The Detroit Lions proactively addressed their defensive line in the draft, and Pro Football Focus has duly noted it.
The Detroit Lions used six of their eight 2022 draft picks on defense, and two of the first three were edge rushers (Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal). They also happened to be two of the most athletic edge rushers in the draft.
Lions defensive line coach Todd Wash has noted how much better his unit will be now, along with a shift in schemed aggression. Others have noticed how much better Detroit’s defensive line looks sure to be.
Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus outlined units he sees as the most and least improved in the NFL after the draft.
Under “most improved”, the Lions defensive line is atop the list.
Detroit Lions defensive line the most improved unit in the league?
Here’s what Linsey wrote:
"With how the Lions have addressed the past two offseasons, there’s no doubt general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell want to build this roster back up through the trenches. Oregon tackle Penei Sewell was the headliner of a 2021 Lions draft class where the first three selections attacked the offensive and defensive lines. Detroit followed that up by adding two top-50 players on PFF’s big board to its defensive line in the 2022 NFL Draft.It’s difficult to see Aidan Hutchinson failing to produce in Detroit. The 6-foot-7, 268-pound edge defender out of Michigan might not quite be the athlete that No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker is, but he did earn 95th percentile or better finishes in the change-of-direction drills (shuttle and three-cone). And from a production standpoint, Hutchinson graded out just below the elite Myles Garrett–Nick Bosa–Chase Young tier over his college career.Detroit’s second-round selection, Josh Paschal, is an explosive 270-pound edge defender out of Kentucky. He’s not going to consistently win as a pass-rusher, but he will push the pocket and can line up both inside and outside depending on the front. Paschal is coming off a career-best 90.0 PFF grade with the Wildcats in 2021."
With Hutchinson and Paschal joining Charles Harris, Romeo Okwara and Julian Okwara, the Lions now have a deep and intriguing rotation of edge rushers. Sixth-round pick James Houston could also stick and add a piece to that mix.
With how bad the pass rush was as a whole last year, the Lions could really only improve things. But the defensive line being cited as the most improved unit in the entire league post-draft is something, and the investment of two top-50 overall picks was as practical as it was notable.
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