded top player in the draft fall to them at 2, they traded up and grabbed a receiver that would have gone top 5 if he hadn’t tore his ACL and then they loaded up the defensive line and grabbed a steal at tight end. We wondered all offseason what this team was going to do in the draft and I don’t think anyone would have been able to call this.
Erik Schlitt: Trading up 20 spots in the first round
The idea of trading up that far for a player they had highly rated was something we had talked about in our Spotify Live podcasts but with all the needs on the roster it didn’t seem realistic they’d be willing to pay the price. Getting the deal they got from Minnesota surely made this move a lot more manageable, but this was definitely a surprising move—and I’m here for some more Brad Holmes aggressiveness in the future.