2022 NFL Draft Notebook: Detroit Lions 2022 Mock Draft
The Detroit Lions will enter the 2022 NFL Draft with a dilemma on their hands of do they reach for a quarterback with their first pick in the draft or do they take the best available player. The Lions will also face the challenge of filling several needs on both sides of the ball including improving a defense that currently ranks 28th in the NFL and finding some new targets for whoever the team has at quarterback next season.
Along with taking a look at what the Detroit Lions will do in the 2022 NFL this week’s NFL Draft Notebook also looks at the following
- What players helped and hurt themselves with strong bowl games
- The top running backs in the 2022 NFL Draft
- A prospect each AFC East team should look at with their top pick
- And much more
Detroit Lions Mock Draft
Round 1, 2nd Overall: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
Two qualities Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell loves in his players are toughness and grit which are two traits that Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson has. Hutchinson would be able to step in on day one and should provide the Lions with a much needed pass-rushing and help improve a defense that ranks 30th in sacks this year.
Round 1, 30th Overall: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
While the Detroit Lions would love to add a franchise quarterback with their first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, that is not a possibility in this year’s draft. Due to the lack of outstanding high-level talent at the quarterback position, they would be wise to wait until their second first-round pick to draft a developmental quarterback. A player who shows intriguing potential yet would be best suited by sitting a year or two on the bench behind Jared Goff is Malik Willis of Liberty.
Round 2, 34th Overall: Drake London, WR, USC
The Detroit Lions struck gold when they took former USC wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. However, they need to find a player who compliments him and one who has proven he can do that is his former teammate Drake London. The main reason London might fall to the second round is that he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the ninth week of the season.
Round 3, 66th Overall: Brandon Smith, OLB, Penn State
One position the Lions need to add several players at this offseason is linebacker. One of the reasons Detriot will look to add an outside linebacker in the 2022 NFL Draft has been the disappointing play of Alex Anzalone. A possible replacement for Anzalone is Penn State’s Brandon Smith who is an impressive athlete and an improving tackler.
Round 3, 97th Overall: Chad Muma, MLB, Wyoming
The Detroit Lions take back to back linebackers in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. This time they take a middle linebacker who could replace Jalen Reeves-Maybin if he leaves in free agency. In Muma, the Lions get a good-sized athletic middle linebacker, who recorded 142 tackles this season.
Round 5, 177th Overall: Dane Belton, S, Iowa
One area the Detroit Lions need to address in the 2022 NFL Draft is safety. This is a major need for the team as they could lose Tracy Walker in free agency and they have been disappointed in the play of Will Harris this season. While Belton likely won’t assume a starting position anytime soon he is a versatile player who could see time as either a nickel linebacker or strong safety next season along with helping out on special teams.
Round 6, 181st Overall: Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State
After taking a safety in the fifth round the Detroit Lions come back and add a cornerback in the 6th round of the 2022 NFL Draft. In Zyon McCollum Detroit gets a big corner who could be in the mix at either cornerback or free safety.
Round 6, 217th Overall: Blaise Andries, OG, Minnesota
The Detroit Lions offensive line has battled injuries most of this season, so adding depth to this unit is a priority. In Andries, the Lions get a player who has experience at both guard and tackle and could be a valuable backup lineman for the team.
Round 7, 229th Overall: Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
The Lions add their third defensive back in the 2022 NFL Draft with the selection of Tariq Woolen. Woolen is one of the most impressive athletes in the draft as he posted a 4.34 40-yard dash 137-inch broad jump. He also has ideal size for an NFL corner coming in at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. With that being said he is still extremely raw when it comes to technique so he will need some time to develop.
Round 7, 241st Overall: Tanner Conner, WR, Idaho State
Detroit wraps up their 2022 NFL Draft by taking another impressive athlete this time selecting Idaho State wide receiver Tanner Conner. In 2021 Conner placed fourth at the Big Sky Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 110 hurdles and averaged 17.5 yards per catch this season.
2022 NFL Draft Stock Up
Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Even though Alabama controlled the Cotton Bowl, one prospect who showed he can play with the best is corner, Ahmad Gardner. Alabama rarely threw against him and he did not allow a single big play. In addition to his ability to shut down the Tide’s wide receivers, he also showed he is willing to come up and make the tackle. After this game, it would be a shock if Gardner was not a first-round pick and a likely top-15 choice.
Kennedy Brooks, RB, Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s Kennedy Brooks was one of the main reasons Sooners coach Bob Stoops was able to capture one more victory in his illustrious career. On the night Brooks rushed for 142 yards and three touchdowns on just 14 carries, as Oklahoma was able to dominate Oregon in the Alamo Bowl. When watching this game two traits will stand out to NFL evaluators which are his vision and patience which were on full display on all three of his touchdown runs.
Brian Robinson, RB, Alabama
Another running back who had an outstanding bowl game is Alabama’s, Brian Robinson. Against Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl Robinson rushed for a career-high 204 yards on 26 carries. His 204 rushing yards also ranked as the third-most rushing yards in the College Football Playoff history. In this game, Robinson showed a good combination of quickness and power which should help him be an early day three pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Leo Chenal, MLB, Wisconsin
Ever since Leo Chenal missed the first two games of the 2021 season due to Covid, he has been one of the most productive linebackers in the Big Ten. This season he has only had under eight tackles in a game once and in his last four games has accounted for 57 tackles.
While Chenal might not be the most athletic middle linebacker in the 2022 NFL Draft, he is a physical run defender who should be a good day three pick.
2022 NFL Draft Stock Down
Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
In last week’s NFL Draft Notebook I named Desmond Ridder the most overrated quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft, and he showed why he earned this label in his game against Alabama. In this game, he looked rattled on several occasions when facing pressure. He also showed inconsistent accuracy which has been an issue his entire college career. While Ridder does have some natural traits that will make him an interesting developmental quarterback he should not be considered a first or second-round prospect.
Ty Chandler, RB, North Carolina
While we saw several running backs have outstanding bowl games one prospect who struggled in his bowl game was North Carolina’s Ty Chandler. In the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, Chandler posted season lows in both rushing yards in a game running for only 29 yards and yards per carry averaging 3.2 yards per carry. This was definitely a disappointing way for Chandler to go out after having the best regular season of his career, having rushed for 437 more yards and 9 more touchdowns than any other season of his career.
Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
Going into the Orange Bowl one area Michigan was supposed to have an advantage was their defensive line vs. Georgia offensive line. However, the Bulldogs dominated this area of the game not giving up a single sack on the night and also overpowering Aidan Hutchinson. Hutchinson finished the night with just 4 tackles and was held without a sack.
Brock Prudy, QB, Iowa State
Iowa State’s Brock Prudy is a player who has gone from getting first-round buzz a year ago to now a player who will be lucky to be drafted. In the last game of his career, he showed why he will have a hard time making it in the NFL. In this game, he completed just 59% of his passes and turned the ball over twice including a critical fumble at the end of the game. Why Purdy is a tough competitive athlete he likely lacks the physical skills to be anything more than a possible backup in the NFL
Running Back Rankings
Top prospect: Breece Hall, Iowa State
While this will likely be the first year since 2014 we have not seen a running back go in the first round, there is plenty of day two talent at this position. The top running back who will likely be a second-round pick is Iowa State’s, Breece Hall. Hall has accounted for 3,044 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns over the past two seasons and displays the tools to be a quality starter at the next level. What makes Hall the top back in the 2022 NFL is that he is a complete back that shows the speed to run outside, the contact balance to run inside, and the consistent hands to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Most underrated: Zamir White, Georgia
An SEC back who is being overlooked is Georgia’s Zamir White. The main reason he is being overlooked is that he has had to share carries at Georgia and has never had a 1,000 yard rushing season. However, when you watch his film it is hard not to be impressed. The first thing that stands out with him is how physical of a runner he is. He routinely runs over defenders and does a great job of running low when facing contact. Along with his power, he also has the speed to break off the long run once in the open field.
