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O'HARA: What we learned from the 2022 NFL Draft

Familiarity breeds a lot of things, and a comfort level was one of them for Brad Holmes in his second season as general manager of the Detroit Lions.

That's what we learned in how Holmes navigated his way through the 2022 NFL Draft.

Having the experience of the 2021 draft behind him made for a smoother operation between Holmes and his staff in the planning and buildup to the draft, and ultimately the decisions on the eight players the Lions drafted on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Among the other things we learned include the following: The split in draft picks from first pick to last showed that the Lions concentrated on which side of the ball needed the most help; wide receiver Jameson Williams of Alabama, the Lions' second of two first-round draft picks, doesn't appear to get flustered by adversity; and one group crucial to the Lions' draft success let its emotions spill out, and rightfully so.

We start with Holmes and his comfort level as GM in Year 2:

Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell were firmly in charge last year, but this is truly their team and staff this year. That includes the people they've inherited, and those they brought in.

"One of the biggest things, I think, is everybody kind of knows the system, everybody knowing how to use the same language when it comes to evaluations."

A year ago, NFL teams were still operating on Zoom because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's not the same as working face to face.

"Being around guys, sometimes you can just feel them a little bit more," Holmes said. "You can feel their body language. You can feel their presence of how they feel about one thing or the other.

"I think that meant a lot. Also, the continuity with our coaching staff, that meant a lot. Even when we made a few tweaks here or there, everything is about collaboration."

Focus: It was on the defense in the draft, and with good reason. The Lions could have stood pat on offense -- with a healthy offensive line -- and been good enough to win games.

No so with the defense, and that showed in the draft. Of their eight picks, the Lions used six on defense, two on offense.

On defense it started with defensive end Aidan Hutchinson in the first round and second overall and ended with cornerback Chase Lucas in the seventh round and 237th overall.

On offense, it started with Williams in the first round and 12th overall and ended with tight end James Mitchell in the fifth round and 177th overall.

Keeping cool: Williams seems to take things in stride other players might consider catastrophic. That was the case when he sustained a knee injury in Alabama's loss to Georgia in the national championship game.

A lot of things could have flashed through his mind at that time -- such as his draft status falling.

"Nothing, really," he said in his visit to the Lions' headquarters. "It was what it was. I really didn't try to think about it."

Cheers: There were occasional bursts of cheers during the three-day draft, and they came from a group that had a vested interest in who the Lions took.

They were the scouts, who were stationed in a large conference room. They showed their emotions over the Lions draft picks, and it was understandable and well deserved because of the miles and hours they put in to gather information on prospects in every aspect possible.

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