Saturday, April 2, 2022

Detroit Lions 2022 NFL Mock Draft Roundup 6.0

Throughout the year and leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft, we will update our Detroit Lions Mock Draft Roundup showing picks for the Detroit Lions from several prominent sites and draft analysts.

The following are picks in recent mock drafts for the Lions:

SI - Kevin Hanson (4/1)

2. Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

If Hutchinson isn't the top pick, the local prospect would be an easy choice for the Lions, but Walker isn't just a consolation prize. In fact, it's possible that the former Bulldog will end up being Jacksonville's choice over Hutchinson. Already an outstanding run defender, Walker's elite combination of strength, length (35½" arms) and athleticism (4.51 40-yard dash at 272 pounds) should allow him to develop into a more productive pass rusher at the next level than he was asked to be on Georgia's star-studded defense.

TRADE - 16. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

If he reaches his full potential, no quarterback in this year's draft class has as much upside as Willis. While he needs to improve his consistency as a passer, the ball jumps out of his hands, and he's dynamic as a rusher. Since the Lions had the opportunity to coach Willis at the Senior Bowl, they have unique insights about him as a prospect. Willis could sit for a season to help ease his adjustment to the NFL before taking the reins, because the Lions can go into 2022 with Jared Goff (who has a potential out in '23).

CBS Sports - Kyle Stackpole (4/1)

2. Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

The Lions would have loved to have gotten Hutchinson, but Walker is a versatile, athletic defensive lineman who can impact the game in a variety of different ways. His eye-opening combine performance pushed him into the conversation of being one of the first players chosen in this draft.

32. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Dean just seems like a Dan Campbell type of player: hard-working, instinctual, productive and a leader. Put him in the middle of the Lions' defense, and he'll immediately elevate those around him.

Yahoo! Sports - Eric Edholm (3/31)

2. Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

Yes, we considered a QB pick and a trade-down scenario here; neither can be ruled out. There might not be a pure fit evident in this spot, but we can easily say that we'd love to see Walker go to a team like this where he can be developed steadily as a pass rusher. There also has been chatter of the Jaguars and Lions flipping picks, so Detroit can get Hutchinson. The top of the draft remains cloudy, which adds to the drama.

32. Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

In the back of our mind, we were thinking about a QB such as Desmond Ridder here. But with Lloyd sliding to this spot, it just feels like a value opportunity. Plus, the Lions pick second in Round 2, two picks away, and can still get a passer or receiver there. Lloyd could immediate vie for one of the starting LB roles.

ESPN - Mike Tannenbaum (3/30)

2. Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

If I'm Detroit, I'm crossing my fingers that Jacksonville goes another way, leaving Hutchinson for an easy win here at No. 2. That's not how things happened, though. And yes, I know the Lions used the No. 3 overall pick on cornerback Jeff Okudah just two years ago, but I also know he has ended up on injured reserve in both of his pro seasons and has been limited to 10 total games. The Lions gave up the NFL's third-best opponent QBR (53.4) last year and still need a corner. Gardner didn't surrender more than 13 yards in a game or a single TD all season in 2021.

32. Matt Corral, QB, Mississippi

Getting the fifth-year option is important for drafting a quarterback. The Ravens used the 32nd pick on Lamar Jackson in 2018, and it gave them an extra year on Jackson's rookie deal. Detroit -- after drafting Gardner earlier -- can do the same with Corral. The Lions have Jared Goff under contract, so there's no need to rush Corral into action, especially because he's still working his way all the way back from an ankle injury. But he's a quick prospect with a smooth release. I'm intrigued by the upside here. - Bucky Brooks (3/29)

2. Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

Adding a versatile front-line athlete with explosive speed, quickness and power will help the Lions create more pressure on passing downs.

32. Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State

The Lions need more athletic defenders on the field to have a chance to close the gap on their rivals. Ebiketie flashes impressive first-step quickness and closing speed as a bend-and-burst rusher off the edge.

