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Detroit Lions' 2022 NFL Draft Grades

SI All Lions provides its grades for the picks made by the Detroit Lions during the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Detroit Lions enter year two of their rebuild with general manager Brad Holmes, who once again was calling the shots for the Lions during the 2022 NFL Draft. With limited expectations for the upcoming season and many holes on the roster, the main goal should be adding prospects at almost every position.

The pressure is on Holmes to build this team from the ground up through the draft. That’s what good general managers do.

Now, draft grades immediately following the draft can be rather pointless, but it is just a good way to express general feelings about each selection. We won’t truly know these players' impact for a few years.

Let’s dive into each individual pick now, as well as grade Holmes for the quality of the 2022 draft class.

Grading scale:

  • A = Great
  • B = Good
  • C = Average
  • D = Poor
  • F = Horrible

Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

(First round, No. 2 overall)

  • 6-foot-7
  • 260 pounds
  • 1.61-second 10-yard split
  • 6.73-second 3-cone
  • Logan’s big board rank: No. 1

The consensus top prospect in the draft fell to the Lions at second overall. I don’t need to go into great detail with Hutchinson, as his strengths and weaknesses are pretty well known. But, the Michigan native has a high floor and very high ceiling, as well. In terms of pure athleticism, he is more athletic than the Bosa brothers -- a comparison that is frequently brought up. The limited upside narrative surrounding Hutchinson is puzzling to me. His 3-cone time -- which is one of the most important drills for an EDGE -- is unreal for his size, as well. In short, Hutchinson can do it all at an elite level, and has the personality and demeanor that is a perfect match for head coach Dan Campbell and the Lions.

Grade: A

Personal selection: Hutchinson

Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

(First round, No. 12 overall)

  • 6-foot-2
  • 179 pounds
  • Logan’s big board rank: No. 13

I have a lot to unpack with this pick, and it doesn’t seem like a popular opinion. So, let me fully explain.

The first part: the trade. With the Lions moving up a whopping 20 spots in the first round, most years would require another first-round pick in compensation to move up that far. The Lions only gave up a high third-round pick, and moved down 12 spots in the second round. But, this draft is not like most years. The value comes in the middle rounds, due to the depth of this class. 

I was a proponent pre-draft of the Lions moving down as much as possible, even for a slightly less value in return. Throw as many darts at the dartboard in the middle rounds, especially for a team that has plenty of holes to fill. 

Instead, the Lions lost a third-rounder and player who I would have assumed to be a starter at that selection. Now, the trade-off is that the Lions hopefully drafted a “game-changer," while only possibly losing a middle-round starting quality player. It’s no secret that the Lions need true playmakers, and Williams has that ability.

Next, let’s discuss Williams as a prospect. 

As a junior and at just 20 years old in 2021, Williams racked up a myriad of accolades in his first and only season at Alabama: First-team All-American, first-team All-SEC, to go along with being the SEC leader in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Williams tore his ACL in the national championship game in January, which likely led to him falling a bit down draft boards.

Make no mistake, Williams just isn’t fast. He possesses bonafide elite speed. Even in a league filled with the world’s best athletes, Williams stands out above the rest. Alabama reportedly tracked him at speeds up to 23 miles per hour. 

Just for comparison, the fastest speed tracked in the NFL in most seasons is usually just above 22 miles per hour. Speed kills in the NFL. 

However, at receiver, many of the league’s best didn’t run blazing 40-yard dash times. There are plenty of different ways receivers win at the NFL level. 

Going back to the draft value of a wideout, a good majority of the NFL’s top wideouts were selected after the first round, as well -- a testament to just how deep the receiver position is seemingly every year in the draft. The receiver position is for some reason getting widely overpriced, considering where you can find solid options in the draft and at a fraction of the cost.

To nitpick, Williams needs to develop his releases against press coverage, and isn’t great in the rare contested-catch situations (where he isn’t running away from defenders). Williams' flaws aren’t glaring, and his speed compensates for it.

As a true "X" receiver, I like players who play physical through contact, have solid body control and can pluck the ball out of the air even when covered.

The last quick point: Should his ACL injury be worrisome? 

With modern medicine, William’s current progression and the Lions having the luxury of bringing him along slowly, the injury doesn’t concern me much.

