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MOCK DRAFT WATCH: Early predictions have Lions taking Hutchinson or Thibodeaux at 2

For all but the eight remaining teams in the NFL playoffs, the offseason has begun and with it comes roster evaluations, free agent analysis and NFL Draft prep.

The end of the regular season means the mock draft season is also in full swing. It's pretty consistent across the first wave of mock drafts the Lions will go with one of the two top pass rushers – Aidan Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeaux– with the No. 2 pick.

What Detroit decides to do with their second first-round pick via the Rams is a little more debatable, with quarterback and wide receiver being the most common mock for them in the upper 20s of the first round.

Here's a look at some of the first mock drafts from around the country:

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN:

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon (No. 2)

Why: Thibodeaux, who was a No. 1 overall high school recruit, has elite upside. His get-off at the snap is lightning-quick, and though he's still developing secondary pass-rush moves, he doesn't need them when he can blow by offensive tackles before they're out of their stance. Thibodeaux had half as many sacks (seven) as Hutchinson this season, but he had the second-best pressure rate in the country (17.8%).

Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina (No. 28)

Why: I'm not sold on Jared Goff being Detroit's guy past 2022, so why not take a quarterback flier here with the pick it got from the trade with the Rams? By taking Howell in Round 1, the Lions would get his fifth-year option, which means they could hand over the reins in 2023. Yes, they have a lot of needs, but if they think they can get their future starting signal-caller, they should pounce.

Dane Brugler, The Athletic:

Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan (No. 2)

Why: Hutchinson isn't on the same level as the Bosa brothers — he doesn't have the same bend or arc skills. However, there are similarities when you talk about their quickness, power and skilled hand play to defeat blockers and disrupt the pocket. Hutchinson can win in multiple ways and is wired in a way that will appeal to head coach Dan Campbell.

Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State (No. 28)

Why: I don't think the Lions will feel pressured to take a wide receiver here, especially with the emergence of Amon-Ra St. Brown over the final month of the season. But Olave and his polished play style would give Detroit an immediate playmaker for an offense in need of them.

Ryan Wilson,

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon (No. 2)

Why: The Lions would probably love to trade down because for as good as Thibodeaux has been, he won't be the final piece to turning things around in Detroit. But since there are no trades in this mock draft, and there may end up being no team moving up this high for, say, a QB in the actual draft, the Oregon pass-rusher remains the choice here.

Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas (No. 28)

Why: By the time we get to the actual draft, we'll much more clarity on what the Lions' QB plans might look like, though it feels like Jared Goff's job in '22. With its second first-rounder, we have Detroit adding Burks. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Burks has all the tools to eventually be WR1, as was evidenced just about every week in the fall.

Chris Trapasso,

Aiden Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan (No. 2)

Why: Hutchinson feels like a Dan Campbell selection, and he's got all the tools to be an All-Pro type on the edge.

David Bell, WR, Purdue (No. 28)

Why: Bell was a steady, high-producing presence on the outside over the past three years for the Boilermakers.

Josh Edwards,

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon (No. 2)

Why: For the second consecutive year, Detroit uses a first-round pick on a highly-touted prospect from Oregon. Paired with Romeo Okwara, Thibodeaux can bring one of the best edge rushing tandems to the NFC North.

Travon Walker, DL, Georgia (No. 27)

Why: When you are a team that struggled, you try to develop strengths rather than having a good player here and there. A strong defensive line is going to make it easier on the secondary, whereas adding a player in the secondary might just lead the opposition to attack a different part of the unit.

Kyle Stackpole,

Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan (No. 2)

Why: A homegrown product who has spent his entire life in the state of Michigan, Hutchinson could make a significant impact for Detroit right away.

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati (No. 27)

Why: Even if the Lions believe Jared Goff is their quarterback of the future after his late-season surge, that's a lot of money to be paying a below-average starter on a rebuilding franchise. So they go with Ridder, an experienced dual-threat quarterback with above-average traits.

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News:

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon (No. 2)

Why: The Lions might be tempted should Hutchinson be available given the local angle, but they should be thrilled to get Thibodeaux at No, 2, too. Thibodeaux, on top of the being the more athletic and disruptive pass rusher overall, is more versatile to thrive in Aaron Glenn's front seven.

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati (No. 28)

Why: Ridder has been a great, tough leader for the Bearcats, also showing he's a natural dual threat for the NFL with his strong arm and running skills.

Anthony Treash, Pro Football Focus:

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Michigan (No. 2)

Why: Thibodeaux is the Michelangelo's David of pass-rushers. The 6-foot-5, 258-pound edge defender has every trait NFL teams want on the edge at the next level, and he has grown immensely from a production standpoint after earning an 80.9 pass-rush grade as an underclassman.

Malik Willis, QB, Liberty (No. 30)

Why: From a tools perspective, Willis is in a class of his own. He is the most dangerous quarterback in college football from an athleticism perspective, and he possesses outstanding arm strength.

Michael Renner, Pro Football Focus:

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon (No. 2)

Why: Thibodeaux has a unique blend of physical tools that very few draft prospects possess. It's also a tailor-made blend to play on the edge in the NFL. He showed out in a big way this season, earning a 91.5 pass-rushing grade in the process.

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati (No. 30)

Why: With the Lions cap-committed to Jared Goff in 2022, they don't need to reach for a quarterback. Still, if value falls into their lap, they won't say no. Ridder qualifies as such at this point, as he took massive steps forward with his decision-making and processing speed in 2021, earning a 90.7 overall grade in the process.

Austin Gayle, Pro Football Focus:

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon (No. 2)

Why: The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Thibodeaux earned a 91.3 PFF pass-rushing grade that ranked fourth among all Power Five edge defenders in 2021, behind only Hutchinson (93.6), South Carolina's Kingsley Enagbare (92.5) and Oklahoma's Nik Bonitto (92.5).

David Ojabo, Edge, Michigan (No. 28)

Why: There's no debating that Michigan edge defender David Ojabo had an absurd 2021 campaign. Having started his football career in 2017, he played just 26 defensive snaps for the Wolverines in 2020 before exploding with 41 pressures and an 88.2 pass-rushing grade this season. He's a raw prospect who will need to test through the roof at the combine to go in the first round come April, but that's well within the realm of possibility for the young superstar.

Jason McIntyre, Fox Sports:

Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan (No. 2)

Why: Hutchinson's disappointing showing against Georgia in the playoff won't hurt his draft stock, as the Heisman Trophy runner-up stays home to play for the Lions.

Malik Willis, QB, Liberty (No. 27)

Why: The Lions can take a flier on a QB late in the first round if they grade him out as a prospect who can sit for a year and then step in for Jared Goff. Willis is a massive boom-bust prospect with tantalizing upside. But he's extremely raw and is largely untested against top-flight competition.

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA Today:

Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan (No. 2)

Why: After returning for his senior season, the 6-6, 265-pound defensive end overwhelmed opponents from start to finish en route to 14 sacks, a College Football Playoff berth and recognition as Heisman Trophy runner-up.

Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State (No. 26)

Why: Olave offers savvy beyond his years in his precise route-running, and he should add a needed vertical element to the passing attack.

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