NFL Draft grades before a single player has stepped on the professional football field do not merit much notice. While we are all allowed to have opinions about these players, the fit in their new homes, and how their game will translate to the next level, time and time again speculators have been proven wrong. By now, I think we’ve all come to a mutual agreement to treat immediate draft grades with a grain of salt.
However, we can still have a little fun with them, especially when the Detroit Lions are getting rare praise by national outlets.
That’s definitely the case with the Lions 2022 NFL Draft haul. Perusing through Sunday morning NFL Draft grades, it’s clear to see that many of the major networks believed the Lions had one of the best weekends in the NFL. Here’s a sampling of the national grades.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that PFF loved the Lions’ draft, seeing as most of Detroit’s selections had highly-graded collegiate seasons by their service. Here’s a look at the PFF grades for each of their picks in their most recent full season:
- Aidan Hutchinson: 94.5
- Jameson Williams: 81.6
- Josh Paschal: 90.0
- Kerby Joseph: 90.4
- James Mitchell (2020): 71.3
- Malcolm Rodriguez: 85.7
- James Houston: 95.8
- Chase Luke 60.5
The Lions were just one of three teams to earn an A+ from PFF (Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs).
ESPN (Mel Kiper): B+
The Lions tied for the third-highest draft grade, behind only the Ravens (A) and New York Jets (A). Although Kiper still questions the timing of Detroit’s aggressive move to trade up and draft Jameson Williams, he admired Brad Holmes’ focus on pass rush.
“On Day 2, with the pick they got back from the Vikings when they traded up for Williams, the Lions went back to defensive end, taking Josh Paschal (46), who has some intriguing physical tools with which to work,” Kiper wrote . “Credit Holmes for trying to turn edge rusher from a weakness to a strength.”
Draft Wire (Doug Farrar): A
The Lions were one of four teams to earn Draft Wire’s highest grade. The other three teams were the Ravens, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, and Seattle Seahawks. Farrar was particularly impressed with the Lions’ Day 2 picks:
The Lions weren’t done making great picks, though — Josh Paschal is a multi-gap disruptor who brings Emmanuel Ogbah to mind, and there aren’t many single-high safeties in this class better than Kerby Joseph.
USA Today (Nate Davis): A
The Lions ranked third in Davis’ grades, behind only the Los Angeles Rams and Jets. He actually gave the Lions credit for passing on a quarterback in a risky class.
“And with two first-rounders at the ready for 2023, probably smart the Lions didn’t roll the dice on one of this year’s quarterbacks – opting instead on Day 2 for Kentucky DE Joshua Paschal and Illinois S Kerby Joseph, players who can contribute immediately,” Davis wrote.
Cleveland.com (Tim Bielik): A-
The Lions earned the fifth-highest grade from Bielik, ranking behind the Ravens, Jets, New York Giants, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Don’t look now, but the Lions are starting to build a fun football team. Aidan Hutchinson and Jameson Williams were great picks in the top 12. Josh Paschal adds leadership to the defensive front, and Kerby Joseph has intriguing potential at safety. Fifth-round pick James Mitchell is an injury wild card, but a solid low-risk, high-reward choice.
Pro Football Network (Ryan Gosling): B+
The Lions were one of many teams who earned a B+ in this draft, but only five teams were given a higher grade: the Jets, Ravens, Bengals, Colts, and Chiefs. Interestingly enough, Goslin really liked the Lions’ last picks, giving the selections of LB Malcolm Rodriguez, EDGE/LB James Houston and CB Chase Lucas an A-, A and A, respectively. His grades of Aidan Hutchinson (C+) and Josh Paschal (D+) dragged down the rest of the class a bit. Gosling called the Paschal pick “a bit of a reach,” but did not give an explanation for his Hutchinson grade.
DraftKings Nation: A
The Lions were just one of two teams to receive DraftKings Nation’s highest mark, the other being the Chiefs. They particularly liked the Lions’ picks on the first two days of the draft.
The Lions made great use of their early-round draft capital. They took DE Aidan Hutchinson No. 2 overall and WR Jameson Williams with the 12th overall pick. Detroit addressed their needs at DE and safety by taking Josh Paschal in the second and Kerby Joseph in the third.
SI.com (Connor Orr): A
The Lions ranked third on Orr’s list, behind just the A+ grades of the Ravens and Eagles. That being said, Orr believes Detroit could be the most improved team in 2022.
“The Lions may be the most improved team in the NFL next year by virtue of this class. With one slate of picks, both head coach and quarterback feel supported and pacified. There isn’t much more a GM can do.”
Other, slightly less flattering, grades
NFL.com (Chad Reuter): B+
Washington Post (Mark Maske): B-
Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer): B
New York Post: B+ (9th)
While many of these didn’t give any direct criticism, the most common complaint for the Lions’ draft was their perceived over-aggression in trading up for Jameson Williams in the first round.
“That’s a move you make for a star quarterback,” the Washington Post’s Mark Maske wrote. “There were too many other good receivers available. There are too many holes on this roster and too many other promising players who could have been drafted with the picks surrendered to facilitate the trade.”