Brad Holmes is heading into his second draft as the asset-laden Detroit Lions general manager.
The Lions will have nine picks to start the draft, with the ability to make tricks and trades.
With Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell working closely together, the team will look to build on what they believed was a strong end to the 2021 season by putting together a strong draft class.
Here is my first try at predicting what the Lions will do in the 2022 NFL Draft.
No. 2 overall – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
No need to make things harder than they need to be. Hutchinson is the top EDGE prospect, just ahead of Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux. Although both are great players, Hutchinson had a better 2021 season and exploded onto the scene.
Between the two top EDGE prospects, the Lions really can’t go wrong. Both are believed to have huge potential at the professional level. In this scenario, Detroit chooses to stick with state product.
No. 32 overall (via Los Angeles Rams) – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Wide receiver is a clearly needed position for the Lions heading into the offseason.
Amon-Ra St. Brown was dynamite in the second half, but many of the team’s other wide options are in contract years with uncertain statuses through 2022.
Olave was the “Robin” to Garrett Wilson’s “Batman” at Ohio State, serving as a solid deep threat. He is an excellent road runner with good hands, who is more than capable of getting the better of defenses. He also has a good height, at 6 feet 1 inch.
With this addition, the Lions are adding another young point guard. Seeing him with St. Brown would certainly intrigue fans.
No. 34 overall – Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
Perhaps the biggest decision the Lions will make this offseason is the fate of safety Tracy Walker III. Even if he returns, the team needs some extra help in the secondary.
Enter Hill, who has done various things for the Wolverines defense.
During his three seasons at Michigan, Hill played all over the high school. He has shown an ability to play in slot coverage, while also serving as a good defender of the gap in run situations. This versatility is what the Lions need as injuries have forced the team to play several players out of position in 2021.
At Hill, Detroit would have a defensive playmaker who could be plugged in anywhere on the back half of the unit.
No. 66 overall – Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
Harris has been rock solid for Alabama in 2021, clogging the running lanes for the Crimson Tide defense all season long. The Lions have shown an affinity for this type of player, signing Derrick Barnes in the fourth round in 2021.
Harris may have a higher cap than Barnes, as he appears to be on par, if not better, as an overall athlete.
The physical run stopper is also good for cover against crossing roads, which is an important skill to have in his position.
No. 97 overall (compensatory selection expected for New York Giants signing WR Kenny Golladay) – Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
Bryant didn’t have the shine that teammate Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner got in Cincinnati, but he was very good on his own. He’s a long, lanky defender who’s solid in man-to-man coverage.
The Lions have plenty of young defensive backs, but adding another corner to the mix puts pressure on Jeff Okudah to perform. Competition is never a bad thing.
No. 176 overall (projected competitive pick) – Cade Mays, OL, Tennessee
A versatile offensive lineman, Mays is a former five-star prospect out of high school. He played the entire offensive line, but many believe his best fit would be at guard. The Lions need depth in this position, which makes Mays a good choice.
No. 179 overall – Connor Heyward, TE, Michigan State
Heyward is a converted running back who fits the mold of what Campbell is looking for. He is a physical player who can be used in different ways.
The Lions need a third tight end, and Heyward fits the bill. He will be a good defender, able to do a number of things well.
No. 218 (draft comp. pick) – D’vonte Price, RB, Florida International
Price was a jack of all trades for a struggling CRF program. He is good between tackles and has the speed to excel laterally. There are also pass-catching skills, which will be needed to carve out a role among a crowded group of running backs looking to stay in Detroit.
No. 240 overall – Ellis Brooks, LB, Penn State
In Brooks, the Lions take a chance on a player who needs development. However, this could lead to a big win.
He lacks some of the instincts that other players naturally have. However, he is a talented player who could carve out a special teams role first.
The Lions are all about player development, and Brooks fits exactly that mold.
This article was produced by the staff of Sports Illustrated/All Lions. To learn more, visit si.com/nfl/lions.