Saturday, January 22, 2022

ESPN draft guru taunts defenders over Lions with ‘more athletic advantage’

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The Detroit Lions are starting the 2022 offseason with some momentum, and with the playoffs now set to roll back into the Super Bowl every weekend, it’s almost time to consider the NFL draft permanently.

Many mock drafts have been released over the past few weeks showing different things and while it is clear where the Lions will select, there is no telling who the team will ultimately select.

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Most people think the team could try to pick a defender if they decide, either Michigan’s Aiden Hutchinson or Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux. So far, this issue has been the closest to consensus, and there have even been outliers on this approach.

ESPN’s guru tandem Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have weighed a few times on what they think could happen, and it seems they’re sticking to the early notion that the defensive line will see the first two selections in the 2022 draft.

Speaking of which First draft Podcast, Kiper and McShay took turns to reveal a real-time Top 5 mock, and while Kiper made the first choice for Hutchinson to Jacksonville, McShay didn’t shy away from sending Thibodeaux to the Lions for a needy one support line of defense.

To explain, McShay said that with no clear players in other places where they are needed, the Lions could just take one of the best players in the draft as he sees it and help in a place that is badly needed in their current roster will .

“I am the lions. I need a quarterback. There’s no quarterback you can take second. We re-pick late in the first round with our traded pick, our second of our two first-round picks this year. Maybe you’ll get the quarterback there. Sitting here, offensive tackle isn’t a necessity like it is for Jacksonville or even the Jets. I think you go for the second best edge rusher or maybe the first best edge rusher on your board depending on team picks and that’s Kayvon Thibodeaux from Oregon,” said McShay. “They need an edge rusher, that’s probably the biggest need outside of quarterback, I would say wideout, cornerback, linebacker are other positions that are needed. Let’s face it, they have several positions to improve on this Detroit roster. I think Edge is up there near the top. They split hairs between Hutchinson and Thibodeaux. Hutchinson is now the more complete player, Thibodeaux has more athletic advantages. They look forward to getting 1 or 1A on that second pick. I think Thibodeaux would be the pick here if Hutchinson isn’t on the board.”

Whether Thibodeau is the pick or another player climbs the board elsewhere remains to be seen, but at this point the Lions could benefit from a sporting perspective by taking on one of the better overall talents in the entire draft.

According to USA Today NFL insider Josina Anderson last month, if the draft happened now and the Lions had the best pick, the “current mindset” for the team would have been to select Thibodeaux from Oregon. This is news Anderson tweeted at the time.

The Lions didn’t end up as the top pick overall, of course, but many have speculated that Thibodeaux could still end up in the second slot, much like McShay alluded to in this mock. Should Jacksonville not pick Hutchinson, the Lions could choose either defenseman, putting that theory to the ultimate test.

Thibodeaux’s pick would come as a bit of a surprise, as the Lions and others have seen Hutchinson go strong en route to a second-place finish at the Heisman Trophy late in the 2021 season. Still, Thibodeaux reckons he’s neck and neck on the player nearing the top of the draft and the Lions will now have to invest time deciding who suits them best should they fall between the two both can choose In April.

Thibodeaux is an interesting prospect considering he has a penchant for going to quarterback and making big plays up front. Earlier this season, Thibodeaux had accumulated 90 career tackles, 14 sacks and 26.5 tackles for losses in his collegiate career. He followed up a decent year in 2021 with 49 tackles, 7 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Here is some of his best work in the field:

It’s obvious that Thibodeaux has the physical capabilities to be great so it will be interesting to see how he tests and what the off-season process looks like. This will be his next step, even if he continues to see love in mock designs for the lions.

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