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Detroit Lions mock draft: 2022 NFL Draft projections and analysis

Matt Johnson

The Detroit Lions entered the NFL offseason in their second year of a rebuild under general manager Brad Holmes and continued to fill out the roster. The early returns from the 2021 draft class are promising, creating more excitement from the fan base for the 2022 NFL Draft.

While the Lions will likely roll with quarterback Jared Goff next season, there is at least the possibility of a draft-night surprise. Quarterback Malik Willis went to Detroit days before the NFL Draft, spending a lot of time with the coaching staff after hanging around them at the Senior Bowl

In terms of the Detroit Lions draft needs, there are holes throughout the roster. Defense proved to be an issue in 2021 and adding an edge rusher, cornerback and linebacker would go a long way. On offense, more weapons are needed to create an even stronger supporting cast for the next quarterback.

Before we dive into our Lions mock draft, let’s examine the picks they currently hold. Of note, the exact compensatory pick draft order isn’t yet official.

2022 Detroit Lions draft picks

  • Round 1: 2nd overall
  • Round 1: 32nd overall (via LAR)
  • Round 2: 34th overall
  • Round 3: 66th overall
  • Round 3: 97th overall
  • Round 5: 177th overall
  • Round 6: 181st overall
  • Round 6: 217th overall

Let’s dive into our 2022 Detroit Lions mock draft, with regular updates provided.

Detroit Lions mock draft: Building a core for the future

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
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There is no Trevor Lawrence-caliber quarterback prospect in the 2022 draft class. Frankly, there isn’t even a Justin Fields-level passer. However, Willis is an intriguing option for Detroit. It will take multiple years to develop him, but there is sky-high potential and we like the core in place as a foundation that would increase the chances of Willis fulfilling his promise. With that acknowledged, we’re betting against him being the 2nd overall pick.

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Even without a franchise-caliber quarterback, Detroit can walk out of the 2022 NFL Draft very happy. A premium edge rusher, an impact wide receiver and multiple starting-caliber talents can all be selected within the top-75 range. Needless to say, Detroit can start to build a strong foundation to help it become a contender in the future.

1st round, 2nd overall: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

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This is the dream scenario for the Detroit Lions. Aidan Hutchinson, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, is coming off a phenomenal season at Michigan. He recorded 74 pressures, 26.5 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks, taking home the Ted Hendricks Award, Lombardi Award and the Lott Impact Trophy. To top it all off, the 6-foot-6 edge rusher is a Michigan native.

Related: NFL defense rankings – Outlooks for top 20 defenses after NFL Draft

Comparing Hutchinson to either Bosa brother is a bit of a stretch and he doesn’t have the elite athleticism we’ve seen from pass rushers drafted No. 1 overall. However, combining a great first set with great hands, excellent power, outstanding instincts and NFL-ready technique will make him a force on Detroit’s defensive line. Drafting Hutchinson also makes Trey Flowers expendable, with a trade or outright release freeing up tons of cap space.

In normal circumstances, Hutchinson never becomes available for Detroit. Given all the buzz about how much the Jacksonville Jaguars love Travon Walker, this outcome might just happen. It’s the perfect way to start out a Lions mock draft.

1st round, 32nd overall: George Pickens, WR, Georgia

NCAA Football: Georgia Pro Day
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The focus in our approach for Detroit is on building a core that both fits the culture this team is building and building a core with an abundance of talent at key positions. That’s why despite the signing of D.J. Chark Jr., we’re prioritizing wide receiver early in the 2022 NFL Draft.

George Pickens looked like a potential superstar a few years ago. A torn ACL in March 2021 derailed any chance of him proving he could play at that level before he became draft-eligible. With the 6-foot-3 receiver fully cleared for game action, he’s a player Detroit needs to target.

Playing with an edge is good and a receiver not afraid to fight has a place on every roster that wants everyone to bite kneecaps. He can show that same mentality in the air at times, using his size and strong hands to make contested catches with defensive backs around him.

We also like this team situationally for him. Pickens likely needs several more months before his explosiveness and route-running ability is back after that ACL tear. The Lions can ease him in, refining how he handles press coverage and helping him transition in and out of routes easier. One thing is for certain, he’s exactly the kind of player we’d want on the field catching passes from a young quarterback.

2nd round, 34th overall: Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn

NCAA Football: Alabama at Auburn
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The best wide receivers are often found in the Southeastern Conference and Roger McCreary frequently came out on top against them in matchups. When quarterbacks tried throwing in his direction, it routinely failed. According to Pro Football Focus, McCreary allowed just 45.3% of targets to be caught in 2021.

The 6-foot cornerback is sticky in coverage with the instincts and fluidity to shadow great receivers without drawing DPIs. In a pass-heavy league with more great pass-catchers coming, the Detroit Lions need McCreary opposite Jeffrey Okudah.

As for why he’s falling into Round 2, it’s because of size. McCreary’s arm length (28 7/8 inches) and height (5-foot-11) aren’t what NFL teams covet at the position. Despite the physical limitations, he showed impressive strength for his size in college and didn’t shy away from press coverage. While his upside and arm length limits him to becoming a CB2, that’s something Detroit can use.

3rd round, 66th overall: Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin

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Off-ball linebacker proved to be one of the Detroit Lions’ biggest weaknesses this past season. A defense that allowed the fifth-most rushing yards per game (135.1) and missed a league-high 132 tackles needs Leo Chenal in the middle. A battering ram in the heart of Wisconsin’s defense, Chenal excels at stopping plays between the tackles. Whether defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn wants to blitz Chenal inside or just let drive the ball carrier into the dirt, he will bring the tenacity, technique and run-stuffing ability the Lions covet.

3rd round, 97th overall: Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois

NCAA Football: Illinois at Purdue
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Safety is another major area of need for the Lions. Enter Kerby Joseph, who exploded this past season as Syracuse’s deep safety with five interceptions and two pass deflections. It thrust him straight onto the radar for the 2022 NFL Draft, capturing scouts’ attention with his playmaking skills and improved versatility. He could replace Will Harris at free safety, providing some help in the deep portion of the field to cut down on the big plays. There would be some growing pains, but Detroit is a great spot for him to improve with time and experience.

Related: 2022 NFL Draft order

Detroit Lions mock draft – Day 3

  • Round 5: 177th overall: Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State
  • Round 6: 181st overall: Jake Ferguson, TE, Wisconsin
  • Round 6: 217th overall: ZaQuandre White, RB, South Carolina