Overall, I’m super excited to have Williams' skill set on the Lions' roster. However, I’m not convinced that trading up for a speed receiver was better than keeping pick No. 66 in this specific draft. Obviously, I hope I’m wrong.

Grade: B-

Personal selection: S Kyle Hamilton

Joshua Paschal, DL, Kentucky

(Second round, No. 46 overall)

  • 6-foot-3
  • 268 pounds
  • 1.57-second 10-yard split
  • 37.5-inch vertical jump
  • Logan’s big board rank: No. 54

This pick was maybe a little bit of a surprise. Doubling down on the defensive line shouldn’t have been unexpected, though, given the Day 2 talent left on the board at the position. I also don’t feel it was a reach by any means, either -- like I saw a few fans bring up. In saying that, I still think there were quite a few other prospects with more defined positions that I would have preferred.

When I evaluated Paschal, his film was undoubtedly impressive against the run. He lives in the backfield. I just didn’t know where he would line up at the next level, given his listed weight of 278 pounds. He was everywhere along the defensive line for Kentucky. 

As a bit of a tweener, it takes a coaching staff that has a clear plan for him, which seems like it shouldn’t be an issue (although is often easier said than done). Fortunately, I have confidence that defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn will bring out Paschal’s strengths and use him properly.

For a man his size, he has some serious explosion, understanding of leverage and gap shooting ability, which is perfect for a defensive tackle. On the edge, he seems a bit stiff. Thus, it's probably no coincidence, as to why he decided to not participate in agility drills.

At the end of the day, I see Paschal as more of a rotational player who will be a great base end on rushing downs and will rush the passer more from the interior. If the Lions do want to deploy some odd-front looks as well, he would line up as a five-tech.

It would also make sense if the Lions' coaching decided to bulk him up, back around 280 pounds. But, we will see.

Grade: C-

Personal selection: WR George Pickens

Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois

(Third round, No. 97 overall)

• 6-foot-1

• 203 pounds

• 79.5-inch Wingspan

• 38.5-inch vertical jump

• Logan’s big board rank: No. 51

A player I had listed in my draft “wants” for the Lions, the selection of Joseph fills a big need, along with bringing great value at the end of the third round. Despite being a late bloomer and a one-year starter, he still hasn't turned 22. I mention his age, because Joseph may lack on-field experience. Yet, with that said, he has room to develop even more because of his youth.

Joseph has the intrinsic ball-hawking gene you just can’t teach. When the ball is in the air, he uses his elite length, impressive vertical and his former wide receiver skills to win in contested catch situations. 

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He was tied for the most interceptions (five) at the collegiate level a season ago, and boasted Pro Football Focus’ top coverage grade for this year’s safeties class. At the beginning of 2021, as a relative unknown, he parlayed an inspiring year into a Senior Bowl invite and ultimately a third-round pick.

This year’s safety class was seemingly filled with more box, slot and strong safety types. That’s not Joseph, though. 

Deployed as a single-high safety in Illinois' defense, he has decent enough range to play that role in the NFL, but probably is more suited for cover-3 or split-zone looks (which is what the Lions frequently use).

Look for Joseph to see plenty of playing time on defense early on as well, specifically as a staple on special teams.

Grade: A

James Mitchell, TE, Virginia Tech

(Fifth round, No. 177 overall)

• 6-foot-4

• 249 pounds

• Logan’s big board rank: No. 174

The majority of Mitchell’s 2021 season was lost due to an ACL tear. Once again, the Lions took advantage of an injury to nab a player who likely would have gone higher in the draft if healthy. 

On a positive note, Mitchell should be good to go by the start of the upcoming season. As a player, Mitchell does everything well, but maybe nothing exceptional. Considering the Lions just need a well-rounded tight end behind T.J. Hockenson, Mitchell can fill that role.

In 2020, when Mitchell was healthy, his 3.03 yards-per-route run was the second-best mark in the FBS -- behind only the Atlanta Falcons' Kyle Pitts -- for tight ends with at least 20 targets. Mitchell has some decent athleticism, and showed he can catch the ball on all levels.

