NFL Draft: Mel Kiper Jr. Predicts Detroit Lions Solve Their Biggest Problem, but Not at No. 2

Despite finishing with the second-worst record in the league last year and earning the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NFL DraftDetroit Lions fans come into the offseason optimistic. The team played hard for its first-year head coach Dan Campbell and was more competitive than expected.

Now, the Lions have a chance to make a leap to respectability for the first time in years with two first-round picks in the 2022 draft. A big part of this rebuilding process needs to be finding a franchise quarterback, and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. thinks the Lions will do this, just not with the No. 2 pick.    

The Detroit Lions need a quarterback 

Ole Miss QB Matt Corral, pictured here at 2022 Sugar Bowl, could go to the Detroit Lions in the NFL Draft according to Mel Kiper Jr.
Matt Corral | Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When the Detroit Lions traded longtime signal-caller Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams last offseason, they got Jared Goff back. The former Rams’ No. 1 overall pick never developed into a superstar, but he did offer the Lions a bridge to help get the team through its rebuild.

In 2021, Goff started 14 games for his new team. The former Cal Bear posted a 3-10-1 record as a starter while passing for 3,245 yards and throwing 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

It was an OK season, but it also proved Goff isn’t the long-term answer at the position for the Lions (or any other team for that matter).

Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL, and any team that doesn’t have a good one needs one to have any hope of postseason success. That’s why QB is the top concern for Detroit in 2022 and moving forward until they find one.

The Lions sat out the wild QB carousel this offseason. They seemingly passed on players like Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, and others. Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo are still out there, but all signs point to the NFL draft as Detroit’s next opportunity to solve their QB crisis.

Mel Kiper Jr. thinks that’s exactly what the franchise will attempt to do in late April, but not at the lofty No. 2 spot.

Mel Kiper Jr. predicts the Lions will draft Ole Miss QB Matt Corral at No. 32

The Detroit Lions own the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft thanks to their 3-13-1 record this season. They also have the No. 32 pick, though, compliments of the defending Super Bowl champion LA Rams. That pick was part of last offseason’s Matthew Stafford/Jared Goff trade.  

At No. 2, it seems like the Lions loved hometown favorite from right down the road at Michigan, defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. Unfortunately for Dan Campbell and company, it now looks like the pass rusher will go No. 1 to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Lions need talent upgrades all over the field, so DEs Travon Walker from Georgia or Kayvon Thibodeaux from Oregon are possibilities, as are offensive tackles like Evan Neal from Alabama or Ikem Ekwonu from NC State.

With a relatively weak QB class this year, No. 2 is too high for Liberty’s Malik Willis or Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett. However, if Detroit can trade back, one of those top two passers could make sense.

If things stay like they are, though, and the Lions take their second pick, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. believes the Lions will still address the quarterback position in the first round. He has the Motor City squad taking Matt Corral from Ole Miss at No. 32.

The growing buzz around Matt Corral

Matt Corral is a 6-foot-2, 212-pound quarterback from Ole Miss. He played in 34 games during his four years in Oxford, Mississippi. The Ventura, California native threw for 8,287 yards with a 67% completion rate. He also tossed 57 TD while throwing 23 INTs. The athletic QB added 1,338 yards on the ground and scored 18 rushing TDs, per OleMissSports.com.

In 2021, under head coach Lane Kiffin, Corral helped lead the Rebels to a 10-3 record (6-2 in the SEC), a Sugar Bowl appearance, and a No. 11 ranking.

Unlike many first-round NFL draft prospects, Corral decided to play in his team’s bowl game and got a major scare. In the first quarter of the Sugar Bowl against Baylor, Corral went down with a scary-looking leg injury. Luckily, it turned out to be a severe high ankle sprain instead of the break or tear it initially looked like.

Still recovering, Corral opted out of physical activity at the NFL Combine. He did have a pro day in Mississippi on Wednesday, March 23.

According to ESPN’s Todd McShay, his ankle looked strong and fully healed, and the QB impressed the draft expert with his “incredible quickness” in all areas of his game. Corral did have issues with accuracy as his arm fatigued, but, overall, he impressed talent evaluators with his athleticism and arm strength.

While Mel Kiper Jr. projects the Detroit Lions to take Corral at No. 32, they may not get the chance. McShay also reported that three head coaches attended the Ole Miss QB’s workout in person: The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, Atlanta Falcons’ Arthur Smith, Carolina Panthers’ Matt Rhule, and Dallas Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy.

The Steelers, Falcons, and Panthers are all teams that could scoop Corral up in Round 1 before he gets to the Lions at No. 32.

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