Did the Detroit Lions’ first-round trade work out for the best?

The dust has settled on the Detroit Lions‘ blockbuster trade in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. All of the picks involved in the trade have now been used on a player, giving us a little more insight into what the Lions could have had if they decided, instead, to let the board fall to them.

As a reminder, here are the picks involved in the trade, and the players subsequently drafted at each position.

Lions got:

  • Pick 12—WR Jameson Williams
  • Pick 46 — DL Josh Paschal

Vikings got:

  • Pick 32 — S Lewis Cine
  • Pick 34—WR Christian Watson (picked by Packers)
  • Pick 66—LB Brian Asamoah

That alone provides an interesting comparison. The Lions got a top-tier wide receiver and another edge player. But they could have gotten a receiver firmly in the second-tier of receivers with high upside, along with one of the best safeties in the class and a starting-caliber linebacker. Which is better? That’s up for debate.

But let’s take this debate a little further, because the Lions likely would not have made the identical picks made at their original draft slots. We’ll take a closer look at the other players available at each pick as we answer today’s Question of the Day:

Did the Lions trade work out for the best?

My answer: Let’s break down how the draft fell.

Here are the players who were available with the Lions’ original picks before trading them to the Vikings.

32:

  • WRs: Christian Watson, Alex Pierce, Skyy Moore, John Metchie III
  • S: Lewis Cine, Jalen Pitre, Jaquan Brisker, Bryan Cook
  • LB: Nakobe Dean, Chad Muma, Troy Anderson, Leo Chenal
  • CC: Andrew Booth, Roger McCreary, Kyler Gordon, Cam Taylor-Britt

34:

  • WRs: Christian Watson, Alex Pierce, Skyy Moore, John Metchie III
  • S: Jalen Pitre, Jaquan Brisker, Bryan Cook
  • LB: Nakobe Dean, Chad Muma, Troy Anderson, Leo Chenal
  • CC: Andrew Booth, Roger McCreary, Kyler Gordon, Cam Taylor-Britt

66:

  • WRs: Hairy Jones, Jalen Tolbert
  • S: Nick Cross, Kerby Joseph, JT Woods
  • LB: Nakobe Dean, Chad Muma, Brian Asamoah, Christian Harris,
  • CC: Martin Emerson, Marcus Jones

Obviously, all of this is in hindsight, and the Lions could have no way of knowing which of these players would have been available at each pick. However, this does give us a good sense of the kind of players they gave up in the move to grab Williams. So the question becomes:

Would you rather have Jameson Williams and Josh Paschal or…?

  • Christian Watson, Jalen Pitre and Chad Muma?
  • Jaquan Brisker, Chad Muma and Jalen Tolbert?
  • Andrew Booth, Alex Pierce and Nakobe Dean?

Again, it’s tough to judge—and some of you likely have an issue with the Lions’ pick of Paschal when they could have had most of the players available at 34 (save Christian Watson, Jalen Pitre, Boye Mafe, and Andrew Booth).

It’s truly a toss-up for me. I get the appeal of getting a potential blue-chip receiver who could turn out to be the best in this class. But the draft would have also played out nicely if the Lions had been more patient. Watson would’ve been a nice developmental wide receiver who could’ve played behind DJ Chark for a year. The Lions could’ve addressed safety earlier than they did and gotten an immediate starter alongside Tracy Walker—then landed Chad Muma to shore up the linebacking corps.

Ultimately, I’d probably have a slight preference to be patient and not trade up, but it’s not enough for me to be seriously upset about.

Your turn.

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