Detroit Lions added some serious athletic juice to their defensive line

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Lions double-dipped on edge rushers with two of their first three picks in this draft, and they also added two high-end athletes.

The Detroit Lions came in near the bottom of the league in pass rush metrics accross the board last season. Take away Charles Harris’ breakout campaign (7.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hits, 34 pressures) and it looks a good bit worse.

Romeo Okwara is working his way back from a torn Achilles’, and Julian Okwara is a promising player who may be ready to take the next step. So edge rusher stood as clear need for Detroit, and they had Aidan Hutchinson fall into their laps at No. 2 overall.

In the second round, the Lions double-dipped on edge rushers by taking Josh Paschal at No. 46. The double-dip at that position so early was easy to turn a side-eye at, with needs at safety and linebacker that seemed far more urgent.

Detroit Lions added two high-end athletes to their defensive line

Via Kent Lee Platte, Hutchinson posted a 9.86 Relative Athletic Score, which ranked 20th out of 1,389 defensive ends since 1987 at the the time the mark was posted. Paschal posted a 9.7 RAS, which ranked him 46th out over 1,500 defensive ends at that later point in the process. Hutchinson’s RAS got a lot of attention, while Paschal’s really did not.

NFL Next Gen Stats also had Hutchinson and Paschal ranked very highly as pure athletes. Hutchinson was No. 1 in athleticism score among the edge rushers in this draft, while Paschal was tied for second with Travon Walker, who went No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Not only are Hutchinson and Paschal easy to see as “culture fits” for the Lions, they also both happen to have athleticism scores that are almost unmatched among this year’s class of edge rushers. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn now has some interesting options to consider when creating pass rush packages.

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