Detroit Lions NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2022: Aidan Hutchinson and Jameson Williams Part of a Culture-Shifting Draft in Detroit

It isn’t always a given that a team will make the most of the extra draft compensation they receive from trading away star players. Past Lions’ regimes would have floundered in the face of the opportunity to shape the future of the franchise with young talent. However, head coach Dan Campbell, general manager Brad Holmes, and their staff knocked this draft out of the park and are building the foundation for what should become a legitimate winning football team in Detroit in the near future. This article will include a full draft recap with analysis and grades for each of Detroit’s draft picks.

Detroit Lions Draft Picks 2022

Round 1 No. 2 DE Aidan Hutchinson
Round 1 No. 12 WR Jameson Williams
Round 2 No. 46 DE Josh Paschal
Round 3 No. 97 S Kerby Joseph
Round 5 No. 177 TE James Mitchell
Round 6 No. 188 LB Malcolm Rodriguez
Round 6 No. 217 DE James Houston IV
Round 7 No. 237 CB Chase Lucas

Overall Draft Grade: A+

The Lions came into this draft with some of the most capital in the NFL, and they took advantage with pick after pick of great value. Even Day 3 provided solid value. Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal continue to allow Detroit to bolster their front seven with the most technically refined pass-rusher in the draft in Hutchinson and one of the best run defenders in college football from a season ago in Paschal. Jameson Williams provides an elite deep-ball threat alongside a sneaky-good collection of skill-position talent.

Detroit also deserves a ton of credit for the trades it made. Sending Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles couldn’t have been easy, but it was time to move on from their franchise passer, and they got a substantial return in draft capital that they’re putting to good use. In addition, they arguably swindled the Vikings in their trade-up for Williams and will torment their division mates for years to come with the best downfield receiver in the draft. Lions fans have to be thrilled with the direction of what has been a rudderless franchise for far too long.

Detroit Lions Draft Grades 2022

Round: 1 Pick: 2 / Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

The Lions reportedly made the NFL mad with how quickly they turned in the draft card with Aidan Hutchinson’s name on it, and it’s hard to blame them given the opportunity to draft the hometown hero who was an All-American and Heisman finalist in 2021. Hutchinson is an incredibly refined pass-rusher with great awareness and football IQ. His work ethic is also legendary and helped set the tone for the best Michigan football season in a long time. Hutchinson is also an elite athlete, though, and he deserves more credit for that – he had the fastest 3-cone drill in combine history at 6.73 seconds and finished with a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.87. The only possible negative in Hutchinson’s game would be his 8th percentile arm length, limiting his long-term upside as a pass-rusher. Still, this was the right pick as Hutchinson will be a foundational piece on defense for the next decade for Detroit.

Grade: A+

Round: 1 Pick: 12 / Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

After hearing positive news throughout the pre-draft process regarding Jameson Williams’s injury recovery, I gradually moved him up my wide receiver rankings until he became my WR1 in the class. If he had never torn his ACL, he would have been viewed that way on a much more universal basis. Nonetheless, the Lions took advantage of his slide down boards with a massive trade-up with the Vikings. Detroit gets a ton of credit for jumping at this opportunity, especially given their value in the trade. According to the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart, Detroit received 1,640 points of draft capital while Minnesota received 1,410 points – that 230-point difference is equivalent to a third-round pick. Williams is an excellent athlete whose downfield speed fundamentally changes the way defenses will prepare to face the Lions. It’s easy to envision him burning opposing defenses, particularly the Vikings, for years to come.

