Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Each week we ask questions of the most plugged-in Detroit Lions fans and fans across the country.
For all intents and purposes, Detroit Lions hit a homerun with the organization’s 2022 draft class. The eight players selected by general manager Brad Homes received high grades from national analysts, saw 96 percent of POD readers give the class an “A” or “B” grade (75 percent of which were “A’s”), and had executives around the league singing the Lions praises, including one saying “I feel like this is the best I have seen Detroit draft in a long time.”
The 52-minute “Inside the Den: Behind the Scenes of the Lions’ 2022 NFL Draft” video produced by the team did a superb job of showing that the Lions’ front office and coaching staff were also equally excited about the players they were able to add to their roster.
Overall, the Lions made some exciting selections. But which individual from the collective group are fans most excited to see? Let’s look at each of the Lions’ 2022 drafted rookie’s projected roles and then vote in our Reacts survey.
Round 1, pick 2: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
On track to not only win a starting role but to be a versatile game wrecker that can line up at multiple spots on the field, Hutchinson is set up to make an instant impact on the Lions’ defense. A defensive end in base formations, Hutchinson can set the edge, stop the run, and get to the passer. When he pushes inside to the 3-technique, he demands attention, and double-teaming him will free up other Lions’ players for opportunities—as we saw in OTAs and minicamp. Coaches look prepared to turn him loose in the fall.
Round 1, pick 12: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
A January ACL tear has kept Williams out of spring practices, a safety measure that the Lions will likely carry over into the fall. At this time, it’s unclear when Williams will be able to get on the field, but when he gets healthy and up to game speed, he has the potential to take the offense to another level. Blessed with exceptional speed, Williams can take the top off a defense, but his toughness and willingness to get physical, make him a potential mismatch weapon at all levels.
Round 2, pick 46: Josh Paschal, EDGE, Kentucky
A core muscle injury (something he dealt with in college) limited Paschal’s spring camp but once he is healthy, he will give the Lions another versatile edge rusher who can line up all along the defensive line. Playing at Kentucky may have limited Lions fans’ exposure to Paschal beyond a highlight reel, but make no mistake, he is a grind-it-out player who will surprise people with his athleticism. He’s not expected to start, but with the frequency at which the Lions rotate their defensive line, he could still see plenty of time.
Round 3, pick 97: Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois
Joseph isn’t currently in line to start for the Lions but that doesn’t mean he won’t see the field. Coaches have already said he is “ahead of where” they expected him to be at this stage and plan on getting him on the field to gain experience. Even with a subdued role on defense early, he is a ballhawk and has the potential to still make game-altering plays with limited snaps. He may also be one of the early favorites to land one of the starting gunner roles on special teams.
Round 5, pick 177: James Mitchell, TE, Virginia Tech
Nearly nine months removed from an ACL injury, Mitchell is expected to contribute in training camp this fall, even though he was held out of spring practices. A potential TE2 once he acclimates to the NFL, Mitchell will be fighting for that role throughout the preseason/season, with TE3 looking like his floor. Mitchell is capable of playing TE-F and H-back roles, operating in the slot and out of the backfield, but rookie tight ends typically have a steep learning curve, so fans will need to be patient with his development.
Round 6, pick 188: Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, Oklahoma State
Undersized but tenacious, Rodriguez is currently with the third-string linebacker group, but don’t expect him to stay there long. He’s another player that coaches have raved over this spring, saying he is ahead of schedule in his development and possesses “green-dot” (defensive play-calling) potential. With the linebacker roles all seemingly up for grabs, there’s no telling how quickly this fan-favorite will climb up the depth chart.
Round 6, pick 217: James Houston, EDGE, Jackson State
Houston’s skill set is so enticing that Lions’ coaches were trying to use him all over the field and overwhelming the rookie with information. They have since scaled things back for him in hopes of featuring his best skill: his pass-rushing. Houston seems likely headed for a situational pass-rushing role, as well as contributing on special teams, but when you can bend the edge the way his athleticism allows him to, he’ll be sure to turn some heads this fall.
Round 7, pick 237: Chase Lucas, CB, Arizona State
As a seventh rounder, Lucas can often get overlooked, but he is one of the most exciting, smart young players on the roster. Lucas is a pure nickel corner at this stage of his career, but he has plenty of experience (a five-year starter in college) and has been taught by former NFL defensive back Herm Edwards (ASU coach) and defensive guru Marvin Lewis. Right now, Lucas is the Lions’ third-string nickel corner, but that is another position that seems up for grabs and Lucas looks to be in the fight for a potential starting role.
Alright, time to vote and let your voice be heard: