First Selections is my first attempt at projecting the Detroit Lions' first-round picks in the 2022 draft.
It's a different draft for the Lions than in recent seasons. They have two first-round picks -- their own at second overall, and the 31st pick acquired in the trade that sent Matthew Stafford to the Rams.
The Lions should be able to get players where they need help -- pass rusher, wide receiver, linebacker and safety among them.
Brad Holmes oversaw a successful 2021 draft in his first year as GM of the Lions. There's an opportunity to expect similar results -- or better -- this year.
"The draft will be even better," Holmes said in his end-of-season press conference. "I thought our draft was good, but it will be even better. We have more capital."
This year's draft lacks the offensive star appeal of last year. Quarterbacks went off the board with the first three picks, followed by a tight end and two receivers with the next three.
The next pick went to the Lions, and they hit big by taking offensive tackle Penei Sewell, a potential All-Pro.
Following is the mock. Trades are not allowed in this draft, but there is a strong hint that one could be coming in future mocks.
As always, feel free to disagree.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars, 3-14:
The Jaguars need help in many places, but nothing is more important than getting protection for QB Trevor Lawrence, drafted first overall in 2021.
Pick: OT Evan Neal, Alabama. At 6-7, 350, he's built to protect the QB.
2. Detroit Lions, 3-13-1:
They can go a lot of ways to fill a need. Among them:
- Wide receiver. They'll likely add a quality veteran in free agency, then snag one in this deep talent pool.
- Safety/linebacker. The Lions lack a playmaker who does more than pile up tackles with limited impact.
- Pass rusher. The most pressing need is on defense. The Lions had only 30 sacks in 2021.
- Quarterback. A development player makes sense.
- Trade to add quality picks. It cannot be ruled out for Holmes to be active in the trade market. Teams like the Giants and Jets, who have two picks in the top 10, could be potential targets.
Pick: Edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan. A four-year player with 14.5 sacks in 2021. Warning: There's a safety on the board who looks awfully attractive for how the Lions could use him.
3. Houston Texans, 4-13:
A pass rusher falls to the Texans.
Pick: Edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon. He had 19 sacks in 31 career games.
4. New York Jets, 4-13:
The defense can use help at all three levels. Secondary is a primary need.
Pick: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU.
5. New York Giants, 4-13:
They've had one winning season in the last nine, and are set to open 2022 with their fourth head coach in seven seasons. Building a foundation starts up front.
Pick: OT Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State.
6. Carolina Panthers, 5-12:
They tried last year to trade for Stafford and wound up getting Sam Darnold, who had a rough year and got hurt. No QB in this draft warrants being taken this high.
Pick: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State.
7. New York Giants, from Bears, 6-11:
The Giants add another superior prospect.
Pick: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame. He's 6-3, 218 and can cover ground. No trades allowed in this mock, but Hamilton would fit the Lions. Trade rules are made to be broken in later mocks.
8. Atlanta Falcons, 7-10:
A league-low 18 sacks in 2021 shows an obvious need.
Pick: ILB Devin Lloyd, Utah. A converted safety, he had 43 career tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks. In 2021 he had 22 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
9. Denver Broncos, 7-10:
They were better in 2021 than their record showed. Their 332 points allowed were the fewest in the AFC West, but so were their 335 points scored.
Pick: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh. He plays with an edge. For his career he threw 81 TD passes against 32 interceptions and closed out his career with 42 TD passes vs. seven picks.
10. New York Jets, from Seahawks, 7-10:
After Stingley comes a big-play receiver. It will make rookie camp interesting.
Pick: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas. Size -- listed at 6-3, 225 -- with speed gives QB Zach Wilson a good start on his second season.
11. Washington Football Team, 7-10:
New QB and franchise nickname for 2022.
Pick: QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss.
12. Minnesota Vikings, 8-9:
Fresh legs in the secondary for new head coach.
Pick: CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati.
13. Cleveland Browns, 8-9:
Once loaded at this position, now needs an upgrade.
Pick: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State.
14. Baltimore Ravens, 8-9:
They ran out of players in 2021. Count on fast reload.
Pick: Edge rusher George Karlaftis, Purdue.
15. Philadelphia Eagles, from Dolphins, 9-8:
Something QB Jalen Hurts needs.
Pick: WR Drake London, Southern Cal.
16. Philadelphia Eagles, from Colts, 9-8:
Offense with one pick, then defense.
Pick: Edge rusher David Ojabo, Michigan. He enters the NFL as a pass rush specialist. Good way to start a career.
17. Los Angeles Chargers, 9-8:
They gave up 2,361 yards rushing in 2021, third most in the league.
Pick: DT Jordan Davis, Georgia.
18. New Orleans Saints, 9-8:
They've drafted just one WR in the last three years (seventh round, 2021).
Pick: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama. Good pick, despite his injury.
19. Philadelphia Eagles, 9-8:
They got a wide receiver, and a pass rusher on the first two trips to the podium.
Pick: LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers, 9-7-1:
Head coach Mike Tomlin has to find a way to keep winning without Ben Roethlisberger. He will.
Pick: QB Sam Howell, North Carolina.
21. New England Patriots, 10-7:
In their last two games vs. the Bills the Patriots gave up 622 yards passing and eight TDs.
Pick: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington.
22. Las Vegas Raiders, 10-7:
The Raiders of old put a premium on speed.
Pick: Jahan Dotson, Penn State. He's undersized, but he has speed.
23. Arizona Cardinals, 11-6:
QB Kyler Murray was under pressure a lot late in the season, and he seemed to run out of gas. Protect the franchise.
Pick: G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M.
24: Dallas Cowboys, 12-5:
The run game has fizzled.
Pick: C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa. A fit for what the Cowboys need to do.
View the best photos of the 2021 season as chosen by Detroit Lions team photographer Jeff Nguyen.
25. Buffalo Bills, 11-6:
A good team that should stay good for a while.
Pick: CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson.
26. Tennessee Titans, 12-5:
The offense could use a speed receiver.
Pick: WR George Pickens, Georgia.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 13-4:
It all depends on whether Tom Brady returns.
Pick: DL Logan Hall, Houston.
28. Green Bay Packers, 13-4:
It all depends on whether Aaron Rodgers goes or stays.
Pick: DT Devonte Wyatt, Georgia.
29. Miami Dolphins, from 49ers, 10-7:
Pick: DL DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M.
30. Kansas City Chiefs, 12-5:
Four straight years in the AFC Championship show they don't need much.
Pick: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida.
31 or 32. Cincinnati Bengals, 10-7:
Protection for QB Joe Burrow!!!
Pick: OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan.
31 or 32. Detroit Lions, from Rams, 12-5:
Linebacker, wide receiver and safety are still primary needs.
Pick: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State. A lot has been said and written about how Olave would fit the Lions, and for good reason.
A four-year player, Olave topped out in 2021 with 65 catches, 936 yards and 13 TDs. He's a smooth route runner who might do well to add a little bulk to his 188-pound frame.