Most overrated: Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M
A running back who will likely go higher than he should in the 2022 NFL Draft is Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller. There are three main reasons he is not worth the second-round grade many analysts are giving him with the first one being his lack of speed. While he does show good short-area quickness he lacks long-distance speed and will likely time in the 4.55 range at the NFL Combine. Another concern with him is that he has battled dropped passes. In 2021 he dropped 15% of the passes thrown his way and this season he has also had trouble consistently securing the catch. The last reason why he should carry more of a fourth-round than second-round grade is that while he does break his share of arm tackles he does not run with the same type of physicality you see out of a back like Dameon Pierce.
Sleeper: Dameon Pierce, Florida
Last week’s NFL Notebook highlighted how Florida running back Dameon Pierce is a player worth watching at the Senior Bowl, due to his physical running style. This running style and the fact he has never rushed for over 600 yards in a season at Florida makes him one of the bigger sleepers in this year’s running back class. If Pierce is put in the right offensive system it would not be a shock if he challenged for a starting job next season.
Biggest risk: CJ Verdell, Oregon
What makes CJ Verdell a risky prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft is his injury history. He missed half of this season due to a leg injury he suffered vs. Stanford and also battled injuries in both 2019 and 2020. If he can stay healthy Verdell has the speed, contact balance, and receiving skills to be a solid back at the next level but until he proves he can stay healthy he will carry a medical red flag.
Player who had a breakout year: Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
Perhaps no player had a bigger breakout season this year than Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker. In his first two seasons at Wake Forest, he accounted for a total of 1,158 yards and 17 touchdowns. However, this season he had one of the best seasons ever from a Michigan State running back running for 1,636 yards and being the first Spartan to win the Walter Camp National Player of the Year and the Doak Walker Award.
Player who had a disappointing year: Cam’Ron Harris, Miami
Going into the 2021 season hopes were high for Miami running back Cam’Ron Harris after seeing his production increase each year he was at Miami. However, things went downhill for Harris this season when he suffered a knee injury in the sixth game of the season. This injury kept Harris out the rest of the season and held him to only 409 rushing yards this season. This lack of production and significant injury will likely cause Harris to go late in the 2022 NFL Draft or go undrafted.
Top small school prospect: Pierre Strong Jr, South Dakota State
For the first time since 1962, South Dakota State should see a running back drafted in the NFL Draft. The player who will likely hear his name called this April is running back Pierre Strong Jr. This season Strong led the FCS in rushing with 1,673 yards and scored 18 rushing touchdowns. What scouts will love about Strong is his outstanding vision and ability to consistently run through tackles.
1. Breece Hall, Iowa State, (second round)
2. Zach Charbonnet, UCLA (second round)
3. Kenneth Walker, Michigan State (third round)
4. Kyren Williams, Notre Dame (third round)
5. Jerome Ford, Cincinnati (third round)
6. Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M (fourth round)
7. Zamir White, Georgia, (fourth round)
8. D’Vonte Price, FIU (fourth round)
9. Dameon Pierce, Florida, (fifth round)
10. Brian Robinson, Alabama, (fifth round)
11. James Cook, Georgia, (fifth round)
12. Tyler Allgeier, BYU (fifth round)
13. Sincere McCormick, UTSA, (fifth round)
14. Xazavian Valladay, Wyoming (fifth round)
15. Leddie Brown, West Virginia (sixth round)
16. Cam’Ron Harris, Miami (sixth round)
17. Rachaad White, Arizona State (sixth round)
18. CJ Verdell, Oregon, (sixth round)
19. Ronnie Rivers, Fresno State (sixth round)
20. Chris Rodriguez, Kentucky, (seventh round)
21. Pierre Strong Jr, South Dakota State, (seventh round)
22. Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma, (seventh round)
23. Ty Chandler, North Carolina (seventh round)
24. Travis Dye, Oregon (free agent)
25. Tyler Goodson, Iowa (free agent)
26. Hassan Haskins, Michigan (free agent)
27. Tyler Badie, Missouri, (free agent)
28. Max Borghi, Washington State (free agent)
29. DeAndre Torrey, North Texas (free agent)
2022 NFL Draft Prospects For The AFC East
A look at one prospect each AFC East team might take with their top draft pick.
