It’s already been a crazy week heading toward the start of the 2022 NFL Draft on Thursday.
With sports betting odds jumping around drastically for the top pick, it creates more intrigue for the Detroit Lions in the first round.
Holding the No. 2 and No. 32 pick, the Lions have a chance to really make a splash in upgrading their roster.
With Georgia defensive end Travon Walker established as the betting favorite to be the No. 1 pick, the focus turns to Detroit at No. 2.
John Maakaron, publisher of Sports Illustrated’s FanNation team site All Lions, gives his thoughts on players he thinks could be selected by Detroit by the time Thursday’s first round is complete.
Possible No. 2 selections for the Detroit Lions
The first pick for the Lions comes quickly at No. 2, where the team has a chance to get a game-changing playmaker.
“The Detroit Lions front office, led by general manager Brad Holmes, has done a masterful job of disguising what the team may do with the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft,” Maakaron said. “The team could realistically select up to six different draft prospects that would fill needs on offense and defense. Following the conclusion of the 2021 season, it was a foregone conclusion the team would address their deficiency rushing the passer by targeting one of the premier edge rushers. As the offseason progressed, arguments could also be made for the team targeting a game-changer in the secondary, since the team battled injuries to several defensive backs.”
Here’s three names you could hear at No. 2:
Originally projected to be the No. 1 pick, the Michigan defensive end now finds himself as the clear favorite at No. 2.
Some oddsmakers are listing him as great as a -300 favorite as of Wednesday morning.
The 6-foot-7, 260-pound rush end had 14 sacks and 62 tackles in 2021 while leading the Wolverines to the Big Ten Championship. A Plymouth, Mich. native, Hutchinson seems like a natural fit for the Lions and head coach Dan Campbell.
“A clear favorite of the coaching staff, Hutchinson demonstrates the personality and work ethic that would play well in Detroit’s locker room,” Maakaron said. “The hometown favorite is poised to have a solid and productive 10-year NFL career and is now the favorite to land in Detroit.”
A 6-5, 260-pound defensive end from Oregon, Thibodeaux has all the physical tools to be a standout pass rusher in the NFL.
However, Thibodeaux brings in some questions on his passion for the game and reports surfaced in the last month that Campbell was not a fan.
In 2021, Thibodeaux had 49 tackles and seven sacks for Oregon. He sits with odds in the range of +225 to +350 to be taken No. 2 overall.
“Despite the question marks regarding his work ethic, Thibodeaux is widely regarded as one of the best pass rushers coming out of college,” Maakaron said. “If Hutchinson is off the board, the talented defensive lineman has a strong chance to land in Detroit. General manager Brad Holmes did not make many trips to scout draft prospects, but he and several Lions’ staffers made sure to fly out to Oregon to have a first-hand look at Thibodeaux’s pro day.”
If the Lions really wanted to shake up the NFL Draft, taking the 6-1, 215-pound mobile quarterback from Liberty would certainly do that.
Willis is coming off a 2021 season that saw him throw for 2,857 yards and 27 touchdowns. He also rushed for 878 yards and 13 scores.
Detroit got a close look at Willis during the Senior Bowl and he is listed at -155 to be the first quarterback selected in the draft by BetMGM Michigan.
The Lions have had praise for starting quarterback Jared Goff, but Holmes has said he would be comfortable drafting a quarterback to sit behind him.
“Widely regarded as the best prospect at the quarterback position, Detroit could take a flier on the speedy signal-caller,” Maakaron said. “Willis has raw ability, but must sit for a season to learn the pace and speed of NFL offenses. The Liberty offense was not all that complex, yet Willis struggled at times with turnovers. While I do not envision Detroit drafting him, it is still a possibility at this point in the process.”
Possible picks at No. 32 in the NFL Draft
The real intrigue for the Lions likely will come at the end of the first round.
With a lot of positions of need, Detroit could go a number of ways with this pick. That includes potentially trading out of it.
Should Detroit stay put, here’s three names you could hear being called to end the first round.
Dean is a 6-foot, 225-pound linebacker out of Georgia. He had 72 tackles, six sacks and two interceptions to help lead the Bulldogs to the national championship last season.
Currently, DraftKings Sportsbook lists Dean with an Over/Under draft position of 30.5. The over sits at -130, while the under is at +100.
Dean also is listed at -225 to be drafted in the first round.
With linebacker certainly a position of need for the Lions, Dean has to be on Detroit’s radar.
“Many are hoping Dean falls to Detroit at No. 32. The 6-foot, 225-pounder has the potential to land in Detroit and immediately boost the productivity of the team’s linebackers unit,” Maakaron said. “He’d be a home-run pick for Holmes and Co. at No. 32.”
Another Georgia linebacker, Walker stands 6-4 and weighs 240 pounds.
During Georgia’s championship season, Walker had 63 tackles with 1.5 sacks. His 6-foot-8 wingspan and 4.52 speed make him an attractive prospect for the Lions, who are limited across the board at linebacker.
Walker is listed with an Over/Under of 32.5 for draft position. The over is at +105, while the under is at -135.
He also is listed at -135 by DraftKings to be taken in the first round.
“Detroit must upgrade at linebacker, as the team brought back Alex Anzalone and are hoping Derrick Barnes continues to develop,” Maakaron said. “Walker is considered by many pundits as among the best tacklers in the entire draft class.”
A 6-3, 225-pound receiver from Arkansas, Burks could give the Lions a needed big target at the position.
While Amon-Ra St. Brown had a standout rookie season in the slot, the Lions still lacked any downfield threats for Goff to throw to.
Burks can fit that mold. However, can the Lions expect him to be around?
DraftKings lists his Over/Under Draft Position at 23.5, with the Over at -105 and the Under at -125. His odds to be a first-round pick sit at -650.
“Detroit must continue to find playmakers to aid Goff in his efforts to perform better in 2022 than he did in his Lions debut campaign in 2021,” Maakaron said. “While his workout numbers have been average, Burks’ game tape shows a player with real game-changing ability. Playing alongside St. Brown and Detroit’s other receivers could make his jump to the NFL a much smoother transition. Burks has the ability to make plays and make them regularly, if he is drafted in the correct offense and plays with the right quarterback.”
The 2022 NFL Draft gets started on Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN, ABC and the NFL Network. For more coverage of the draft and the Detroit Lions, check out our Lions Draft Guide.