The Detroit Lions, as expected, took Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft, then made a surprising move by trading up to the No. 12 pick to land Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams.
The Lions also got the No. 46 pick in their swap with the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for picks Nos. 32, 34 and 66.
Lions general manager Brad Holmes said throughout this past season that he couldn't escape the chatter of fans pushing him to select Hutchinson, even while casually dropping in and out of restaurants near the team's practice facility.
Way before enjoying an All-America career at Michigan, where he was named a 2021 Heisman Trophy finalist, Hutchinson played defensive end, tight end, offensive lineman and long-snapper at Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. He was born in Plymouth, which is less than 30 miles from Ford Field.
"It's always great to get the hometown favorite, but I know there's a lot of fanfare for Aidan," Holmes said. "His ability to stay home and hopefully be, not only a productive player for our football team, but I know that he'll make his mark in this community. He already has so it's only gonna continue to trend up from here."
Hutchinson, who is the highest-drafted defensive player in Michigan history, said that it's "great to come back to home."
"The whole draft process, I wanted them to pick me," he said.
The Lions need a game-changer to help immediately after a 3-13-1 finish and ranking 31st in opponents' points per game (27.5) last season. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, they have finished in the bottom five in pressure percentage in each of the past six seasons. Last season they were 29th in pressure percentage and 30th in sacks.
Hutchinson set the Michigan single-season record with 14 sacks in 2021, a mark previously held by David Bowens (1996) and LaMarr Woodley (2006) with 12. Hutchinson generated pressure on 16% of opposing quarterbacks' dropbacks, the seventh-highest rate in the FBS in 2021.
"He's going to change the dynamic of this team just by his presence and how he plays," Detroit defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said. "He's a true fit in every way."
Hutchinson is a Michigan man to the core. His father, Chris, was a former team captain for the Wolverines who played defensive tackle and outside linebacker from 1989 to 1992. His mother, Melissa, also went to Michigan, as did his sisters, Mia and Aria, who both graduated from the university.
With Georgia's Travon Walker going No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, this is the first time since 1972 that defensive ends went with the top two picks.
Up until the start of this week, odds boards had Hutchinson as the consensus pick to go No. 1 to the Jaguars.
"It seemed like things started changing a couple days ago," Hutchinson said, "but I'm grateful to be where I'm at."
Williams is the fifth receiver the Lions have drafted in the first round in the past 20 years, tied for most in the NFL. He continues to recover from an ACL surgery after suffering a knee injury during the national championship game in January.
"A timetable, I really don't have one," Williams said. "I'm just pushing for being ready for training camp."
As a junior, Williams had 79 catches for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns, making him one of five FBS players and the only SEC player to eclipse 1,500 receiving yards last season. His eight touchdown catches of 50-plus yards in 2021 were tied for the most in a season by an FBS player over the past 15 seasons.
The Lions will hope Williams' big-play ability can boost their passing attack, which had only two total pass plays of 50 or more yards last season, tied for the third-fewest in the NFL.
Despite having little contact with the Lions throughout the pre-draft process, Williams said he sees himself becoming a big part of the offense and admired them for moving up 20 spots to go after him.
"It just showed me that I'm a wanted player on the roster and I'm going to have a chance to make a big impact," he said.