The Detroit Lions will soon make a critical decision that could alter the trajectory of their franchise. Lions general manager Brad Holmes owns the second overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, which is officially less than two weeks away. Holmes and the Lions could realistically take that selection in several different directions. The Lions currently lack a long-term solution at the quarterback position. Jared Goff is largely viewed as a veteran stopgap, and the Lions are expected to have their pick of the litter at No. 2 overall, seeing that the Jacksonville Jaguars will not be selecting a quarterback. The Lions are doing their due diligence on this year’s crop of signal-callers. Liberty’s Malik Willis will reportedly visit the team privately on Tuesday, and Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett will visit Detroit on Wednesday. Another player that is gaining considerable steam for the Lions at No. 2 overall is Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, whose betting odds via several oddsmakers trended in a considerably lower direction than their previous listing.
It qualifies as particularly interesting, given we have reached the point in the calendar where certain draft-related decisions become increasingly clear. The updated odds are now as follows:
Some interesting betting odds changes over the weekend for No. 2 overall pick (#OnePride):
Kayvon Thibodeaux's odds to be chosen are getting lower:
*Aidan Hutchinson is still the favorite
— Jaime Eisner (@JaimeEisner) April 18, 2022
Things are beginning to come full circle in relation to Oregon’s feared pass rusher. Thibodeaux’s metaphorical draft stock (it’s difficult to say with certainty how teams really feel) has experienced a rollercoaster ride throughout the pre-draft process. Thibodeaux was initially viewed as being in contention for the top selection before rumors (we emphasize the word rumors) began circulating regarding a less-than-ideal work ethic and attitude. With Thibodeaux’s odds of being a top-two selection once again increasing at a critical period of the pre-draft experience, it’s possible such whispers were premature and/or unfounded.
Should Holmes and the Lions ultimately select Thibodeaux, it would represent an excellent choice for their franchise at a position of need. On film, Thibodeaux is an excellent athlete with ideal quickness, flexibility, and body control necessary to make life difficult for offensive tackles. Thibodeaux routinely impacted opposing pockets throughout a highly successful three-year career as a Duck, having recorded 19.0 sacks across that time frame.
The tape study paints a picture of an athletic pass rusher with multiple pass-rushing tools in his arsenal, and the workout circuit confirmed more of the same. Between the NFL Scouting Combine and Oregon’s Pro Day, Thibodeaux posted some impressive numbers that included running a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash, an especially eye-popping result given his 6-foot-4, 254-pound frame. Thibodeaux also showcased his strength by posting 27 reps on the bench press (at 225 pounds). A 2.64 and 1.56 in the 20- and 10-yard-splits, respectively, further highlighted the first-step explosion and quickness we routinely saw from Thibodeaux during on-field action.
The Lions could certainly use the injection of talent at the pass-rushing positions going forward that Thibodeaux appears fully capable of providing. Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and head coach Dan Campbell lacked a true blue-chip talent across their defensive line last season and the current roster remains relatively intact in that regard. The Lions managed a pathetic 30 sacks in 17 regular-season contests in 2021, which doesn’t even amount to two sacks per game. Only the Atlanta Falcons (18) and Philadelphia Eagles (29) recorded fewer quarterback takedowns than the Lions did.
Last year’s team-sack leader was the resurgent Charles Harris, who totaled a modest 7.5 sacks. A former first-round selection of the Miami Dolphins in 2017, Harris finally showcased the professional pass-rushing chops that made him a desired prospect so many years ago. Harris was rewarded with a two-year contract extension for his efforts by the Lions earlier this offseason, but Detroit must pair him with more appropriate running mates going forward, seeing that he lacks the talent of a true blue-chip pass rusher. Thibodeaux could become that player for the Lions.
Holmes and the Lions are on the cusp of making a monumental decision that could theoretically be taken in various directions. Drafting Thibodeaux would be a good decision.