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The Detroit Lions surprised some people in 2021. Sure, they finished 3-13-1 to get the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, the squad played hard for first-year head coach Dan Campbell and gave some teams a run for their money. Now, the franchise has a chance to take the next step by adding five potential starters in the first three rounds. Here is the blueprint for doing that in this Detroit Lions mock draft.

Detroit Lions Mock Draft 1.0 

(L-R) Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell, Georgia CB Lewis Cine. Ridder and Cine are picks in this 2022 Detroit Lions mock draft.
(L-R) Desmond Ridder, Dan Campbell, Lewis Cine | Tim Bradbury/Getty Images; Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In Sportcasting’s last Detroit Lions mock draft, the team took one of the top-ranked prospects in this year’s draft and followed that up by taking a potential franchise QB at the end of the first round. In the later rounds, the Lions focused on building up the NFL’s 31st-ranked defense in 2021. That mock draft looked like this: 

  • Round 1, No. 2 overall: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
  • Round 1, No. 32 overall: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
  • Round 2, No. 34 overall: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
  • Round 3, No. 66 overall: Josh Paschal, EDGE, Kentucky
  • Round 3, No. 97 overall: WR Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky

With the draft less than a week away now, draft boards have solidified, and prospects have risen and fallen. Hamilton is now likely out of the top five, and Dean has probably moved into the first round. With those movements in mind, here is the three-round Detroit Lions mock draft 2.0. 

Round 1, No. 2 overall: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

I’ve come around to the camp that believes that Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke loves drafting measurables over production, which means the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft will be Georgia edge-rusher Travon Walker. That means, in this Detroit Lions mock draft, the franchise’s dream pick of Aidan Hutchinson is there at No. 2. 

No Lion had more than 7.5 sacks last year (Charles Harris), and the team’s 30 sacks were third-worst in the NFL. Hutchinson is the most NFL-ready pass rusher in the draft, and he’ll create a Lions pass rush out of thin air. Plus, he’s the leader a building defense needs, and he’s a hometown boy who will help sell season tickets. 

If the Jaguars take anyone other than Hutchinson, Detroit general manager Brad Holmes will sprint to the podium to hand in Hutchinson’s name on a card. 

Round 1, No. 32 overall: Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

One thing that all Motor City fans can agree on is that Hared Goff isn’t the long-term answer at QB for the franchise. The team would love to draft a franchise QB at No. 2 this year, but there isn’t one in this draft. So, in this Detroit Lions mock draft, taking one at No. 32 is the best spot. 

A lot of mocks have Ole Miss QB Matt Corral here, but if Cincinnati signal-caller Desmond Ridder is here, he should be the pick. Ridder has a decent arm and good athleticism, but he’s not elite in either category. However, he is good enough physically to play in the NFL, and that’s where the rest will take over. 

Ridder is a leader (team captain) and a winner (guided the first non-power five school to College Football Playoffs). He also improved between his junior and senior seasons and plays with excellent technical form. Even in a draft with a bad overall QB class, Ridder could be the gem of the group, and that’s why the Lions should take him with this second first-round pick. 

Round 2, No. 34 overall: Lewis Cine, S, Georgia

After the Lions close out the first round, there will be a break until the next day, one pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and then Detroit is on the clock again. Having a top three to five pick on Day 2 screams out as an opportunity to trade back. Rival GMs have nearly 24 hours to sit and stew and fantasize about a player who slipped and is still on the board. The Lions can get a nice haul for this pick. 

All that said, assuming they don’t trade out, Georgia safety Lewis Cine is the pick in this Detroit Lions mock draft. Cine is 6-foot-2, 199-pounds but plays like he’s 6-foot-5, 250-pounds. He is a downhill banger, and, at Georgia, he set the tone for that All-World defense last season. 

He isn’t going to be an elite centerfield or coverage safety, but playing down in the box, he’ll excel. At Georgia, he even played linebacker at times and could become a hybrid at the next level if he can put on weight. Most of all, though, Dan “MCDC” Campbell will love Cine’s demeanor, and that is reason enough to pick him here. 

Round 3, No. 66 overall: Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia

As long as this Detroit Lions mock draft is on Georgia defenders, let’s stick with that theme. Linebackers Nakobe Dean and Quay Walker get all the pub (and will be long off the board at this point), but there was a third excellent LB on that vaunted Georgia D: Channing Tindall. 

Tindall is a 6-foot-2, 230-pound inside linebacker with 4.47-second 40-yard dash speed. He isn’t the athletic marvel that some LBs in this draft are, but he’s got enough size and speed to roam sideline-to-sideline and make lots of tackles. He also has some OLB pass-rush potential. 

Also, if the Lions do draft Cine, he and Tindall should have some excellent chemistry to build a defense around. If the Lions don’t get Hutchinson and go Travon Walker instead, they can really create Bulldogs North in Detroit. And, if it’s any consolation, he is one of Mel Kiper Jr.’s favorite prospects in this draft (h/t Kipp Adams, 247Sports). 

Round 3, No. 97 overall: Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia


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Last but not least, in this three-round Detroit Lions mock draft, the team goes a little outside the box to fill a need and makes their head coach a happy man.

The team needs another weapon at wide receiver in this draft, but it isn’t the most pressing priority with last year’s breakout star Amon-Ra St. Brown and free-agent signing D.J. Chark on the roster.

By pick No. 97, the top two to three tiers of WR will likely be off the board, so the Lions will have to get creative. Enter 6-foot-7, 259-pound Virginia tight end Jelani Woods. Yes, the Lions have star TE T.J. Hockenson, but they have o depth behind him, and the former Iowa Hawkeye has already missed nine games in just three seasons.

In the modern NFL, having two excellent tight ends is a considerable benefit schematically, especially if both those TEs are excellent pass-catcher and willing run-blockers as Hockenson and Wood would be. Plus, having the two of them would make longtime TE Dan Campbell incredibly happy.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference