Alabama's Jameson Williams celebrates a first down against Georgia in the national championship game Jan. 10, 2022 in Indianapolis.

Detroit Lions trade up, draft WR Jameson Williams

LAS VEGAS — Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes promised to be aggressive when the time and the prospect were right, and he found his perfect match with the No. 12 pick of Thursday’s NFL draft.

Holmes traded the Lions second first-round pick, acquired in last year’s trade of Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams, plus picks No. 34 and 66 at the top of Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday, to the Minnesota Vikings to move up and draft speedy Alabama receiver Jameson Williams.

The Lions also received a second-round pick, No. 46 overall, in the deal.

“Hell yeah,” No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson told the Free Press shortly after the trade was finalized. “He’s dynamic out there on the field, just watching him in the natty (national championship game). It sucks to see him (tear his ACL in that game), so it was tough to see that. But I think the Lions just got a hell of a ballplayer and just a playmaker. I think we’re going to get along, for sure.”

Hutchinson said he appreciated the Lions’ aggressiveness in pursuing a trade up.

“It’s good to see,” he said. “I think the Lions are definitely making moves to try to get back to winning, so I’m all for it.”

Williams was one of the top deep threats in college football last season, but tore his ACL in Alabama’s national championship game loss to Georgia.

He caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns in his only season at Alabama after starting his college career at Ohio State.

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Williams said at the NFL combine in March he was ahead of schedule in what doctors pegged as a five- to seven-month recovery. He is expected back at some point early in the regular season.

Holmes, who took what many analysts consider the best player in the draft, Michigan’s Hutchinson, at Pick No. 2, described his draft philosophy last week as being selectively aggressive.

“I’ll probably sum it up like this, if there’s a player that we have buy-in and that we want, I’m going to try to get that player,” Holmes said. “That’s just bottom line. So there is value in being patient and sitting back. You’ve just got to assess where the value is on your draft board and kind of what the volume and depth is. But if the conviction is that high, yeah, you can’t just sit, wait and be patient and just see if that player’s going to be there or not. Sometimes you’ve got to be aggressive and go and get him. That’s how I stand, often. Now, there’s not a lot of those players throughout the draft always, but when that player is identified, I’ll always be aggressive.”

Williams was one of four receivers to go in the draft’s first 12 picks, and the third straight receiver taken after an early run on defensive linemen.

The Atlanta Falcons took USC’s Drake London at No. 8, the Seattle Seahawks followed with offensive tackle Charles Cross at No. 9, and receivers went with the next two picks, Garrett Wilson at No. 10 to the New York Jets and Chris Olave at No. 11, after a trade up, to the New Orleans Saints.

The cost of top-end receivers skyrocketed amid unprecedented movement this offseason. The Green Bay Packers traded Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins, and the Lions were rumored to be in the trade market for San Francisco 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel.

Drafting Williams likely takes the Lions out of the Samuel market, and Williams should join Amon-Ra St. Brown atop the team’s depth chart at receiver.

The Lions signed DJ Chark to a one-year deal be their X receiver this offseason, and also return Kalif Raymond, Quintez Cephus and Josh Reynolds in their receiving corps.

They passed on quarterbacks Malik Willis of Liberty and Kenny Pickett of Pitt, signifying their believe in Jared Goff at quarterback.

Goff averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt last season, the second-lowest total of his career, but played better in the second half of the season after a change in offensive play caller and when the Lions added Reynolds to their roster.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.


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