Detroit Lions NFL Draft Grades 2022: Aidan Hutchinson stays in Detroit

What are the Detroit Lions' grades for their selections in the 2022 NFL Draft as they look to address their main needs this offseason?

The 2022 NFL Draft has officially kicked off, and the Detroit Lions have made their first selection. As the seven rounds progress and the team makes all of their picks, we will provide a live draft grade and analysis for each of the Detroit Lions’ selections. How do these new prospects fit with the roster, what kind of impact will they have on the team, and what do the team’s needs look like now that the draft is complete?

Make sure to continue to check back as the 2022 NFL Draft continues for live Detroit Lions draft grades and analysis.

Detroit Lions grades for 2022 NFL Draft

What are the Lions’ grades for their selections in the 2022 NFL Draft as they look to address their main needs this offseason?

Round 1, Pick 2: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

The Lions have selected Aidan Hutchinson with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. On the surface, he checks all the boxes. The Michigan defender was dominant in 2021, with 14 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss, 3 deflections, and 2 forced fumbles over the course of the season. He also tested incredibly well athletically, and he flashes that athletic superiority on tape. His hot motor also takes his game a step above.

That said, there are some questions with Hutchinson that put into question his No. 1 worthiness. Hutchinson is relentless, with violent hands. But he struggles to regulate his pad level at 6’6 5/8”. There are times when this pad level prevents him from getting maximum burst off the line. He’s also fairly stiff in the hips, and his below-average length might be easily exploited by NFL tackles. Nevertheless, Hutchinson has a high floor, and he can be a steady pressure producer. But he doesn’t quite have the ceiling you want at No. 1.

Grade: C+

Round 1, Pick 12: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Sending multiple picks to move up 20 spots in the first round, the Lions followed suit and made a bigger splash than the Saints trading up to 11. Needing a big-play threat, the Lions drafted former Alabama WR Jameson Williams. Despite suffering a torn ACL in the CFP National Championship Game back in January, all reports indicate Williams in on track in his recovery and may even be ahead of schedule.

Williams presents game-breaking speed and elite ball-tracking skills. He can take the top off defenses and has soft hands at the catch point. An instant breakout player in 2021, we’re just scratching the surface of the talent and ability he presents. Williams has dynamic playmaking ability. It was a lot to spend in terms of draft capital, but of the playmakers remaining on the board, Williams is the one who is worth it.

Grade: B

Round 2, Pick 46: Josh Paschal, EDGE, Kentucky

The run on edge defenders may be beginning. The Lions selected their second at the position in their first three picks. Despite taking Aidan Hutchinson at No. 2 overall, the Lions grab Josh Paschal from Kentucky to presumably pair with Hutchinson. Paschal is an athletic rush end, but his best attribute is his versatility.

Paschal can rush from the outside or line up as far inside as 3-tech and still get home with pressure. He has great hands and a solid foundation but may struggle from a lack of pass-rush moves as he acclimates to the NFL speed. It’s a murky situation in Detroit along the edge with Hutchinson and Julian Okwara looking promising. There had to be more value elsewhere here for Detroit.

Grade: D+

Round 3, Pick 97: Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois

The Lions continue to add to their defense, this time taking Illinois safety Kerby Joseph with the 97th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Joseph is a great player, especially in coverage. He can be inconsistent coming downhill in run support, but he’s an incredibly long and explosive defender with great range and playmaking ability as a free safety. It’ll be interesting to see how the Lions get him on the field and involved with Tracy Walker III and DeShon Elliott. Nevertheless, Joseph is a high-level talent who goes to a team where he can reach his max potential.

Grade: B+

Round 5, Pick 177: James Mitchell, TE, Virginia Tech

At some point, the Lions were going to target a tight end to file in behind T.J. Hockenson. Brock Wright is a decent depth piece but nothing more. A quality TE2 is still on the list for Detroit, and there’s a chance they got that with James Mitchell. There’s a bit of uncertainty with Mitchell, who played just two games in 2021 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. But Mitchell has good size at 6’4”, 248 pounds, with 33” arms. He’s a smooth athlete in space with good zone awareness, and he has some lead-blocking ability with his mobility and play strength.

Grade: B

Round 6, Pick 188: Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, Oklahoma State

Despite being on the smaller side at 5’11” and 232 pounds, Malcolm Rodriguez has been a statistical standout for the Cowboys with a gaudy amount of production. Dig below the numbers and the size discrimination, and you’ll find the Oklahoma State LB can play ball. He possesses great vision and discipline, and he’s not misled by offensive deception.

Rodriguez can trigger downhill with impressive speed while also showcasing impressive lateral agility to teleport from gap to gap. Plus, he’s adept at evading gaps. Size, shorter arms, and inconsistencies as a tackler have led to him flying under the national radar, but this is a great pickup for the Lions.

Grade: A-

Round 6, Pick 217: James Houston, LB, Jackson State

The Lions got their off-ball linebacker a little bit earlier with Oklahoma State’s Malcolm Rodriguez. Now, they come back in the late sixth and add an on-ball linebacker in James Houston from Jackson State. Houston stands around 6’0”, 244 pounds, but he has massive arms over 34”, and he also has searing explosiveness off the line – emphasized by a 39” vertical.

Houston profiles as a 3-4 pass-rushing OLB. And for the Lions, who have odd-front personnel, he can come in as a stand-up edge rusher on passing downs. Houston found success in this role at Jackson State, with 16.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss this past year. He’s a relentless speed rusher who capitalizes on his traits.

Grade: A

Round 7, Pick 237: Chase Lucas, CB, Arizona State

The Lions can use more depth at cornerback, and in Round 7, Chase Lucas is a phenomenal match there. Lucas will be an older rookie – he’s set to be 25 years old by the start of the season. But Lucas has great physical traits. He’s a bit underweight at 180 pounds, but he has 32” arms and elite explosiveness. He can transition and close quickly in man coverage, and he has the ball skills to convert at the catch point. To add to all this, Lucas is a great locker room add. He was the energetic leader of the Arizona State defense during his time there.

Grade: A

What were the Lions’ biggest needs entering the draft?

  • QB, WR, LB, CB, OL

Unsurprisingly, finding a quarterback remains the biggest need for the Lions after Jared Goff failed to reignite his career in 2021. The emergence of Amon-Ra St. Brown was exciting last year, and Detroit added some short-term receiving options in free agency. However, they need more, especially when it comes to looking longer term.

Defensively, they have needs across different areas. They could upgrade all three levels. However, linebacker and cornerback stand out as needing the most improvement in 2022 on that side of the ball.

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