NFC North first-round draft roundup: Detroit Lions take Michigan native, then make big trade up
GREEN BAY - Of the Green Bay Packers' NFC North rivals, only the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings were set to make selections in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft Thursday.
The Chicago Bears surrendered their first-round pick, No. 7 overall, as part of last year's trade up with the New York Giants to select Justin Fields.
Detroit made the first of two first-round picks, taking a defensive lineman before making a trade with Minnesota to move up and chose a wide receiver.
The Vikings moved down after trading with the Lions and shored up the safety position with the pick.
Once projected to go No. 1 overall, Aidan Hutchinson didn't slide far with the Lions choosing the Michigan native with the very next pick.
The Jacksonville Jaguars chose Georgia defensive end Travon Walker with the first pick.
Hutchinson is the highest-ever player drafted out of the University of Michigan, with former Green Bay Packer defensive back Charles Woodson being picked with the fourth pick by the Oakland Raiders.
Hutchinson brings a strong pedigree to the Lions after winning the Lombardi and Ted Hendricks awards, given to the nation's top lineman and defensive ends, respectively. Hutchinson was also a runner-up to the Heisman trophy.
Statistically, Hutchinson was third in the country with 14 sacks while racking up 62 tackles including 16.5 for loss.
Detroit certainly could use an increased pass rush as the Lions generated just 30 sacks as a team, 30th in the league. With toothless defensive pressure, Detroit was 31st in the NFL in points surrendered with 467.
After addressing the defense, the Lions picked Alabama speedster Jameson Williams, who tore his ACL late in the national championship.
To move up to No. 12 for Williams, Detroit traded Minnesota pick Nos. 32, 34 and 66 while also getting No. 46 in return.
A track star in high school, Williams could have been the top wideout chosen if not for his ACL injury.
He began his collegiate career at Ohio State before transferring to Alabama this past season, becoming a Biletnikoff Award finalist, which goes to the nation's top receiver.
Receiver is a need for the Lions, with only Amon-Ra St. Brown a top-end option at wideout. St. Brown was a fourth-round selection in 2021.
Detroit was 18th in the NFL in receiving yards with 3,884 and tied for 16th with 23 touchdowns.
The addition of Williams allows Lions' quarterback Jared Goff to not focus his attention on just St. Brown and tight end tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Instead of staying at No. 12, Minnesota traded back with the Lions to pick Georgia safety Lewis Cine at No. 32.
Cine has high-end speed for a safety, clocking in at 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
The Vikings were 24th in points allowed last season, giving up 426 points.
Minnesota already has an All-Pro at safety in Harrison Smith, so Cine should help solidify a defense which slipped in form compared to season's past.
With his size and speed, Cine should be able to poke his nose closer to the line of scrimmage to stop the run in addition to the pass.