In the run game, he is serviceable, and his mistakes definitely aren’t from a lack of effort. Mitchell may never be a dynamic playmaker, but he appears to have a solid makeup for a high-end No. 2 tight end.

Grade: B

Personal selection: OL Jamaree Salyer

Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, Oklahoma State

(Sixth round, No. 188 overall)

  • 5-foot-11
  • 232 pounds
  • 4.52-second 40-yard dash
  • 39.5-inch vertical jump
  • 36-reps bench press
  • Logan’s big board rank: No. 154

If Rodriguez was just one or two inches taller, he would have likely been in the conversation on Day 2 of the draft. 

He's a highly productive player who is always around the ball, has great athleticism and had the most bench-press reps for any linebacker in the 2022 draft class. He was the only FBS linebacker in the class who played at least 50 percent of defensive snaps (out of 126 linebackers), and was graded in the top seven by Pro Football Focus in both run and pass defense.

He started 48 consecutive games. So, despite being on the smaller side, he is very durable. I think there is a chance he could see considerable snaps on defense his rookie season, given the Lions' linebackers room. If not, he can definitely contribute on special teams, where he saw 538 snaps while at Oklahoma State.

At this stage in the draft, you just want to find someone who can contribute to your football team in some fashion. Rodriguez checks that box.

Grade: A

Personal selection: TE Grant Calcaterra

James Houston, EDGE, Jackson State

(Sixth round, No. 217 overall)

• 6-foot-0

• 244 pounds

• 1.56-second 10-yard split

• 39-inch vertical jump

• Logan’s big board rank: No. 277

Houston was a member of the Florida Gators, before transferring to Jackson State to play under head coach Deion Sanders. During his tenure in the SEC, his best statistical season came in 2019, when he finished with 3.5 sacks. 

Last year, at the FCS level, he was dominant. He earned plenty of hardware, as he was awarded FCS All-American and first-team All-SWAC honors while leading the team in tackles for loss (24.5) and sacks (16.5).

Houston has excellent explosion scores, as indicated by his 10-yard split and vertical jump. And, even though he is just a hair over 6-feet tall, his 34-inch arms help offset his shorter stature. 

Unfortunately, his burst doesn’t translate into the agility metrics, as he struggled in those drills. Linear athletes can be more than useful at times. But, in a now-loaded EDGE room, it’s a bit difficult to see a path to the Lions' 53-man roster for Houston, barring injury.

Grade: C

Personal selection: WR Bo Melton

Chase Lucas, CB, Arizona State

(Seventh round, No. 237 overall)

• 5-foot-11

• 180 pounds

• 4.48-second 40-yard dash

• 39-inch vertical jump

• Logan’s big board rank: No. 202

With the Lions' final selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, the organization selected the 25-year-old super senior. He was redshirted in 2016, but followed that up with a Freshman All-American and second-team All-Pac-12 2017 campaign. 

Lucas started for the Sun Devils for five consecutive seasons. The slender-built cover man hasn’t had an interception since 2019. However, he still gets his hands on plenty of balls, and didn't allow a single touchdown in 2022. He has some great short-area quickness, with inside and outside versatility, too.

As for his weaknesses, he gets caught peeking into the backfield a little too often, and bites on fakes. Again, in the seventh round, no prospect is going to be perfect. 

No matter the case, though, at least he has plenty of experience with the requisite athleticism you look for in a corner. 

Depending on how he plays throughout training camp and the preseason, it’s very possible he could sneak onto the 53-man roster, especially given the uncertainty and injuries of the Lions' cornerbacks group.

Grade: B

Personal selection: S Markquese Bell

OVERALL GRADE

For the second straight year, I feel very happy coming away from a Lions draft. It’s great to see a priority on athletic traits and players who can make plays. 

The first few picks always make up a large majority of a final draft grade, but even the later selections in this case seem to fill specific roles and needs on this team. 

As always, grades are pointless, and the class can’t truly be evaluated until these players suit up in the NFL. As of now, though, it sure looks like the Lions landed a few starters with high ceilings, a few role players and a couple of back-of-the-roster types.

There were no big reaches, no glaring whiffs and Holmes matched value on the board with needs. That’s really all you can ask for coming out of a draft, and Holmes seemingly accomplished that goal.

Final grade: B+