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 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.

Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson a good possibility for Lions with No. 2 pick

Nothing is for certain in the NFL draft which starts at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Typically there’s a consensus top pick or even top 10. Not this year. It’s actually more interesting than most. 

With the Lions’ second overall pick, they will likely draft an edge rusher, their biggest need. Of course, that pick will depend on who the Jacksonville Jaguars take at No 1. The top two picks could both be edge rushers. 

Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson for weeks had been considered the top overall pick, but Travon Walker (Georgia) has been moving up in many mock drafts and may be more attractive to the Jaguars. Still some draft gurus still have Hutchinson going to Jacksonville. Four of the five mocks at CBSsports.com have Hutchinson drafted by Detroit. The fifth has the Lions taking Kayvon Thibodeaux.

If Walker or even Kayvon Thibodeaux, an edge rusher from Oregon, goes to Jacksonville, the Lions will likely pounce on Hutchinson, the hometown kid. It won’t be a sentimental pick – he finished with 14 sacks last year (the Lions had 30 total) and is considered technically efficient. He’s a leader and everything a team could want with the No. 1 pick — unless they see more upside in Walker.

So there you go. No one knows for sure who will be wearing Honolulu blue, not even Lions GM Brad Holmes who is looking for a game-changer. Any one of the top three defensive ends could fit that bill.

The Lions also have another first-round pick (32nd overall) received in the trade deal to the Rams for Matthew Stafford.

That is even more questionable.

If quarterback Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati) is available he could be a good fit at 32nd. 

“I think he could be their starter soon. Ridder is a veteran with poise, arm strength and the ability to throw on the move,’’ ESPN’s Mel Kiper said about selecting Ridder as the Lions pick at 32 overall in a mock draft.

Ridder might not drop to the Lions. Same with quarterback Sam Hamilton (North Carolina). Quarterback Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh) could also be a possibility with that pick.

No guarantee the Lions go with a quarterback there.

Is that spot too early to think about wide receiver? Penn State’s Jahan Dotson could get the nod.

Defensive possibilities include linebacker Nakobe Dean (Georgia), linebacker Devin Lloyd (Utah) and safety Lewis Cine (Georgia). 

As Holmes mentioned in his pre-draft talk, the Lions will be prepared for the 32nd overall pick on the first night. And then on Friday they will be back on the clock with the 34th overall pick (second round).

All in all the Lions have eight picks — two in first round (2 and 32), one in second (34), two in third (66, 97), one in fifth (177) and two in sixth (181, 217).

While much of the focus is on the first round, perhaps Holmes can find a few more game-changers in the later rounds.

The draft starts at 8 p.m. on Thursday, 7 p.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday. It will be televised on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network.