We are a week away from the start of the 2022 NFL Draft, and Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes held his annual pre-draft press conference in Allen Park Thursday.
General managers like to keep things pretty close to the vest around this time of year, and Holmes is no different, but there was some good information to come out of the session. Here are all the key questions from Holmes' press conference:
How ready does Holmes feel he and his staff are a week away from the draft?
"Right now we are in a good place," he said. "We are confident in our process up to this point."
Holmes said there are a cluster of players they've identified as fits at No. 2 that are pretty equally graded. The benefit of having a number of players with similar grades at the top is it allows Holmes to then match best player available with position need.
"We do have it narrowed down and we feel confident where we are at with how we have it pared down and we'll just let the process unfold," Holmes said.
Has there been any increased talk about acquiring the No. 2 pick?
Holmes told reporters at owners meetings last month he'd had some discussions with teams about the No. 2 pick, but said Thursday he hasn't really had a lot of discussions with teams since that time.
He does think, however, that heading into the weekend and the early portion of next week conversations could pick up.
How seriously is Holmes considering selecting a quarterback at No. 2?
"I've been saying all along that we're looking for a game-changer at that pick, and really any pick," he said. "I've said all positions – if that position is a quarterback, then it's a quarterback."
Holmes and his staff have spent a lot of time on this quarterback class. They brought in the consensus top two signal callers in this class – Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett – for pre-draft visits.
It's smart for teams to do their due diligence on the most important position on the football team.
"We have our ducks in a row," Holmes said of his evaluation of the quarterback class. "We spent a lot of time with them. I think it's good business to know the quarterback market every single year, but this one is a little bit of a unique one."
The consensus from most draft analysts is this draft class is missing an elite quarterback prospect deserving of a top two pick, but we'll just have to see how the board falls early next Thursday night. The more likely scenario would be for the quarterback conversation to pick up at 32 or 34.
Would Holmes consider trading up to No. 1?
It sounds like that's not really in the cards.
"It's like I always say, if we have that conviction on that player, and it's like, 'Look, it just makes sense.' We feel like we need to go get that player, we'll go get that player," he said.
"That's not always the case, sometimes you don't feel like you need (to). It's not shunning down on that actual player. Sometimes it's just like, 'Hey, look, we feel pretty good where we're at.' We feel good about this cluster of players that I talked to you about a little bit earlier. We've got them graded pretty evenly, so we'll be in good shape. It was very similar to the Penei (Sewell) situation last year."
Holmes had Sewell graded equally with some of the players taken ahead of him at No. 7, which allowed Holmes to sit back and let the draft come to him.
How does Holmes define 'football character?'
Holmes has made it very clear since taking over as GM last year that football character and fitting into the culture both he and head coach Dan Campbell are trying to build with the Lions is very important when they evaluate players, whether that's college talent entering the NFL or in the free agent market.
"Being a good teammate, being accountable, but then you're talking about passion for football," Holmes said of how he defines football character. "Perseverance, leadership, work ethic, preparation. All those things lead to what we call good football character."
How does Holmes replicate the success the Lions had with their undrafted free agent class last year?
"Our undrafted free agent process is huge," Holmes said.
It's a collaborative process between the scouts and coaches. Holmes said they've improved their process even more this offseason.
"We've always said, Dan (Campbell) and I have always said you can call us the land of opportunity, but we don't care where you come from," Holmes said. "We don't care where you got drafted, what the depth chart looks like where, 'Oh, this guy's a vet,' and all that. We don't care about any of that.
"If you step in this building, you've got an opportunity to compete ... it doesn't matter where you come from. You can talk about meritocracy, in the sense of whoever's the best is the best. Well, that's kind of how we approach it because of undrafted free agents."
What is the balance between the evaluation of production and potential?
Take a player like Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker for example. He's gotten some talk as potentially the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and has been linked to Detroit at No. 2, because of his athleticism, length and speed, but there are players who were much more productive than him at his position in college.
"You can't ignore the production," Holmes said. "Especially when you talk a lot about defensive backs. Sometimes ball production is hard to come by, so guys touching a football a lot, you really can't ignore that.
"But you also have to look at those critical factors of the actual player. Is he doing everything in his power? Does he have a skillset? Does he have the traits to do certain things. Does he have the football character?"
There's a lot of different factors that can come into play that can sometimes project more production at the NFL level for some players. Maybe how they were used affected their production."
It's a lot to consider, but Holmes said you can't ignore the actual production because it's real and factual.