One of the biggest priorities for the Buffalo Bills this offseason will be to improve their running game. In order to improve in this area the Bills need to upgrade the interior offensive line and a player who could be an instant upgrade is Kenyon Green of Texas A&M.
Even though the Dolphins defense has been their strength this season one position they might look to upgrade early in the 2022 NFL Draft is linebacker. This position could become an even bigger need if Elandon Roberts leaves in free agency this offseason. A linebacker who could play either inside or outside linebacker for Miami and would be a great value pick towards the end of the first round is Utah’s Devin Lloyd.
New York Jets
The New York Jets currently rank 19th in sacks and are giving up 260 passing yards a game so adding a pass rusher is a must. Thankfully the 2022 NFL Draft has three pass rushers who are worth a top-five pick in Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux and Purdue’s George Karlaftis. It would be a surprise if one of these three prospects is not playing in New York next season.
New England Patriots
New England could lose one of it’s top defenders this offseason since cornerback J.C. Jackson is scheduled to be a free agent. If the Patriots lose him drafting a cornerback will be a priority. A player who has the ability to start from day one and could be available when the Patriots pick is Florida’s Kaiir Elam.
— Next Monday we will crown the 2021 college football national champion and one important matchup to watch in this game will be between Alabama’s offensive line and Georgia’s defensive line. In the SEC title game, Georgia did not record a single sack and was eaten alive by Alabama’s passing game, if that is to change this game they will need to pressure Bryce Young. If the Bulldogs can force Young to hang onto the ball allowing their defensive line to get to him and shut down the run game like they did in the previous game it will be hard for the Tide to beat Georgia a second straight time and will likely cost them the national championship.
— One concern scouts will likely have with Western Michigan quarterback Kaleb Eleby is his ball security. While he has only thrown six interceptions this year compared to 23 touchdowns one area he is prone to turning the ball over is fumbling the ball. Fumbling has been an issue for Eleby as he does not tuck the ball away when running with the ball. He also has had some trouble in this area when it comes to receiving the snap from center or making a clean handoff.
— If a team is looking to add a tight end early on the third day of the draft one player they need to give serious consideration to is Sam LaPorta of Iowa. LaPorta is your classic old school in-line tight end who can help a team as both a receiver and blocker. As a receiver, he displays consistent hands to bring in the reception and the athletic ability to make the tough catch. When it comes to blocking LaPorta is still developing in this area but shows the overall strength and desire to be an asset to a team’s running game.
— A sleeper to watch for next season is wide receiver, Elijah Cooks. Cooks started off his career at Nevada where he was one of the more promising players in the Mountian West Conference after recording 76 receptions in 2019. However, since that season Cooks has battled two-season ending injuries in back to back years suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in the 2019 season and a foot injury in the third game of this season. After these two disappointing seasons, Cooks decided to transfer to San Jose State, where he will team up with former Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro.
— One position you will see the New York Jets addressing in a lot of mock drafts is cornerback. However, this is a position the Jets will likely not address with one of their two first-round picks for a couple of reasons. The first one is that the team has been happy with the progress they have seen from 2020 fifth-round pick Bryce Hall, and 2021 sixth-round pick Brandin Echols. Head coach Robert Saleh also believes the secondary will be greatly improved with an improved pass rush which is why it is more likely the Jets will add some pass rushers in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Quote of the Week
“The only yardstick for success our society has is being a champion. No one remembers anything else.” – John Madden