We are not sure exactly why ESPN’s Mel Kiper is considered to be an NFL Draft guru but for some reason, many believe that is the case.
Anyways, Kiper dropped his first 2022 NFL Mock Draft and he has the Detroit Lions selecting EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux out of Oregon and QB Sam Howell.
Here is what Kiper has to say about the picks.
Note: Kiper had the Jaguars selecting EDGE Aidan Hutchinson out of Michigan with the No. 1 overall pick.
Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
The Lions finished with the same number of wins (three) as the Jaguars, but doesn’t it feel as if they’re in a much better position? Well, maybe not so fast. The defense allowed the second-most points in the league (27.5 per game), and the offense had major consistency issues, which led to coordinator Anthony Lynn’s firing. This is a roster that could use talent upgrades at several positions.
That’s why it’s a no-brainer to take Thibodeaux or Hutchinson here, whoever is still on the board. Thibodeaux, who was a No. 1 overall high school recruit, has elite upside. His get-off at the snap is lightning-quick, and though he’s still developing secondary pass-rush moves, he doesn’t need them when he can blow by offensive tackles before they’re out of their stance. Thibodeaux had half as many sacks (seven) as Hutchinson this season, but he had the second-best pressure rate in the country (17.8%). Charles Harris, who led Detroit with 7.5 sacks this season, is a free agent, which makes this even more of a problem position.
28. Detroit Lions
Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
I’m not sold on Jared Goff being Detroit’s guy past 2022, so why not take a quarterback flier here with the pick it got from the trade with the Rams? By taking Howell in Round 1, the Lions would get his fifth-year option, which means they could hand over the reins in 2023. Yes, they have a lot of needs, but if they think they can get their future starting signal-caller, they should pounce.
Sam Howell fools South Carolina and passes 37 yards to Garrett Walston for a TD, the 2-point conversion attempt succeeds.
Howell is a tricky evaluation, and he could definitely drop to Round 2. He looked like a potential top-10 pick after his sophomore season in 2020. At the beginning of the 2021 season, though, he really struggled, and he put a lot of bad tape out there while throwing to a completely new set of pass-catchers. He settled back in and improved down the stretch, finishing with 24 touchdown passes and nine picks, plus 11 rushing scores. He throws a beautiful deep ball and has tremendous touch on passes.