Getty Treylon Burks is running for a big play in 2020 for Arkansas.
The NFL offseason has winded down after a free-agent frenzy, so the next few weeks will be filled with waiting and anticipation for the Detroit Lions ahead of the big moments of the 2022 draft.
After the Lions have enjoyed a modest spending spree in free agency, the draft is shaping up to be of the utmost importance for the team heading into 2022, given that this is how the team will build its roster going forward to maintain the success.
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With the help of The Draft Network’s simulator, our third mock of the 2022 offseason has been put together, and it features the team doing heavy lifting on a side of the ball that’s seen as particularly needed heading into the draft.
Here’s a look at the final drill of the offseason just after free agency has slowed to a crawl in the quiet before the storm of draft week.
First round, pick number two: Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan
The Lions need a lot of help rushing the quarterback, and who better than a local prospect to help them do it? In this drill, the Lions had a choice between Hutchinson or Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux since Jacksonville became the offensive line. Georgia’s Travon Walker was still on the board as well. They are all solid and Thibodeaux has a big advantage. Hutchinson, however, offers immediate production and wickedness to Detroit and is a local player.
This last year in college, his work has been even better than in the past. Hutchinson has put together a stellar regular season with 14 sacks, 58 tackles and 2 forced fumbles. He looked like one of the best defenders in college football during the second half of the season and has been a problem for the teams that have faced him thus far.
PlayAidan Hutchinson 2019 Highlights2020-02-18T13:23:44Z
Hutchinson stepped onto the podium in New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist and, with the Lions, could be expected to become the face of a renewed defense. He would perfectly embody the team spirit and Dan Campbell’s toughness on defense.
First round, 32nd pick: Treylon Burks, wide receiver, Arkansas
While Burks may have lost some of his shine in recent months with a lackluster performance at the combine, that doesn’t change his strong career playing for Arkansas, nor does it diminish what he’s managed to accomplish in 2021. Burks has been a player who has been able to put up numbers before, as evidenced by his 2,399 yards and 18 touchdowns in college. Burks also rushed for 222 yards and 1 touchdown on 18 attempts.
Here’s a look at Burks’ highlights while in college:
PlayTreylon Burks: The BEST WR in college football | 2021 HighlightsThe best of the game… Twitter: twitter.com/hoggyboneswps2021-11-29T01:30:33Z
A big-bodied wide receiver who can still move, Burks could end up being an asset in a loaded receiver class if he goes down like this mock thanks to his production. Given that the Lions need help in so many ways, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Lions take a closer look at him in this scenario. At that point in the draft, Burks could be a huge asset to Detroit’s big-play-hungry offense. That is why he is the chosen one.
Second round, 34th pick: Nakobe Dean, linebacker, Georgia
If the table drops like this for the Lions, they’d probably do somersaults to the podium to nab Dean, one of the best linebackers in the draft. Many hope Dean was gone perhaps much sooner, but in this simulation, he plummeted into the second round where the Lions caught him. It might make sense if this played out as well, given that Dean also visited Detroit before the draft.
Dean had a solid career with the Bulldogs amassing 168 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 2 interceptions and 7 passes defensed to go with 3 forced fumbles. The tape shows what an explosive athlete he is:
PlayNakobe Dean 🔥 Highlights ᴴᴰNakobe Dean Highlights (2021) best linebacker college football greatest hits2021-10-29T00:31:09Z
By drafting Dean, the Lions would have effectively shored up one of their biggest holes of the 2021 season at linebacker. Pairing him with Derrick Barnes could make a formidable duo in a few years as the pair learn the league together. It still looks like Detroit would be lucky if Dean went down, but that situation is playing out in a lot of drills and simulations now, making it a little more likely than it first seemed in February or March.
Third round, 66th pick: Brian Asamoah, linebacker, Oklahoma
The linebacker is one of the most explosive players in the class given his combination of speed and athleticism, and any team that drafts Asamoah will have to find a way to harness his talents. Statistically, Asamoah is a guy who has the ability to put up numbers as his career has shown. With Oklahoma, Asamoah posted 168 stats and 5 sacks to go with 12 tackles for loss. He also visited the Lions pre-draft, so there’s interest there.
Here’s a look at some of his highlights while playing for the Sooners:
PlayBrian Asamoah 2021 Highlights | Oklahoma LI | 2022 NFL Draft Prospect Big 12 Safe Tackling LB 2021 Stats: 80 Tackles, 1 Sack, 2 FF2022-01-28T23:15:13Z
The Lions have to like this type of playmaker for their defense, and watching the video, it’s easy to see why he could make a lot of sense for the team. If Detroit charges at linebacker, no one could blame them given their shortcomings at the position recently.
