While no consensus has emerged on who the Detroit Lions should draft if Aidan Hutchinson is off the board, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said in a video conference Wednesday the second pick is too high for the Lions to consider taking a quarterback.

“I would say no on the quarterback, because the quarterbacks for me, you go by your rankings are 18, 19, 21, 28, so if you’re picking in the top 10 it’s way too rich for me,” Kiper said. 

Kiper, who gave Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton to the Lions in his latest mock draft, ranks Liberty’s Malik Willis as his No. 1 quarterback prospect, followed by Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder.

Liberty's Malik Willis throws the ball during the first half of the LendingTree Bowl against Eastern Michigan on December 18, 2021 in Mobile, Alabama.

He projects Willis, Pickett and Corral to go in Round 1, with the New Orleans Saints taking the first quarterback (Pickett) at No. 18.

“I just talked to some of my friends in the league who don’t need quarterbacks, but they don’t have quarterbacks ranked in the top 10, either,” Kiper said. “But it only takes, obviously, the teams that need quarterbacks to believe that.”

Willis, who the Lions coached at the Senior Bowl, is the only quarterback potentially worthy of a top-10 pick, Kiper said, because of his upside.

An Auburn transfer, Willis threw for 2,857 yards and 27 touchdowns and had another 878 yards rushing with 13 TDs last season.

He had nearly 3,200 total yards in 10 games and accounted for 34 touchdowns as a junior, but was a 62% passer in his Liberty career and threw 12 interceptions last season while playing mostly against low-level FBS competition.

Willis earns high marks from scouts for his leadership traits and personality and he played well for the Lions at the Senior Bowl, but is considered a year away from starting.

It makes more sense than ever for Detroit Lions to go young at QB ]

“Is eight (to the Atlanta Falcons) too high for Malik Willis after (his pro day) and after the way he —  obviously he interviews unbelievable,” Kiper said. “He’s got the rocket arm. I compared him (on Tuesday) to, he’s kind of a right-handed version of Michael Vick in a lot of ways, so I could see that. I could definitely see Carolina at six, Atlanta at eight, Seattle at nine taking Malik Willis.

Liberty quarterback Malik Willis talks with Detroit Lions assistant Mark Brunell during practice for the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. on Feb. 1, 2022.

“He would be the one because you’re rolling the dice on talent, you’re betting on the talent and that’s what’s happened with Josh Allen, with Justin Herbert, talent has won out. They weren’t the first quarterbacks taken. Allen was the third (in the 2018 draft), Justin Herbert was the third (in 2020) and they’ve been better than the guys, a lot better than the guys that went ahead of them because of talent. They were a little raw, but they had great talent. Same thing with Malik, so I could see that happening.”