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NFL Draft

Looking At Some Early 2022 NFL Draft Targets For Lions

  • The Draft Network
  • October 5, 2021
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The Detroit Lions are one of two winless teams entering Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season, and while their fan base may want to hold out hope for a winning streak that brings coach Dan Campbell’s team back to relevancy this year, the reality is it’s time to begin looking ahead to the 2022 NFL draft, where Detroit will have its first crack at rebuilding a roster with glaring needs.

Detroit has two first-round picks, theirs and the first-rounder they acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in the Matthew Stafford trade. Ideally, general manager Brad Holmes can use one or both selections (in a trade, perhaps) to acquire his franchise quarterback, but the 2022 draft class isn’t shaping up to be a good one behind center.

Still, the Lions will be in a good position to add a blue-chip player with their first selection and enhance a need area at the end of Round 1 with their second pick.

The scouting minds here at The Draft Network are already hard at work creating mock drafts throughout the 2021 season that serve a few critical purposes. First, early-season mock drafts help fans gain an understanding of the likely first-round landscape, even though it’s fluid and evolves each week. Second, early mocks help identify likely target areas for teams picking near the top of the first round, even in October. Let’s face it, the Lions aren’t going to miraculously find a hidden gem on their roster who erases a need. As a result, it’s pretty safe to begin projecting the areas Holmes will upgrade in both free agency and the draft.

TDN’s Kyle Crabbs, Jordan Reid, and Brentley Weissman have each taken a swing at a mock draft over the last couple of weeks, all of which you can find here. All three agree that Detroit will target a potentially game-changing defender with their first first-rounder while upgrading their wide receiver room with their second pick. Crabbs and Reid are in lockstep with their projections, too:

Weissman: Pick 1: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame; Pick 2: George Pickens, WR, Georgia

Reid: Pick 1: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon; Pick 2: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Crabbs: Pick 1: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon; Pick 2: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

I’m a big fan of Weissman’s projection of Hamilton to the Lions, who in his mock are picking fourth overall. Hamilton, despite playing safety, might be the biggest game-changer in this year’s class, regardless of position. But it’s that whole ‘position’ thing that will likely keep him from being the first overall pick despite his film presenting a strong case to be that selection. Safeties rarely end up as top-five picks, let alone the first overall, but in a draft year that’s without a clear QB1, the first pick is up for grabs.

All three TDN analysts have the Lions taking a wide receiver with their second pick. Both Reid and Crabbs send Detroit Burks, the big-bodied playmaker from Arkansas. This would be an ideal selection for an offense that’s lacking talent in the passing game. Burks’ ability to win on all three levels with his blend of size, speed, and good-enough route-running would make him the immediate WR1 in the Lions’ offense and provide whoever’s playing quarterback with the kind of target they can trust even when covered.

A draft haul that includes a blue-chip defender and an upgrade at wide receiver, as all three TDN mocks have for the Lions, would be a good start for a franchise that simply needs an injection of talent.

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