The 2022 NFL Draft is in the books.
GM Brad Holmes and the Detroit Lions – like 31 other NFL teams around the league – feel like this past weekend allowed them the opportunity to add some young players to their roster that make them a much better football team.
"We got eight guys that we're really, really excited about that we believe can help us going forward," Holmes said.
Here are my five biggest takeaways from draft weekend:
1. LIONS HAVE OPTIONS AT PASS RUSHER
Improving Detroit's pass rush was clearly a priority for Holmes and the Lions. Detroit ranked 30th in both sacks and quarterback pressures last year. Detroit drafted three pass rushers total and two in the first two rounds, selecting Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson (first round), Kentucky's Josh Paschal (second) and Jackson State's James Houston (sixth).
The last time the Lions drafted two pass rushers in the first two rounds was 1992 when they selected Robert Porcher (first) and Tracy Scroggins (second). The additions of Hutchinson, Paschal and Houston this year gives the Lions a ton of versatility with their pass rush.
Don't be surprised if we see some NASCAR sub packages with four edge players all on the field at the same time. I could certainly see a third-down scenario with a combination of Charles Harris/Romeo Okwara/Julian Okwara/Houston coming off the edge with Hutchinson and Paschal inside. The Okwara brothers and Hutchinson could flip-flop in that scenario as well. Second-year defensive end Levi Onwuzurike has some versatility to his game as well.
The additions of Hutchinson, Paschal and Houston really gives Lions defensive line coach Todd Wash a lot of options and flexibility upfront with how they want to attack teams with their pass rush.
2. LIONS COMMITTED TO QB JARED GOFF
Only one quarterback, Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett, was drafted in the first round. We saw three more quarterbacks go Day 2, but the Lions were not among those teams looking for a QB.
"I looked at the quarterbacks and I thought that they were taken where we thought they should have been taken, at least from our standpoint," Holmes said. "I didn't see it as they were being mistreated or not being taken fairly. I think they were evaluated properly."
The Lions not getting involved in the quarterback carousel this offseason, then not taking one in the draft, means they're 100 percent behind Goff as their starter heading into 2022.
3. DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE
In addition to Hutchinson, Paschal and Houston, Detroit also drafted safety Kerby Joseph (third round), linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez (sixth) and cornerback Chase Lucas (seventh).
Holmes said he didn't go into the draft planning to pick six defenders among their eight selections, it just worked out that way with their board.
Looking at the roster heading into the draft, it was fair to say Detroit had considerably more talent on the offensive side of the football. Detroit didn't rank any higher than 24th in any major statistical category on defense a year ago. That side of the ball needed an infusion of young talent. If some key second-year players take leaps in development, and some of these rookies can make an immediate impact, the Lions should improve defensively in 2022.
4. SKILL POSITION TALENT COULD BE SCARY
The addition of arguably the top wide receiver in the draft, Jameson Williams (No. 12 overall), who was also the fastest WR in the class, gives the Lions another skill position weapon to throw at opposing defenses.
Williams joins receivers DJ Chark, Josh Reynolds, Amon-Ra St. Brown, tight end T.J. Hockenson and running back D'Andre Swift to form a pretty explosive and deep skill position group on paper for Detroit's offense.
Just imagine a lineup of Chark and Williams on the outside, St. Brown in the slot, Hockenson lined up in-line opposite St. Brown with Swift in the backfield. Williams' speed will force a safety to play over the top, which will open up a ton of one-on-one possibilities for the other players. That's a pretty scary lineup of skill guys when we also consider that Detroit's offensive line could be top five in the NFL, and afford Goff the time to find the best matchup.
5. FOOTBALL CHARACTER A BIG PRIORITY
Character was a common theme from Holmes throughout the three-day draft. He talked a lot about leadership and love of the game. A majority of the players selected were team captains and leaders, with several players being multi-year captains for their college teams.
"We look into the intangibles. We heavily scrutinize the intangibles of every football player and their football character," Holmes said. "You guys have heard me say it at length and I'll always believe this until the day I die, is that how much passion and how high your football character is and what your desire is for this game, that's going to dictate your success."
Those football intangibles are a big priority for Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell as they continue to build the roster and evolve the culture of this football team.