Today, we conclude our rankings of the 2022 Detroit Lions 90-man roster (89 when we started). Looking at last year’s list of the top-10 players, only five of those made this year’s top-10. Two of the players are no longer on the team, while three dropped out of the top 10 for various reasons.
Now here comes the good news. Of the Lions’ 2022 top-10 players, seven are still on their rookie contracts or something equivalent to a rookie contract*. The Lions’ core is young and talented, and many of these players have already proven a lot at the NFL level, despite their relative youth.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 players currently on the Lions roster.
*This is in reference to punter Jack Fox, who is just 25 and on an exclusive rights free agent contract, which is actually cheaper than a rookie deal.
Note: Here is a reminder of our methodology:
So over the past couple of weeks, Pride of Detroit staffers have been submitting their full roster rankings from No. 89* to No. 1. The list below represents the average rankings of all seven staffers who participated: Jeremy Reisman, Erik Schlitt, Morgan Cannon, John Whiticar, Jerry Mallory, Ryan Mathews, and Hamza Baccouche.
- Players ranked 89-81
- Players ranked 80-71
- Players ranked 70-61
- Players ranked 60-51
- Players ranked 50-41
- Players ranked 40-31
- Players ranked 30-21
- Players ranked 20-11
10. P Jack Fox (Highest ranking: 5; Lowest ranking: 17)
Fox’s placement in the top-10 is likely the result of three things: Fox being one of the best punters in the league, Detroit’s relatively low about of blue-chip players, and a certain few Pride of Detroiters’ obsession with special teams. But even among those who aren’t particularly big fans of putting a punter in the top 10 (see: me), it’s hard to deny Fox’s real talent.
9. G Jonah Jackson (Highest: 5; Lowest: 12)
Jackson jumps six spots after a Pro Bowl season. While his Pro Bowl appearance may have benefit from several players backing out of the all-star game, Jackson’s progress in Year 2 cannot be denied. As national analyst Brandon Thorn told us in a recent podcast, Jackson may be one of the most underrated guards in the league.
8. S Tracy Walker (Highest: 7; Lowest: 13)
For a stretch of the 2021 season, Tracy Walker was one of the best safeties in all of football. His level of play dropped as the season went on and the Lions had to shuffle around the entire secondary, but Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn saw enough to re-sign Walker to a three-year deal and essentially hand him the keys to the entire defense.
Walker still has a lot to prove, but expectations are high for him in Year 2 of this defense.
7. TE T.J. Hockenson (Highest: 6; Lowest: 10)
Speaking of high expectations, Hockenson was coming off a Pro Bowl season in 2020, but didn’t take the next step many were hoping for last season. With a lack of weapons around him, Hockenson was forced to carry the weight of the entire offensive gameplan. Early in the year, it worked. Hockenson tallied 448 yards in the first eight weeks of the season, ranking him sixth among all tight ends. Unfortunately, his production dropped off in the next five games, and a hand injury ended his season with five games to go.
Hockenson will have a much better supporting cast in 2022, so there’s a chance his career rebounds. But he will also have to become a more well-rounded tight end by improving his blocking skills.
6. WR Jameson Williams (Highest: 6; Lowest: 14)
Last year’s ranking: N/A
We may not see JaMo until November, but that can’t stop the hype around him. Prior to his ACL tear in January, Williams was considered by some as the best receiver prospect in this draft. His speed is electric and his ability to stretch the field should open so many opportunities for him and everyone around him. The Lions haven’t had this hyped of an offensive skill position weapon since Calvin Johnson.
5. EDGE Aidan Hutchinson (Highest: 4; Lowest: 12)
Last year’s ranking: N/A
When you’re the second overall pick at one of the most valuable positions on the field, you’re expected to be pretty darn good right out of the gate. Hutchinson was considered one of the most high-floor, pro-ready players in this year’s class, so even though Hutchinson will go through some rookie lumps, he could very well be the team’s best defensive player already—as he is rated in our rankings.
4. WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (Highest: 2; Lowest: 5)
It’s quite possible that St. Brown is the third-best receiver on the roster, but he is the most proven on this team after catching 90 balls in his rookie season. The way he finished the season was truly incredible, but as Campbell said earlier this camp, he may see some decreased production this year due to an improved receiver room.
“I think the hope is that we’ve got enough weapons and enough arsenal here that we’re able to spread this around and the production gets spread out even,” Campbell explained.
Still, St. Brown proved last year that his value goes beyond just catching the ball. He can run with it, he can block, and he can be used effectively as a decoy, too.
3. LT Taylor Decker (Highest: 2; Lowest: 4)
Decker went through a lot of emotions in 2021. After the Lions drafted Penei Sewell, some fans and pundits suggested trading Decker. Then, just before the season started, Decker suffered a broken finger and missed the first eight games of the season.
But, if anything, that time missed proved Decker’s worth to the team. While Sewell played valiantly at left tackle, Matt Nelson struggled at right. When Decker returned to the lineup, the Lions offense not-so-coincidentally turned around.
Decker may not be an elite left tackle, but he’s well above average. He’s finished in the top-10 in PFF’s pass blocking grade in each of the past two seasons. That’s exactly what you’re looking for in a left tackle.
2. RT Penei Sewell (Highest: 2; Lowest: 3)
Monday was a perfect reminder of just how good Penei Sewell was last year and where his potential lies. Here are some reactions from the Lions beat after his performance on the first day of padded practice this training camp:
My #Lions Training camp Day 5 observations: Penei Sewell, OL dominate in pads https://t.co/9U9fpx6kCE via @PrideOfDetroit— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) August 1, 2022
I imagine this is how Penei Sewell returned to the locker room after practice this morning pic.twitter.com/rvg6VAPhpf— Colton Pouncy (@colton_pouncy) August 1, 2022
The Lions put on pads today, and Penei Sewell was the best player I saw on that field https://t.co/UVR75i92a4 pic.twitter.com/Nb8dXaQ0Of— kyle meinke (@kmeinke) August 1, 2022
My top take from the Lions first day in pads:— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 1, 2022
Penei Sewell was the best player on the field today and I’m not sure it was real close.
Sewell has also decleated Brockers already today and won both his 1 on 1s with Hutchinson.— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 1, 2022
He looks outstanding. Full speed. No hesitation.
1. C Frank Ragnow (Highest: 1; Lowest: 1)
For the second straight year, Frank Ragnow is our unanimous No. 1 player on the Lions roster. Ragnow missed the last 13 games of last season with a toe injury, but that wasn’t enough for us to forget just how dominant Ragnow is when healthy.
If you need a reminder, before his injury, Ragnow was the No. 2 graded center in 2021 (86.7), the No. 2 graded center in 2020 (80.3), and the No. 6 graded center in 2019 (74.9).