The Detroit Lions are heading into their second offseason under head coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes. After trading Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams last offseason, the Lions will have an extra first-round pick in the 2022 and 2023 drafts. While the Lions don’t have one massive hole on the roster to fill, Detroit can improve at almost every position. With three selections in the top 35 picks and 10 total picks, the Lions can walk away from this draft with multiple impact rookies. Let’s look at how the Lions could attack the 2022 NFL Draft.
To help with this mock draft, I used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Team Mock Drafts.
Round 1, Pick 2: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
The Lions can take the best player available with all their picks as the roster is full of holes. However, Detroit would love to select Hutchinson with this pick. The Michigan star was an unstoppable force in 2021, totaling 14 sacks and 16.5 tackles for a loss. Meanwhile, the Lions had only one player with more than five sacks last season in Charles Harris. If the Jacksonville Jaguars select Evan Neal with the first overall pick, Hutchinson is all but a lock to become a Lion. However, if Hutchinson ends up in Jacksonville, Kyle Hamilton could be a fallback option for Detroit with this pick.
For more on Hutchinson, check out our scouting report on him.
Round 1, Pick 32: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Many believe the Lions will target a quarterback with this pick. However, that doesn’t make sense for Detroit. The Lions know they will have a top-five pick next year, and the 2023 draft class should have several excellent quarterback prospects. Rather than wasting a pick on a quarterback here, the Lions should spend it on a weapon for the future signal-caller. Amon-Ra St. Brown was a steal in the fourth round last year, but he is the only wide receiver on the roster with a guaranteed future in Detroit. Adding Dotson would give Jared Goff two reliable wide receivers for next season. In his final season at Penn State, Dotson had 13 total touchdowns despite terrible quarterback play.
For more on Dotson, check out our scouting report on him.
Round 2, Pick 34: Daxton Hill, SAF, Michigan
Starting free safety Tracy Walker is an upcoming free agent. While the Lions hope to re-sign him, drafting a replacement is on the table. Even if Walker returns, the depth behind starters Walker and Will Harris is very thin. Furthermore, Harris is entering the final year of his rookie contract next season. Meanwhile, Hill could go in the latter part of the first round. If he is available for the Lions with this pick, Hill should be their selection. In his final year at Michigan, Hill led the team with eight passes defended and two interceptions, both career-highs. His ability to play either safety role will give the Lions versatility on defense.
For more on Hill, check out our scouting report on him.
Round 3, Pick 66: Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
Last year, the Lions found a gem in the fourth round with the selection of Derrick Barnes. However, Jalen Reeves-Maybin is an upcoming free agent and is replaceable. Muma is the latest NFL-caliber linebacker to come out of Wyoming, joining Logan Wilson in 2020. More importantly, Muma was one of the best players during the Senior Bowl week. Not only was he terrific during the week of practice, but he also finished with a game-high nine tackles. Muma had a terrific career at Wyoming, totaling 142 tackles and three interceptions his senior year. Pairing Muma with Barnes would give the Lions an impressive pair of young linebackers.
For more on Muma, check out our scouting report on him.
Round 3, Pick 97: Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
Former first-round pick Jeff Okudah has struggled to stay healthy in his career. He missed seven games his rookie year because of injuries. Last year he tore his Achilles in Week 1 and missed the rest of the season. While the Lions haven’t given up on him yet, they need to add some depth at cornerback. Furthermore, Amani Oruwariye stepped up last year for Detroit. However, he is entering a contract year. During his final two years at Cincinnati, Bryant was a critical part of their dominant defense. He had four interceptions and 18 passes defended over the past two years. Even after spending a third-round pick on Ifeatu Melifonwu last year, the Lions should use a mid-round pick at the cornerback position.
For more on Bryant, check out our scouting report on him.
Round 5, Pick 176: Cade Mays, iOL, Tennessee
After spending the past three picks on defense, now it’s time to focus on the offense. The Lions have their bookend offensive tackles for the next several years in Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell. They also have their franchise center in Frank Ragnow. However, the guard spots could use some work. Mays started his career at Georgia before transferring to Tennessee before the 2020 season. During his time in college football, Mays started at all five positions on the offensive line. Many believe he can start as a rookie at guard. Whether it’s as a starter or top backup, Mays will make Detroit’s offensive line even better next season.
Round 5, Pick 179: Haskell Garrett, DL, Ohio State
Last year, the Lions used a pair of day two selections on defensive linemen Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill. They also acquired Michael Brockers from the Rams. However, Nicholas Williams is an upcoming free agent and likely won’t return. Furthermore, Brockers is likely entering his final year with the Lions. With Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Dalvin Cook, and David Montgomery in the division, the Lions have to be able to stop the run. Garrett has powerful hands and can create problems for offensive linemen in one-on-one situations. During his final season at Ohio State, Garrett had a career-high seven tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks. Pairing him with Onwuzurike and McNeill would give the Lions a talented young defensive line.
Round 6, Pick 217: Abram Smith, RB, Baylor
Smith started his college career playing linebacker at Baylor. However, he switched to running back before the start of the 2021 season. In his lone season as a running back, Smith had over 1,600 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns, and averaged 6.2 yards per rushing attempt. His physical style of play and ability to play special teams will intrigue teams in the later rounds. Meanwhile, Detroit could release Jamaal Williams this offseason and save $3 million in cap space. Pairing Smith with D’Andre Swift and Craig Reynolds would give the Lions a variety of running backs.
Round 7, Pick 231: Nick Muse, TE, South Carolina
The Lions have a superstar in the making at tight end in T.J. Hockenson. Before suffering a season-ending hand injury, Hockenson was having a career year. Unfortunately, the depth behind him is thin. The Lions have several role players behind Hockenson, including 2021 undrafted free agent Brock Wright. However, none of the available options can fill the No. 2 tight end role. While Muse didn’t put up eye-popping numbers at South Carolina, it was because of poor quarterback play. Yet, he is a solid route runner who can quickly find the weak spots in zone coverage. Not only will he provide valuable snaps on offense, but Muse can also play a critical role on special teams.
Round 7, Pick 239: Ty Fryfogle, WR, Indiana
Even after using an early pick on a wide receiver, the Lions should draft another sometime on day three. Currently, the Lions don’t have a physical outside wide receiver on the roster. Adding Fryfogle with their last pick would solve that problem. He does a great job tracking the ball in the air and playing through contact. After a disappointing 2021 season, Fryfogle’s draft stock took a hit. However, if the Lions can land Fryfogle in the seventh round, that’s a value they can’t pass up.
Follow Mike Fanelli on Twitter @Mike_NFL2
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images