The Draft Network - Brentley Weissman (3/28)

2. Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

There have been some rumors that Detroit could fall in love with a quarterback and take one here but I simply don't see a player worthy of this high of a selection at the quarterback position this year. The Lions need to continue loading up on their defensive front and adding a player like Kayvon Thibodeaux just makes too much sense. Thibodeaux is a rare athlete with excellent burst and explosiveness. He is able to win with speed or power and has the flexibility and bend to be a double-digit sack player in his rookie year.

32. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Detroit is in a position to select the best player available and that player is linebacker Nakobe Dean by a long shot. Dean is an undersized linebacker who plays with outstanding instincts and athleticism. He is a tackling machine who has the speed and range to excel in today's NFL.

The Athletic - Beat Writer Mock (3/28)

2. Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

Chris Burke: There are a bunch of other options here: Kyle Hamilton, Travon Walker, a trade down (we tried; no one wanted to come up). In the end, though, the Lions landed back where the draft conversation started for them once they locked into this No. 2 spot. It was a Hutchinson-versus-Thibodeaux debate, and Hutchinson's off the table.

Is Thibodeaux a "sure thing" at the next level? No, but who in this class is? And the reason he jumped off the page for Detroit in the first place is that this Lions defense badly needs a dynamic, game-changing pass rusher. Thibodeaux has the skill set to be that from Day 1. And if he keeps developing as an all-around defender, he could be the type of piece Detroit hasn't had in a long time.

Brugler: If the Jaguars go offensive line at No. 1, there isn't much mystery here. But with Hutchinson likely gone, the Lions could go in a number of different directions (and they will be hoping the phone rings). Based on talent, Thibodeaux belongs in the conversation here, but is he a fit for Detroit's culture and what Dan Campbell is looking to build? Maybe, maybe not. Most around the league believe Travon Walker will be drafted ahead of Thibodeaux, and my guess is that is the direction the Lions would go, but it is easy to understand Chris' pick.

32. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Burke: The board fell so that the Lions could have nabbed Kenny Pickett or Desmond Ridder here as a potential QB of the future (or dangled those prospects to trade out). The remaining receivers were enticing, too. But most -- maybe all -- of those targets should be available at pick 34, when Detroit goes on the clock again. So that made it rather easy to go back to the top of the board, where the best player available matched up with a pressing need. Dean's underwhelming size scaring off other GMs is perfect for the Lions, who just need talent, period, no matter the form. Dean immediately would be the most talented and well-rounded linebacker on this roster.

Brugler: Can't argue with the logic here. Dean is a knee-cap-biting type of player who would not only provide an immediate upgrade at linebacker, but also give the defense another leadership voice. My only argument would be that a fifth-year option is a lot more valuable with a quarterback than a linebacker. And if the Lions plan on drafting a quarterback at No. 34, they should take him at 32 for the extra year and to erase any chance of him being nabbed at pick No. 33.

PFF - Austin Gayle (3/28)

2. Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

The media-driven narrative building around Thibodeaux's on-field effort, off-field interests and overall passion for football has reached ridiculous levels. I, admittedly, have brought more awareness to some of that negative conversation in discussions on the PFF Tailgate podcast but remain convinced a lot of the claims are exaggerated and relatively noisy in terms of projecting on-field success in the NFL.

In interviews with media throughout the pre-draft process, including his podium session at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, Thibodeaux has been adamant about addressing those concerns. His self-confidence is wrongfully viewed as arrogance, and his interest in maximizing the value of his brand is simply intimidating to traditional NFL thinkers -- not an antecedent to coachability or "love of the game" concerns.

That's not to say Thibodeaux is a perfect prospect. More legitimate concerns surrounding his hand usage, pass-rushing technique and ability to string moves together in a pass-rush plan will need to be addressed at the next level for him to reach his maximum potential. But that maximum potential is worth investing in as early as No. 2 overall, if not at the top of April's draft.

32. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Dean possesses many of the traits NFL defenses look for in a modern off-ball linebacker. He's a rangy athlete with insane explosiveness, and that shows up in the passing game when blitzing and in coverage. He earned a 91.6 pass-rushing grade and a 90.5 coverage grade as a key piece of the top-ranked Georgia defense in 2021.

MORE TEAMS: All NFL Team Mock Draft Roundups

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