Third round, 97th pick: Coby Bryant, cornerback, Cincinnati
Perhaps the best name in the class, Bryant would come to Detroit with a bit of the “Mamba Mentality” from a solid career with the Bearcats. He may not be Willow Gardner, but he’s not bad either. During the Senior Bowl, the Lions got a close look at Bryant and had to be impressed with what the gritty corner was able to do. In his career with Cincinnati, Bryant had 170 tackles and 9 interceptions. Here’s a look at the tape of him:
PlayCoby Bryant || UC Bearcats defensive back || Highlights of 2021The highlights of Coby Bryant’s 2021 season. 38 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions, 11 pass deflections. Bryant is a projected mid-round draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. We do not own the copyright to this video, it belongs to ESPN and its affiliates. Everything shown in the video…2021-12-02T04:27:39Z
Detroit needs the help of a cornerback, and Bryant will add to the depth of a young group that could be poised to explode in years to come. Spending another third-round pick at the job could prove to be a wise investment over time.
Fifth round, 177th pick: Leon O’Neal Jr., safety, Texas A&M
The Lions have been missing something nasty for quite some time on defense, and O’Neal is perhaps the player best suited to help that resurgence in this draft class at safety. Detroit needs some strength and a player who is capable of covering ground, which is just what O’Neal did in his time with the Aggies, to get big hits. Statistically, he had 161 tackles and 6 interceptions in his career along with 12 passes defensed. More important than that was the advantage and the mentality with which he plays.
PlayLeon O’Neal Jr. Highlights 2021 | Texas A&M Database | 2022 NFL Draft Prospect Hard-hitting safety for the Aggies 2021 stats: 58 tackles, 2 INT, 1 sack, 1 FR2022-02-01T03:07:43Z
O’Neal probably goes higher than the fifth round, but the Lions could nab him with a mid-round pick and fix a lot of his midfield problems. He would be a great development prospect for Aaron Glenn and Aubrey Pleasant. Detroit hasn’t added anything in security in free agency, so it’s virtually necessary for the team to draft someone. In this case, O’Neal could be the perfect person for the team.
Round Five, Pick 181 – Thomas Booker, Defensive Line, Stanford
Booker may be moving up the draft boards a bit, so this could represent a lucky break if the Lions could end up with the plucky prospect who is a solid athlete for the middle of their defensive line. The Lions are likely hoping Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill will continue their development, but why not add a running mate? Booker, when healthy, has looked like an elite player for the Cardinal statistically in college, with 159 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 20.5 tackles for loss and 1 interception in his college career.
PlayThomas Booker || Freshman and Sophomore Highlights || BlazeThomas Booker Freshmen & Sophomores Highlights2020-01-03T03:37:46Z
Booker, along with Hutchinson and other young Lions up front, would give the team something to build on for the future. Detroit would be lucky to catch him that low, but if it happens, he would be a huge asset to Detroit going forward.
7th round, pick 217: Connor Heyward, tight end, Michigan State
After signing Garrett Griffin, the Lions might need one more addition to the job. The team needs a lot of depth and another local prospect provides it late. The son of former Pittsburgh legend Craig “Ironhead” Heyward and current Steelers star Cameron Heyward has strong NFL bloodlines and would fit the mold of what the Lions are trying to build from a game standpoint. the hardness. He also has great stats, with 825 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns remaining with 711 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. Here’s a look at one of his best plays from the 2021 season:
PlayConnor Heyward = George Kittle 2.0 | WHAT ANIMAL 💪2021-09-26T00:31:53Z
Heyward could be a nice sneaky addition to the Lions, and could help improve the team’s depth at tight end, as well as offer a potential dual role for the offense. He seems to fit into what Campbell and the staff are already doing, which could put him firmly on the team’s radar for the draft.
Round Seven, Pick 239 – Luke Wattenberg, IOL, Washington
Detroit’s offensive line has rejuvenated in recent seasons and appears to be strong. Why not add a piece later that could end up making it even stronger for the future? Wattenberg is solid against the pass, but could show up as a leveling run-blocker. This fits with what Hank Fraley, Dan Campbell and company want to see from his offensive lineman. Most of the players taken late in the seventh round become drafts, and Wattenberg would have a long way to go to make the team and excel given what he’s on the roster ahead of, but he has a lot of potential. Here’s a look at some highlights:
PlayLuke Wattenberg Center HighlightsNFL Center Prospect Luke Wattenberg Highlights2022-03-30T16:35:59Z
Wattenberg has positional versatility up front, which is important for Detroit. Since the late bets are on the offensive interior, this could be a good one for Detroit.
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