Assessing the value of the Detroit Lions’ 2022 draft class

Only time will tell if the Detroit Lions makes good choices in 2022 NFL Draftbut that doesn’t mean instant scanning can be neglected.

After months of preparing for the NFL Draft, many experts on many websites have made up their big charts, ranking hundreds of potential NFL prospects. While each of these rankings can be useful on their own, combining them into a single table can provide insight into which prospects are ranked and where.

Thanks to Arif Hasan of The Athletic, such a feat has been accomplished. The NFL 2022 Draft Consensus Grand Council is a top 300 prospect list based on a compilation of multiple dashboards. Not only has it been a useful tool, but its accuracy has also made it one of the main sources of information on drafts. Hasan also posted a follow-up post regarding the biggest steals and carries in the 2022 NFL Draft, as well as each team’s draft class ranking based on their value. Both items require a subscription to The Athletic, but are well worth the price.

Speaking of price, how did the Detroit Lions fare with their draft class? Have they struck a good balance between need and value? We’ll take a look.

Round 1: DE Aidan Hutchinson

Consensus ranking of the big board: 1
Lions draft selection point: 2

For weeks people have castigated the Detroit Lions for winning an “insane” game in Week 18 against the Green Bay Packers, a win that cost them the first overall pick. Now Jacksonville would have a choice between Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux, leaving Detroit with their crumbs.

On draft day, it turned out to be meaningless. Thanks to the meteoric rise of Travon Walker, the Lions ended up having the choice between one or the other passer. The Lions picked Hutchinson, the consensus top prospect. Interestingly, Walker was eighth on the consensus committee. The Lions emerged victorious in the draft from the start.

Round 1: WR Jameson Williams

Consensus ranking of the big board: 13
Lions draft selection point: 12

A trade surprised many and led to instant speculation that a quarterback selection was coming. Instead, the Lions went with wide receiver Jameson Williams. Williams was the third-highest receiver after Garrett Wilson and Drake London. Wilson and London edged out Williams as expected (10th and 8th overall, respectively), while Chris Olave slipped past Williams in 11th. The Lions took Williams close to his projected rating, so it’s hard to complain about value.

Round 2: DL Josh Paschal

Consensus ranking of the big board: 70
Lions draft selection point: 46

Josh Paschal is the first big deviation from the consensus standings, passing almost a lap earlier than expected. Rankings on Pascal varied widely. Pro Football Network Ranked Pascal 144th overall, Dane Brugler of Athletic ranked him 83rd, Mel Kiper ranked him 63rd, and PFF had it all the way to the 44th.

Interestingly enough, while Brugler had Pascal 83rd in his ranking, he said the The Athletic’s NFL Draft live broadcast when selecting the Lions that he expected him to go in the second round.

“Before we started tonight, we were talking about some of the players, and we were talking about Paschal and we said, ‘He’s going to the second round. It’s happening,” Brugler said. “Too many teams love this guy.”

Round 3: S Kerby Joseph

Consensus ranking of the big board: 96
Lions draft selection point: 97

The Kerby Joseph Lions pick is almost identical to his consensus ranking. Some fans might be disappointed that the Indianapolis Colts jumped past the Lions for another safety, Nick Cross, but the Lions still received a valuable safety. The second-highest-ranked safety was Verone McKinley III (ranked 122nd), who actually went undrafted.

Round 5: TE James Mitchell

Consensus ranking of the big board: 216
Lions draft selection point: 177

James Mitchell is another player picked ahead of his consensus ranking, but a torn ACL likely threw away his draft stock. While only ranked 216th on the consensus chart, Mitchell was rated highly by Dane Brugler (162nd overall) and PFF (109th overall). If Mitchell can get back to form, the Lions could get a worthwhile investment.

Round 6: LB Malcolm Rodriguez

Consensus ranking of the big board: 170
Lions draft selection point: 188

Not only did the Lions get good value with Malcolm Rodriguez at 188, but they also got it after a down trade. Philadelphia Eagles dropped picks 188 and 237 to jump to 181; interestingly, they themselves picked a linebacker in Kyron Johnson, a prospect ranked 266th on the consensus board. The Lions will be happy with Rodriguez, who was ranked 140th by Mel Kiper, 132nd by Dane Brugler and 153rd by PFF.

Round 6: LB/EDGE James Houston

Consensus ranking of the big board: N / A
Lions draft selection point: 217

James Houston is the first pick not to appear on the big consensus board. The consensus committee is made up of more than 80 analysts, so it’s likely Houston didn’t have enough of them to qualify for a ranking. Houston was ranked 225th by Mel Kiper, 272nd by Pro Football Network and 289th by Dane Brugler. Houston was likely a carry by Detroit, but for a late sixth-round pick, that’s not blatant. Additionally, the former Pride of Detroit writer and creator of Relative athletic scores Kent Lee Platte loves the choice:

Round 7: CB Chase Lucas

Consensus ranking of the big board: 214
Lions draft selection point: 237

The Lions closed their draft with another moderate steal. Lucas’ consensus seeding put him near the end of the sixth round, and the Lions got him about a half-round later. If you were worried about the Lions reaching Houston, you could just pretend that Lucas and Houston swapped draft positions.

Globally

Based on value alone, the Lions had an average draft class in 2022. Last year’s class put them in the top echelon of draft valuebut their return on investment this year puts them in the middle of the pack:

Given the Lions’ success in acquiring contributors last season, there’s no reason to panic about this draft class. The Lions got excellent production from Penei Sewell, Alim McNeil and Amon-Ra St. Brown, while Levi Onwuzurike, Ifetu Melifonwu, Derrick Barnes and Jermar Jefferson showed flashes of promise. Even undrafted rookies Jerry Jacobs and AJ Parker performed admirably.

There’s no reason to believe the Lions won’t get major contributors right away. Hutchinson is already a betting favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Although Williams may be running out of time as he recovers from his ACL injury, there is no doubt that he will be an incredible weapon once healthy. Mitchell is also on the mend from an ACL injury, but should be fighting for the TE2 spot soon. The additions of Paschal, Joseph, Rodriguez and Houston give Detroit plenty of valuable chess pieces on defense. Even Lucas has a chance to contribute as a high school rookie.

The Lions draft class has been ranked well by many metrics. They got numerous A’s and B’s from analysts across the countrywhile their draft class is among the sportiest in the league. Even if the consensus committee doesn’t reflect it, it was a stellar draft class for the Detroit Lions.

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