Detroit Lions go safe route in Mel Kiper Jr’s first 2022 mock

Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux enters the stadium for the game against Oregon State on Nov. 27, 2021.Eug 111428 Uofb 07
Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux enters the stadium for the game against Oregon State on Nov. 27, 2021.Eug 111428 Uofb 07 /

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has released his first 2022 mock draft, and the Detroit Lions didn’t stray too far off the board with a lot to be determined.

If it’s not draft season until ESPN’s Todd McShay releases his first mock draft, the release of his colleague Mel Kiper’s Jr.’s first mock draft isn’t far behind as a launching point, tent pole, etc. On Wednesday morning, Kiper released his first 2022 mock (ESPN+/Insider subscription required)–including of course the Detroit Lions duo of first-round picks.

Will there’s a scenario where Detroit’s second-first round pick lands as high as No. 26 based on Divisional Round results, current draft order would have it at No. 28 and that’s where Kiper has the pick that comes to the Lions via the Rams.

Detroit Lions go safe and expected route in Kiper’s mock

Kiper has the Jacksonville Jaguars taking Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson No. 1 overall, leaving the Lions with what should be the easy pick of Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux (h/t to MLive).

"That’s why it’s a no-brainer to take Thibodeaux or Hutchinson here, whoever is still on the board,” Kiper writes. “Thibodeaux, who was a No. 1 overall high school recruit, has elite upside. His get-off at the snap is lightning-quick, and though he’s still developing secondary pass-rush moves, he doesn’t need them when he can blow by offensive tackles before they’re out of their stance. Thibodeaux had half as many sacks (seven) as Hutchinson this season, but he had the second-best pressure rate in the country (17.8%).”"

In McShay’s first mock for 2022, he had the Lions taking North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell. Kiper followed that suit.

"Howell is a tricky evaluation, and he could definitely drop to Round 2,” Kiper said. “He looked like a potential top-10 pick after his sophomore season in 2020. At the beginning of the 2021 season, though, he really struggled, and he put a lot of bad tape out there while throwing to a completely new set of pass-catchers. He settled back in and improved down the stretch, finishing with 24 touchdown passes and nine picks, plus 11 rushing scores. He throws a beautiful deep ball and has tremendous touch on passes.”"

The Lions will get a closer look at Howell down at the Senior Bowl, as he’s one of the signal callers on the American team helmed by Dan Campbell’s coaching staff. As Kiper alluded to, Howell struggled to start the 2021, with a new set of weapons around  him after an exodus of talent to the NFL (Michael Carter, Javonte Williams, Dyami Brown, Dazz Newsome).

The Lions taking Thibodeaux No. 2 and then going quarterback with the second first-round pick is a decidely unexciting idea. But boring is not always, or very often, wrong and general manager Brad Holmes is in a position where there’s multiple viable directions to take with the late first-round pick.

Next. Did Alex Anzalone hint as his departure in free agency?. dark