Grade: A+

Round: 2 Pick: 46 / Josh Paschal, DE, Kentucky

I saw mixed reviews on the Josh Paschal selection here, but I loved the pick. Paschal continues to bolster what is quickly becoming a loaded defensive line in Detroit, and he can provide pass-rushing and run-stopping productivity. Last season, Pro Football Focus (PFF) charted Paschal with a 12.4% run-stop rate, which was the best among all Power Five players. He packs a powerful punch with his rocked-up 6’3”, 268-pound frame, and he pushed 30 reps on the bench at the combine with ease. With a 1.57-second 10-yard split, he also explodes off the line of scrimmage. With Hutchinson and Paschal joining the Okwara brothers, Charles Harris, and last year’s draft picks Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill, Detroit has an abundance of explosive, powerful athletes along the defensive line.

Grade: A

Round: 3 Pick: 97 / Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois

Kerby Joseph became a full-time starter for the first time in 2021, and his production that season was very impressive. His completion percentage allowed of 47.4% in 2021 was the best among all safeties drafted this year, and his forced incompletion percentage of 21% was second behind only Jaquan Brisker. Joseph did that while playing in a tough Big Ten, and his impressive ball production will translate to the NFL as a ball-hawking back-end threat. Joseph lacks the range to be a single-high free safety, and with the recently resigned Tracy Walker often struggling in that role, it will be interesting to see how the Lions scheme their defense. It would likely be best to play in more Cover 2 and Cover 3 fits to allow Walker and Joseph to cover less ground overall and make plays at the catch point when targeted.

Grade: A-

Round: 5 Pick: 177 / James Mitchell, TE, Virginia Tech

After tearing his ACL early on last season, James Mitchell has been slept on through the pre-draft process. However, he’s a big-play threat who averaged 16.1 yards per reception at Virginia Tech. Mitchell didn’t test in athletic drills as he’s still recovering from the injury, but the 6’4”, 249-pound tight end flashes intriguing athleticism on film. He has the size and effort to play as an in-line tight end with more blocking responsibilities, but his best role long-term may be as a big-bodied slot receiver who can make big receiving plays downfield.

Grade: B

Round: 6 Pick: 188 / Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, Oklahoma State

I’m surprised Malcolm Rodriguez lasted this long in the draft, despite being an undersized linebacker at 5’11”, 232 pounds. He will be one of the smallest linebackers in the NFL, and his 2nd-percentile 73” wingspan and 1st-percentile 30” arms will limit his range. However, Rodriguez is an elite athlete with a 9.48 RAS and a 97th percentile 1.52-second 10-yard split in the 40-yard dash. Despite recently resigning former first-round pick Jarrad Davis, the Lions’ linebacker room is wide open and Rodriguez winning a significant snap share this season wouldn’t be shocking.

Grade: A-

Round: 6 Pick: 217 / James Houston IV, DE, Jackson State

James Houston IV is coming off a massive breakout season at Jackson State that included 16.5 sacks, the second-most in FCS, as he led his team to the most sacks in the conference. Houston is new to the defensive end position, but the upside is there for his impressive production to continue into the NFL, especially with his elite 1.56-second 10-yard split and 39-inch vertical. Houston’s linebacker background could also lead to him playing that position for the Lions. Still, his ability to carve out a spot on the final 53-man roster will likely depend on his ability to contribute to special teams with how loaded the Lions suddenly are along the defensive line.

Grade: B-

Round: 7 Pick: 237 / Chase Lucas, CB, Arizona State

Chase Lucas is a seasoned player as a five-year starter for Arizona State, and his 32 forced incompletions since 2017 rank first in the Pac-12 per PFF. Lucas is a bit undersized at 5’11”, 188 lbs, especially with a limited 31st percentile 74 1/2” wingspan, but his 39-inch vertical and 1.52-second 10-yard split are very impressive. He tested with an 8.90 RAS. Despite the long-time starting experience, Lucas’s tackling technique needs work, and it will be difficult for him to hold his own against physical wideouts with his slight frame. However, the leadership traits and athleticism are more than enough to take a chance on in the seventh round.

Grade: B+

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. With my educational background in the sports business and a strong knowledge of the inner workings of professional and collegiate sports, I hope to tell enthralling stories about the world of sports as it unfolds around me.

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