In Pro Football Focus’ recent 2022 first round mock draft, the Detroit Lions leave the convenient chalk picks behind.
The Detroit Lions won’t be in as good a position as a couple other teams with two first-round picks in the 2022 NFL draft, but they’ll be able to address two needs with good young players. With Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux officially declaring, he’s the proverbial chalk pick for the Lions as they line up to have the No. 1 overall selection in April.
But with a high level of talent and a local tie, Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson has been gaining momentum as a candidate to go No. 1 overall to the Lions. In his fresh mock draft on Monday, Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus has the Lions taking Hutchinson first overall.
"Hutchinson has taken his game to a level that has been untouched by anyone else in this class. He just hasn’t been blocked the past two weeks, and his 94.6 overall grade is in the Chase Young range. The Michigan star stays home and gives the Lions a certified game-changer."
PFF Mock: Lions go against the chalk with second first-round pick too
Quarterback will be a position of clear interest for the Lions with their second first-round pick, as will wide receiver if the board in front of them falls a certain way. Renner has them going receiver with that second pick, projected No. 24 overall from the Rams via the Matthew Stafford trade.
"24. DETROIT LIONS (VIA LOS ANGELES RAMS): WR DRAKE LONDON, USCLondon was a shoo-in for the Biletnikoff Award before breaking his ankle in Week 9 against Arizona. He piled up 1,084 yards on 88 catches with 22 broken tackles and 19 contested catches in only eight games."
The current question with London is his progress from that broken right ankle. But by the time the NFL Combine and/or USC’s Pro Day comes, he’ll be something like 4-5 months removed from the injury. By the time the draft comes in late-April, it’ll be roughly six months. So teams will have a good grasp on where he is in his recovery, or if the injury will even still be an issue when the draft proceedings start.
Going with Hutchinson and London in the first round come April feels like a doubly risky approach the Lions don’t necessarily have to take, over a more chalky Thibodeax/(insert quarterback) or (insert name of best wide receiver without a potential injury question) combo. But there is a chance each is the best player available when Detroit is on the clock with those respective picks. And it would be hard to turn away from either guy–especially London if his ankle injury is even close to all the way in his rearview mirror.