The Detroit Lions started nicely on that front, and ultimately built one of the most athletic 2022 draft classes in the league.
Over the first two days of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions added high-end athleticism to their defensive line with Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal. To forget about wide receiver Jameson Williams on that front, one of the fastest and most athletic wide receivers in this draft even considering his ACL tear, would be a mistake. Safety Kerby Joseph, pick No. 97 to wrap up Day 2 for the Lions, shouldn’t be forgotten about either.
The draft is a delicate equation to balance. Production and traits are two prominent pieces, with college situation and role in there prominently too. Ideally, teams find production to go with high-end physical and athletic traits. But on the “you can’t teach that” note, leaning toward size, athleticism, etc. is well-founded.
In the late rounds, leaning towards traits becomes a priority failing anything else. On Day 3, the Lions leaned that way with Virginia Tech tight end James Mitchell, Oklahoma State linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, Jackson State edge rusher James Houston and Arizona State cornerback Chase Lucas.
Detroit Lions had one of the most athletic 2022 draft classes
Via Kent Lee Platte, the creator of Relative Athletic Score, and Next Gen Stats, the Lions had one of the most athletic 2022 draft classes in the league.
Next Gen Stats left out Lucas, who posted an 8.9 Relative Athletic Score.
It’s not that the Lions ignored production and strictly prioritized athletic traits either.
Each member of this draft class had good or notable production at some point during their college career. It might have been for one year in a new position or after transferring (Joseph and Williams), early in his career (Lucas, who stifled opposing receivers’ production over his whole career) or at the FCS level in a new role after transferring (Houston). But production was there somewhere for all eight draft picks.
All the athleticism the Lions added in the 2022 draft won’t matter if many of these guys simply can’t play. But these eight players appear to be “players”, not just athletes.