Holmes says qualities in Hutchinson, Williams have been overlooked

Lions GM Brad Holmes was all smiles after he was able to nab two players in the first round of the NFL draft that he considers game-changers.

With the second overall pick on Thursday night, the Lions drafted defensive end Aidan Hutchinson who played at Michigan. Then Holmes traded up to the 12th pick to select wide receiver Jameson Williams from Alabama.

Hutchinson was a no-brainer. He and DE Travon Walker were likely to go 1-2 in some order on Thursday night. Indeed, Walker was drafted by Jacksonville with the top pick.

Hutchinson had 14 sacks for the Wolverines last season. He’s a leader, a high-energy player. He seems like a perfect fit for a Dan Campbell coached team.

But, there’s more.

“I think what gets lost is how effective he is in the run game. It’s a three-down league and I think what he does in the run game is overlooked in a good way because of the sacks,’’ Holmes said.

Hutchinson, who played at Dearborn Divine Child, is a hometown favorite.

“I know he’ll make his mark in this community, he already has so it’s going to continue to trend up from here. We’re thrilled with what he’s going to bring to our organization,’’ Holmes said.

Holmes had looked before the start of the draft about trading up for Williams.

“This guy is tough, he’s gritty, he’s a dog, he loves football. He just fits what we’re about,’’ Holmes said.

He also thinks Williams has the ability to be a game-changer, but the Lions have to do their part to set him up for success.

Holmes would not share a timetable for Holmes’ return from injury — he tore his ACL in the national championship game. 

“We feel very good with where we expect him to return,’’ Holmes said.

On Friday, the Lions have one second-round pick at 46th overall and one in the third round at 97th overall.

Hutchinson and Williams are expected at the Lions facility on Friday.

Lions trade up to draft WR Jameson Williams with 12th pick

The Lions saw no reason to wait around to grab a wide receiver. A deal with the Vikings allowed them to nab Jameson Williams, a wide receiver from Alabama, in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night.

Detroit traded picks 32, 34 and 46 to the Vikings for the 12th and 46th picks in the NFL draft.

Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said Williams’ speed on the outside can dictate coverage which is what they were looking for.

“I feel really good about where he can play for us, what his best skillset is right now and where he can grow. He’s got untapped potential that we think we can get out of him,” Johnson said, noting that he can play in any receiver spot.

Johnson said Williams has game-changing ability. He called him a “fearless competitor.” Also said he’s a passionate guy which is one of the boxes the Lions hope to check with each pick.

Last season Williams (6-foot-2 and 190 pounds) grabbed 79 passes, ranking fifth in the FBS with 1,572 receiving yards and tied for third with 15 receiving touchdowns in 15 starts. He posted an FBS-best 11 touchdowns of 30-plus yards in 2021. He was named a first-team Associated Press All-American, first-team All-SEC receiver and Co-SEC Special Teams Player of the Year (10-352-35.2, two TDs kick returns), and a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which honors the nation’s top receiver.

He suffered an ACL tear against Georgia in the national title game. He said on Thursday night that he doesn’t have a timetable for when he’ll be ready to play but hopes to be ready for training camp.

Johnson said he is not sure how Williams’ injury affected his draft stock, but also said that once he is healthy defenses will notice his speed.

Williams said he didn’t have much conversation with the Lions in the pre-draft process.

“I see myself as being a big part of this offense,” Williams said in a media call.

Williams was the fourth wide receiver drafted. Drake London (USC) went No. 8, Garrett Wilson (Ohio State) was 10th and Chris Olave (Ohio State) went 11th. 

According to his draft profile, Williams was able to eviscerate the cushion and blow by corners, his extra burst before route break forces coverage to bail out and separation feels inevitable on long-form patterns.

Earlier, with the second overall pick, the Lions drafted edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, who played at Michigan.

“It feels great to be home, once again … It was Lions all the way, the whole draft process, I wanted them to pick me,’’ Hutchinson said during a virtual call with the Lions media. 

Over and over again he said he is grateful the Lions picked him.

The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Travon Walker (Georgia) with the first overall pick. Hutchinson said his agent told him on Wednesday that it was about 90% he would not go to Jacksonville.

“I picked Michigan when I was in high school (Dearborn Divine Child), and to have the opportunity to play at home in front of a lot of the same fans. I’m so grateful, I can’t tell you how excited I am,’’ Hutchinson said.

Lions draft Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson with at No. 2

Aidan Hutchinson said he wanted to be drafted by the Lions all along.

The defensive end got his wish on Thursday night when he was drafted by the Lions with the second overall pick in the NFL draft. The Lions also traded up to draft WR Jameson Williams with the 12th overall pick.

Hutchinson at 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, who played at Michigan, fills a big need for the Lions.

“It feels great to be home, once again … It was Lions all the way, the whole draft process, I wanted them to pick me,’’ Hutchinson said during a virtual call with the Lions media. 

Over and over again he said he is grateful the Lions picked him.

The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Travon Walker (Georgia) with the first overall pick. Hutchinson said his agent told him on Wednesday that it was about 90% he would not go to Jacksonville.

“I picked Michigan when I was in high school (Dearborn Divine Child), and to have the opportunity to play at home in front of a lot of the same fans. I’m so grateful, I can’t tell you how excited I am,’’ Hutchinson said.

It’s not a huge surprise that the Lions nabbed the local kid who finished his senior season at Michigan leading the Wolverines to the 2021 College Football playoff. 

“He’s a Detroit Lion through and through,’’ said Aaron Glenn, Lions defensive coordinator.

After watching his Michigan freshman tape, Glenn said he saw more versatility from Hutchinson than he got credit for.

“All the coaches, we were firing on all cylinders when I had my visit. I’m really excited to get working with this coaching staff,’’ Hutchinson said.

He’s excited about working with coach Dan Campbell.

“He is one of the guys you want to play for. You saw it by the way he composes himself and he does his business. He’s one of those guys you want to buy into because you can tell how passionate he is about the game,’’ Hutchinson said. “I didn’t even have to meet him, just seeing him in interviews, just seeing how he interacted with reporters and how he felt about his team. It felt so genuine that’s what I appreciate the most.’’

Glenn said Hutchinson answered all the questions and also mentioned his character as a plus.

Last season he was ranked third in the FBS with 14 sacks among his 62 total tackles, including 16.5 for loss, while breaking up three passes and forcing two fumbles in 14 starts. 

Hutchinson is a legendary weight room grinder who is strong, flexible and explosive and possesses traits and toughness to play end in odd or even fronts, according to his NFL.com player profile.

His dad, Chris, was an All-American defender (1989-92) at Michigan and is now an emergency room doctor at Royal Oak Beaumont. When Aidan’s name was announced, the TV cameras caught a big hug between father and son.

Hutchinson is the 12th player the Lions have drafted from Michigan. The most recent Wolverine picks were Graham Glasgow and Jake Rudock in the 2016 draft. Neither one is still with the Lions.

“We’re going to be talking about Walker vs. Hutchinson for years to come,” Mel Kiper explained. “On my board, Hutchinson is the best prospect in this class. He dominated games in college, and he’s going to be a star for the Lions.’’ Kiper had Hutchinson going to Detroit in his final mock draft.