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The dust has settled on the second Detroit Lions draft class under Brad Holmes, and a theme is starting to become quite clear. Under the Holmes/Campbell regime, they value high character players, especially those who were team captains. On top of that, they covet prospects with primer athleticism.
Detroit walked away with one of the top athletic classes in the 2022 draft and will look to continue building its foundation with potential cornerstone players and strong depth rounding out the roster. We will get our first glimpse of these prospects with minicamp right around the corner, but what kind of comparisons can we make on these players?
Here are the best comparisons for the Lions 2022 draft class.
Hutchinson: 1st round (2nd overall)
Crosby: 4th round (106th overall)
Crosby’s rookie stats: 47 tackles, 16 TFLs, 14 QB hits, 10 sacks, 4 forced fumbles (72% snap count)
Hutchinson compared quite favorably to another Michigan college prospect, Maxx Crosby from Eastern Michigan, with almost identical matches outside the bench press and broad jump. Crosby has taken the league by storm after finishing his rookie year as the runner-up to the Defensive Rookie of the Year behind Nick Bosa, who was taken in the first round and earned a contract extension.
Expectations for Hutchinson walking into Detroit are quite high, but if he can match the numbers Crosby was able to put up his rookie year, the Lions could make major strides forward.
WR Jameson Williams: Free agent WR Will Fuller
Williams: 1st round (12th overall)
Fuller: 1st round (21st overall)
Fuller’s rookie stats: 47 receptions (51% catching percentage), 635 yards (13.5 yards per catch), and 2 touchdowns. (84% snap count)
Even though Williams didn’t participate in the Combine while healing from his ACL injury, most agree if he did, he would have left it in the dust with his speed. Like Fuller, who was also slightly undersized, these receivers win due to their athleticism. When Fuller has been on the field, he has been a dominant presence, but unfortunately, he hasn’t played a full season due to injury and suspensions. Hopefully, Williams does not fall into the same injury narrative. Likely the Lions don’t need to rush him on the field and allow him to heal fully before hitting the field.
Paschal: 2nd round (46th overall)
Ogbah: 2nd round (32nd overall)
Ogbah rookie stats: 53 tackles, 16 QB hits, 8 TFLs, 5.5 sacks. (76 % snap count)
Paschal falls right in line from an athletic standpoint with another second-round selection in Ogbah, who was a let bloomer during his time in Cleveland. When he arrived came Miami, he took his game to another level, notching 18 sacks in two years, and awarded him a 4-year contract. Paschal will look to break into the Lions defensive line, who at this point took Hutchinson and fortified the defensive line in last year’s draft with back-to-back defensive tackles. Paschal will be a versatile chess piece that can line up almost anywhere and find those favorable matchups.
S Kerby Joseph-Free agent S Jeff Heath
Joseph: 3rd round (97th overall)
Heath: Undrafted (Signed with Dallas Cowboys)
Heath’s rookie stats: 47 tackles, 3 PBUs, 1 INT, and 1 forced fumble (returned for TD). (52% defensive snaps, 67% special teams snaps)
Joseph did not test fully to receive full athletic marks, but he falls right in line with Michigan resident Jeff Heath between size and length. It took quite some time for Heath to make his mark with the Cowboys playing sparingly until 2018 when he started every game. Like Heath, Joseph will more than likely play as a free safety when he is on the field but will probably make his money as a special teams gunner.
TE James Mitchell-Detroit Lions TE Brock Wright
Mitchell: 5th round (177th overall)
Wright: Undrafted (Signed with the Detroit Lions)
Wright’s rookie stats: 12 catches (70.6% catch percentage), 177 yards (9.8 yards per catch), and 2 touchdowns. (48% offensive snaps, 42% special teams snaps).
Mitchell did not test due to recovering from injury, but he was being touted as one of the more athletic tight ends in this draft class before his injury. His best comparison is fellow Detroit Lion tight end Brock Wright, who more than likely will be competing against him for a roster spot. After Hockensen’s injury, Wright saw some extended time and was a serviceable option. As long as Mitchell is on track to be ready for camp, this will be one roster fight to keep your eyes on.
LB Malcolm Rodriguez-FA LB Darron Lee
Rodriguez: 6th round (188th overall)
Lee: 1st round (20th overall)
Lee’s rookie stats: 73 tackles, 3 TFLs, 3 QB Hits, 3 PBUs, 1 sack (76% defensive snaps, 42% special teams snaps)
Rodriguez spots an impressive athletic profile outside of his size, similar to another undersized linebacker in Darron Lee. After an impressive combine performance, Lee shot up draft boards leading to his first-round selection. Even though he had a solid stat line, his all-around performance was sorely lacking throughout his Jets tenure, which inevitably declined his fifth-year option. Lee has been suspended a couple of times and still looking for a team to sign with. Rodriguez seems to have the right head on his shoulders and should be a contributor on special teams to start and perhaps make his way as a defensive regular.
James Houston-Micah Parsons
Houston: 6th round (217th overall)
Parsons: 1st round (12th overall)
Parsons’ rookie stats: 84 tackles, 30 QB hits, 20 TFLs, 13 sacks, 3 PBUs, and 3 forced fumbles. (84% snap count)
Houston was a surprise selection as the Lions have already selected two edge rushers up to this point, but this late in the draft, you take upside players you can try to develop, and Houston falls right in that category. For his player comp, I relied on his former Jackson State coach Deion Sanders, who compared Houston to Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons, and looking at the side-by-side athletic comparison, that may not be far off the mark. Now expectations should be kept in check with Houston, who has an uphill battle for a roster spot, but if there is anyone who can untap that potential is this Lions coaching staff.
CB Chase Lucas: Houston Texans CB Jimmy Moreland
Lucas: 7th round (237th overall)
Moreland: 7th round (227th overall)
Moreland’s rookie stats: 42 tackles, 4 PBUs (48% defensive snaps, 42% special teams snaps)
As seventh-round selections, Lucas and Moreland have the same narrative as athletic corners in hopes of building the depth in the secondary and potentially start if needed. Moreland had become a valuable contributor for the Washington Commanders on defense as a slot corner and special teams but was a surprise cut and landed with the Houston Texans. The Lions secondary room is crowded, and unless Lucas can prove his value on special teams, it will be tough for him to find a spot on the 53-man roster and primed for a practice squad slot.