Brad Holmes: Ranking his 3 Best Draft Picks

Coming into the 2022 NFL season, it was vital to the Lions’ success that Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell scored on their draft picks. With the adversity many Lions fans have faced throughout the countless years of horrible selections, it is not often one of the best drafting GMs in Brad Holmes gets his shot to change the legacy of the Lions’ draft day woes.

In the 2021 draft, Holmes clarified his intentions with the regime he was building. The hiring of Dan Campbell and the selections of players like Penei Sewell, Levi Onwuzurike, and Alim McNeill, has made it clear that Holmes wants the Lions to be aggressive, especially in the trenches.

With that being said, let’s look at how the Lions’ front office did at expanding their roster to fit their needs, and to do that, I will be looking at the three best that were made for the Lions during the 2022 NFL Draft.

Honorable Mention: Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois

Joseph is very much still learning and developing in the safety position as a converted wide receiver, but he brings almost unmatched ball skills and athleticism to a safety crowd in Detroit that has been lacking. He tallied five interceptions in his only year as starting safety for the Illini, as well as posting a 90.4 grade for PFF, which was the highest in the country. The only reason that this pick is not higher is that Joseph feels like a “wait-and-see” player, as his development within the safety position will prove whether he was the right choice at the 97 pick.

3: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

Hutchinson was college football’s best pass rusher during his senior season, boasting 14 sacks (breaking Michigan’s all-time sack record) and 16 tackles for a loss, while also recording the highest PFF grade of any defender at 94.5. He stood out to Holmes and Campbell as a team player, and someone who put his heart on the football field, and it showed, as he led the Michigan squad to a Big Ten Championship and Michigan’s first appearance in the College Football Playoff. Hutch showed elite speed and athleticism at the scouting combine, and it shows on the field. The only knock on his metrics is his below-average arm length, which has never proven to be a problem on the football field.

The Lions had this pick fall into their lap, and Hutchinson feels like the selection that should have been made, which is why this pick is only at number three.

2: Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, Oklahoma State

Going through the first five rounds of the NFL draft, it seemed like the Lions were never going to address one of their biggest defensive needs at the linebacker position. But, at pick 188 in the sixth round, the Lions took Malcolm Rodriguez out of Oklahoma State. Rodriguez lacks the measurements of your NFL linebacker stars, but he makes up for that in pure athleticism. He put up 36 reps on the bench press during his pro day, while also scoring an elite speed and agility grade through the Relative Athletic Score (RAS) chart.

Rodriguez also worked his way up for the Cowboys, starting as a special teamer and eventually becoming a bright spot for their defense. He put up 129 tackles during his senior season, with 16 tackles for a loss and three sacks. He will not be the most polished player on day one, but developing Rodriguez through the use of his athleticism will make him fit right into the developing culture of this new-look Lions team.

1: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Coming into the 2022 Draft, the Lions desperately needed a receiver, but no one expected them to be grabbing one so early on. Jameson Williams is coming off an amazing season for the Crimson Tide, putting up over 1500 yards and 15 touchdown’s. His elite speed and his height make him a fearsome threat over the top and on 50/50 balls. However, he is also an excellent and smooth route runner and demonstrates fantastic transitions in his breaks, allowing for great yards after the catch. Of course, there are concerns with his size at around 180 pounds, but the real concern is the ACL tear he suffered during the National Championship. Of course, an ACL tear is obviously serious for a player’s development if not healed correctly, but with recovery steadily improving every year, Jameson Williams is optimistic that he will be able to play as soon as the preseason.

Without the ACL risk, Williams would have no doubt been the first wide receiver off the draft board. This grade, however, is not just for the player, but the pick itself, and that includes a very bold trade-up with the Vikings. The Vikings received the Lions’ 32nd, 34th, and 66th selections, while the Lions got the 12th overall selection and the 46th pick. In many experts’ eyes, this trade was a win for the Lions as they moved up 20 spots in the first round for a 2nd and a 3rd rounder, which is almost unheard of in the draft (outside of a few demonstrably bad outliers). All in all, this selection stood out clearly as the Lions’ most aggressive, bold, and therefore best pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.