Bang! After trading down and gathering more valuable draft capital, the Detroit Lions are still able to grab the top quarterback in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Malik Willis is a player that I have pegged to the Lions at pick two, so being able to move down a bit, stay ahead of quarterback-needy teams like the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks and still secure their long-term answer behind center is icing on the cake.
Despite his connection to Jared Goff from their days with the Los Angeles Rams, Lions general manager Brad Holmes has to realize that he is not the future of the franchise. With it clear the the team is far from “win now” mode, the front office must turn their attention to the future.
The Detroit Lions displayed year after year that they were not able to make any progress towards winning, even with a top NFL quarterback, Matthew Stafford. If anyone had any question about that, I think Stafford was able to answer them by winning a Super Bowl in his first year not playing in Detroit.
What does that mean for Detroit? They need to change their way of thinking, a bit. A conventional, pocket passer with an average arm like Goff just isn’t going to get it done. They need a dynamic playmaker that will completely reshape their offense and scare opposing defenses.
Malik Willis is that guy in the 2022 NFL Draft. Although I don’t believe that teams should necessarily be looking for the “next” version of a current quarterback, Malik Willis really could find similar success to Lamar Jackson.
As a runner, Willis is incredibly effective and elusive, beating defenders in the open field and running away from defensive back to finish runs. But with his arm, Willis can be even more dangerous. He has an absolute rocket and can make every NFL throw that a team can ask of him at the next level.
The 2022 NFL Draft may not be the best option for teams to find a franchise quarterback, but if you put him in the right situation and build an offense properly around him playing to his strengths, I would put my money on Malik Willis. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Detroit Lions agree and aim to change the trajectory of their franchise moving forward.
With Malik Willis off the board, this pick is a slam dunk. N.C. State’s bullying offensive lineman, Ikem Ekwonu could really be in play to be the first player off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft. His versatility and physicality will make him a highly sought after commodity in April.
Ikem Ekwonu has the blend of size, athleticism and physicality that teams desire in a young offensive lineman. He still has some refinement to add to his game, but the sky is the limit for the young star who has experience at both tackle and guard.
For the Carolina Panthers, if they are not adding a young quarterback to build their franchise around with this pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, they better add someone who can protect whoever is. Whether that is Sam Darnold, P.J. Walker, Cam Newton this year, a rookie, or someone else, the Panthers clearly need offensive line help if they want them to succeed.
Even after bringing in a couple pieces in free agency already, a starting offensive line of Cameron Erving, Pat Elflein, Bradley Bozeman, Austin Corbett and Taylor Moton isn’t exactly optimal. In this scenario, I think Ekwonu comes right in as the starting left tackle and begins to develop into a high quality starter with All-Pro potential in Carolina.