NFL draft: Lions sweated out Jameson Williams pick after Saints traded above Detroit

·4 min read

For NFL draft nerds everywhere — our people — there's not too much better than the team-produced "war room" videos that are released in the days and weeks following the big event.

We get to go behind the scenes, where the majority of us have never been before, and see how the action unfolds in real time.

The stress. The excitement. The trade calls to other teams. The backs and forths. Who is in the room? Who isn't? All of the above.

Of course, there are some things we don't see. These are heavily edited pieces, we must remember. But even in their incomplete form, these videos can offer revealing glimpses into how the sausage is really made — and how it sometimes breaks out of its casings.

Or almost does.

The Detroit Lions' behind-the-scenes draft series is among the best of any individual teams' productions, and their finale that just dropped showed how the Lions' brass sweated out the final moments prior to making arguably their biggest splash of the 2022 NFL draft.

True enough, Aidan Hutchinson was the crown jewel of their crop at No. 2 overall, the local star staying home to be a franchise pillar. Yet, the Lions' second pick, trading up for Alabama wideout Jameson Williams, might be their class' Hope Diamond.

It was by far the more unexpected and exciting move of the two, and it required a bold trade up 20 picks, engineered by Lions general manager Brad Holmes and company.

There was a brief moment they thought the trade and subsequent pick were going to be blown up.

Here's the entire video:

'New Orleans is on the clock'

In the final installment of the "Inside the Den 2022" series, we see the first round unfold in dramatic fashion.

First, there's the matter of whom the Jacksonville Jaguars will make the first overall pick. Once Travon Walker's name is called, the Lions waste no time turning in the call with Hutchinson to Detroit, seemingly a no-brainer.

There's tension released when Walker's name is called, but Holmes noted that he has run through the either-or scenario with the first pick "a thousand times" leading up to the draft. You get the idea they'd have been OK with another pick at No. 2 had Hutchinson gone first.

Still, they're happy. After the brief celebration of the Hutch pick, Holmes makes it known that "now the real work starts."

And the work appeared to have singular focus: finding a way to trade some of the Lions' surplus picks to land Williams.

Several calls and scenarios are played out. It's clear that the Lions have a deal with the division rival Minnesota Vikings to move up to No. 12 — if Williams is still available.

Holmes calls new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. It appears they've previously agreed to the framework of the deal; Holmes wants to know if that offer still stands. It might have occurred just after the 10th overall pick (Garrett Wilson to the New York Jets) was turned in.

Adofo-Mensah is good. Holmes is good. There's still the matter of what the Washington Commanders will do at No. 11.

Someone shouts out: "Washington is trading its pick. New Orleans is on the clock."

Before the Detroit Lions traded up for Alabama WR Jameson Williams, they had to sweat out a trade right before them. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
Before the Detroit Lions traded up for Alabama WR Jameson Williams, they had to sweat out a trade right before them. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

This is potentially a devastating development. The Saints need a receiver. The room knows it's hold-onto-your-tail time.

Head coach Dan Campbell reacts to the news by going into a squat and gritting his teeth like someone dumped out his Starbucks cup before he was done with it.

Several agonizing minutes later, the Saints pick a wide receiver ... Ohio State's Chris Olave. Coincidentally, he was Williams' former Buckeyes teammate before he transferred.

The room erupts. Holmes slams the table three times with excitement. Campbell is geeked again, hopping around and pumping his fist.

The Lions now can execute their bold trade and get their speed receiver.

The most excited person to react to the news isn't even in the draft room at first. After we hear a breakdown of Williams from Holmes and some of the team's scouts and coaches, the video cuts to Lions WRs coach Antwaan Randle El as he opens the war room door, pokes his head in and shouts out (something approximating): "Wooooohoooo!"

Then Randle El shouts out a few more indecipherable chants and is dapped up by Holmes. "We got a little juice for you, man!" Holmes said to the receivers coach.

Williams appears to be someone Lions fans will have to be patient with. The ACL injury he suffered in the national title game is likely to prevent Williams from suiting up for the start of training camp, Campbell said Thursday.

But it's clear from the reaction in their draft series that the Lions will wait patiently for whenever their prized pick is ready to go.

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