The Detroit Lions are second on the clock in the NFL Draft. They seem to be narrowing in on a certain position, but which player will they select?
As the 2022 NFL Draft draws nearer, the Detroit Lions seem to be closing in on their priority position. Detroit will go on the clock at No. 2 overall on April 28, and barring a trade down they will make the pick.
The pre-draft process has revealed some critical tidbits of information, and it surrounds the edge rushers. Back at the combine in Indianapolis, Aidan Hutchinson confirmed to NFL Network’s Rich Eisen he spoke with the Lions. General manager Brad Holmes and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn then attended Michigan’s pro day and spoke with Hutchinson.
You don’t need to be a mind reader to know Hutchinson is No. 1 on the Lions’ big board. But the Plymouth, Michigan native may not be there at No. 2. And if he isn’t, it raises an important question.
If the Lions miss out on Hutchinson, this draft features many talented edge rushers. The debate may come down to Georgia’s Travon Walker and Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux.
The case for Kayvon Thibodeaux
Analysts singled out Kayvon Thibodeaux as the most talented prospect in the 2022 class early in the process. Thibodeaux possessed the raw athletic traits and the production worthy of the first overall pick.
After a confusing combine performance, Thibodeaux’s pro day became more important. The Lions recognized that, sending a league-high seven people to Eugene.
Thibodeaux carries some off-field concerns, as pre-draft smoke screens have surfaced. On Thursday, head coach Dan Campbell met with reporters and offered his analysis on Thibodeaux:
"“Hey, listen, he’s an explosive athlete. He’s a playmaker, you know? He’s got a good, quick first step. I mean, he’s something else. He’s pretty special on tape. You just want to make sure that any questions you have, that you have them answered. That’s the best way to say it. Some guys, you can get those questions a lot sooner. Some guys, those questions got answered two months ago. You know? And some, it goes all the way down the line. And that’s top to bottom, that’s across the board, that’s not always just the athletic ability, that’s the other things. So could be the mental, could be anything. That’s just kind of the nature of it.”"
The Lions are crying out for help with their pass rush, and a player of Thibodeaux’s skill level would help. After watching games on tape and live, meeting him at the combine, meeting him at the Oregon Pro Day, and scheduling a visit to Allen Park, the Lions should get all the information they need on Thibodeaux.
The case for Travon Walker
The debate has been between Hutchinson and Thibodeaux for much of the pre-draft process. However, an outrageous performance at the scouting combine rocketed Travon Walker into the conversation. Analysts have compared him to Myles Garrett and others.
The Lions will incorporate more four-man defensive fronts in 2022, and Walker looks like an ideal fit as an edge-setting, run-stopping defensive end. He can lineup all over the line, from the inside to out on the edge.
Like Thibodeaux, the Lions met Walker at the combine. The team followed that up by inviting Walker to a top-30 visit. Walker isn’t a pure speed-rusher like Thibodeaux. Nevertheless, the athletic potential and versatility will surely force the Lions to think hard about Walker at No. 2.
Which direction will the Lions go?
Currently, the wind may be blowing towards Walker. The Lions’ hierarchy like him a lot, and he doesn’t need to answer the tough questions about loving the game. Furthermore, Walker may hold an advantage over Thibodeaux due to his scheme versatility.
Overall, the Lions are in a good position. Whoever they draft at two will be a talented player, but a choice between Walker and Thibodeaux will be difficult. They are two very different players, and it is tough to determine which will enjoy more success in the NFL. Fortunately, the answer will reveal itself and if comes down to those two hopefully the Lions get it right.