Round 3-S Kerby Joseph
Round 5-TE James Mitchell
Round 6-LB Malcolm Rodriguez
Round 7-CB Chase Lucas
Late on Day 2 and on Day 3 of the draft, the Lions added depth to four areas that needed it.
Joseph only had one year as a safety at Illinois, but he had five interceptions and looks like an ideal ballhawk to pair with Tracy Walker.
Mitchell adds upside to the tight end depth chart behind T.J. Hockenson. Like Williams he suffered a torn ACL last season, but his came in September and he might be good to go for mandatory minicamp in June.
Lucas adds instant experience and versatility to the Lions’ cornerback mix. He’s now the third-oldest corner on the team, and he played outside as well as in the slot at Arizona State.
An easy favorite for me from this group is Rodriguez. He was highly productive over multiple seasons at Oklahoma State, and he tested out very well athletically during the pre-draft process. A lack of size was overblown, and made him a real steal for the Lions.
Joseph, Rodriguez and Lucas could all land significant roles as rookies, either right away or eventually if/when they prove themselves to be better than incumbent peers. Three potential starters (at least by role and snap count) on the defense, either in 2022 at some point or more likely in 2023, on rookie contracts befitting their status as third, sixth and seventh-round picks respectively, is an obvious financial bargain for the Lions.
A bold prediction to end–Joseph and Rodriguez will both start double-digit games in 2022, setting them up to be locked into starting spots from the start in 2023.