General manager Brad Holmes and the Detroit Lions finished up their 2022 NFL Draft Saturday with the selection of four more players to add to the four they took in the first three rounds, giving them eight total additions to the roster.
"I feel like we got better as an organization this week," Holmes said Saturday at the conclusion of the draft. "We got eight guys we are really, really excited about that we believe can help us going forward."
Holmes said all eight of the players the team added have 'different flavors' and bring their own strengths to the roster.
Holmes took questions from reporters following the conclusion of the draft Saturday, and here are the key questions from that session:
Was it by plan that six of the eight players drafted were on the defensive side of the ball?
Detroit's defense needed the most infusion of talent heading into the draft. The Lions were 31st in scoring defense last year and 29th in total defense, but Holmes said selecting six players on defense and two on offense wasn't necessarily by design, but rather just how their board fell with the best player available at their picks.
View photos of Detroit Lions first-round picks Aidan Hutchinson & Jameson Williams arriving in Detroit and touring the Allen Park practice facility.
Does drafting just two offensive players – wide receiver Jameson Williams (first round) and tight end James Mitchell (fifth) – mean Holmes feels pretty good about where the offense is at with quarterback Jared Goff at the helm?
"We think he is a quarterback we can win with," Holmes said of Goff.
The Lions made some additions on the outside to give him a few more weapons in free agency and the draft, which Holmes feels good about. He also really likes where Detroit's offensive line is at heading into the summer.
Holmes reiterated he didn't go into the draft planning to go defense heavy, it just fell that way, but Detroit's roster is better having addressed some of the more glaring needs on the defensive side of the ball.
What is the initial vision of where some of the players added Saturday might fit on defense?
Oklahoma State linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez (sixth round) is slated to compete for a spot at inside linebacker, but Holmes said he can make his biggest impact right away on special teams. Holmes called him a 'high caliber' special teams player.
Arizona State cornerback Chase Lucas (seventh round) has experience playing both inside and outside as a five-year starter. Holmes said he won't limit him to one spot. They'll just kind of see where their needs are come training camp and where he fits best. Holmes said Lucas is also a really good special teams candidate.
Jackson State pass rusher James Houston (sixth) has a ton of versatility, and Holmes said they'll look for him to rush the passer, but also see how much he can play off the ball at linebacker. He'll contribute on special teams as well.
"We think all those guys can help us and add versatility," Holmes said.
What is the balance teams have between athleticism vs. prototypical size when drafting players?
Rodriguez, Houston and Lucas don't have prototypical NFL size for their positions, but they were really productive college players and offer the Lions some position versatility, which Holmes said is really important when it comes to roster building and game planning during the season.
"If a guy is a little bit more deficient in one area, say it's height or say it's bulk or arm length, what does he compensate in other areas?" Holmes said. "Does his explosiveness compensate? Does his motor compensate? Do his instincts compensate lack of foot speed here or there?"
Holmes made the point that there are some players out there who have all the size in the world, but they're not very good football players.
"When you have those guys that are versatile it does give you some flexibility from a roster standpoint," he said. "If these guys develop to what we think they can be, they'll offer up a lot of options."
How comfortable is Holmes with the roster coming out of the draft?
Roster building is never really complete, according to Holmes.
"Obviously, there's more windows to add players, the season doesn't start until September," he said. "But, I will say on both sides of the ball, especially from a depth standpoint, there's still areas where we can still add and we'll definitely look to do that for sure."
How active will the Lions be in signing undrafted rookie free agents?
The Lions roster is in a better spot than it was following the draft last year, and Holmes thinks they'll be a little less aggressive in that department in the coming days following the draft.
"It's fuller than it was last year a little bit, which is a good thing," Holmes said of the current roster. "We are active. We might not be able to sign as many as we were able to sign last year, but again, that's a good problem to have.
"You just have to be a little bit more strategic and selective, which we have a really good college free agency process, a very collaborative process. We put a lot of work into that process, so we feel good about it. We've just got to sign a little bit less guys."
The one benefit of signing less players is they can be more selective and potentially offer players more money to come sign with Detroit.