Lions' Holmes looking to go two-for-two landing difference-makers at the top of the draft

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions managed to find a difference-maker with the No. 7 pick in the draft a year ago, so it would stand to reason they shouldn't have much trouble scoring another with the No. 2 overall choice this season. 

Asked about what type of player he hoped to acquire with the selection, general manager Brad Holmes couldn't help but smile, even if his answer was a bit more coy. 

“I hope it’s a difference-maker if it’s two," Holmes said, seemingly acknowledging the possibility of a trade. "But we’re still going through that process now. We’ll kind of talk about that later on down in the process and hopefully get some more clarity starting as early as we do the Senior Bowl. But I do think it is a good draft, though. It is a good draft at pretty much all the positions, really. I think that we’ll be in a good spot."

Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux.

The Lions agreed to coach the Senior Bowl next month, followed by March's combine and a full slate of pro days leading up to April's draft. Those events are all good for checking boxes and confirming the work scouts have done for years on each of the prospects, but it's important to understand much of the evaluation is already complete  

"I will say we have a good, thorough, unique process and we utilize all facets with the manpower that we have, plus the technology that we have available to us," Holmes said. "I’ve always said from Day 1 that we’re going to use technology as the accelerators that they are. That’s what we’ve done at this point of the process. We feel really good where we’re at right now heading into the all-star circuit.”

For subscribers: Lions 'lay the foundation' in first season under Brad Holmes, Dan Campbell

With his first pick as Detroit's GM, Holmes snagged Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell in the first round last year. And despite some brief struggles early in the season, he finished the year looking like he has the potential to be selected to multiple Pro Bowls. 

The focus at the top of this class is a pair of dominant edge rushers, Sewell's former college teammate Kayvon Thibodeaux and Michigan's Aiden Hutchinson. Either could help the Lions, who have struggled to consistently pressure the passer in recent years. 

Charles Harris led the way for Detroit this season, but he had more than 30 pressures more than his next teammate, Julian Okwara. Romeo Okwara, who was lost for the season to a torn Achilles in Week 4, was third with 16 pressures. 

Sewell offered a quick scouting report on Thibodeaux before leaving the team's facility for the offseason. 

"He stands out, just his physical attributes and his athletic ability," Sewell said. "He just has to keep his head down and just keep working. But yeah, he’ll be a great player in this league."