The 2023 Detroit Lions Draft Roundup

The three-day 2023 draft is over, and NFL general managers and head coaches are feeling good about their respective selections.  And the Detroit Lions, with eight draft picks – four in the first two rounds – are feeling several notches above good.  Here is a list of the Lions’ eight draft picks.

After trading its 6th pick and moving down to No. 12 in Round 1, the Detroit Lions drafted Jahmyr Gibbs, a running back from the University of Alabama.  While many NFL draft analysts and pundits felt the pick was too high for a running back in general, no one has questioned the elite and high caliber player the Lions chose to wear Honolulu Blue in the coming season and beyond.

Gibbs is described as an electrifying running back with clever moves and the ability to make tacklers miss.  And Gibbs has been scouted to have “homerun speed,” meaning if defensive players don’t get him on the ground quickly, his shifty moves, vision, desire, and burning speed will get him into the in-zone for touchdown celebrations.  Gibbs has excellent hands and can flat-out catch the ball when he lines up as a slot or wide receiver.  Gibbs will catch plenty of balls coming out of the backfield.  He’s not a power runner that will run over people, but neither was the Lions’ Hall of Famer, Barry Sanders.   

With the team’s 18th pick in Round 1, the Lions selected Jack Campbell, a linebacker from Iowa.  Like Gibbs, many draft analysts felt Campbell went too high in the draft and would have been available to Detroit with its early second-round pick.  Yet, the Lions chose “to get while the getting was good.” In Campbell, the Lions have a big linebacker – almost 6’5” and 250 pounds.  And he is extremely physical.  Campbell is relatively quick and fast, having clocked 4.65 seconds in the Scouting Combine’s 40-yard dash earlier this year.  Whenever Campbell is on the field, the middle defense is expected to be tough.  

Deciding to stay with Iowa football talent, the Lions grabbed Sam LaPorta, a TE from the Big Ten school, with the team’s Pick 34 in the Second Round.  LaPorta is expected to contribute immediately.  At 6”3’’ and 240 pounds, he won’t be among the biggest tight ends in the NFL, but the Lions evaluated and scouted him to play a lot bigger and stronger than opponents think.  LaPorta can catch contested balls, beat defensive backs, and is willing and able to block superbly when called upon.

With another Round 2 pick, Detroit went back to Alabama with the 45th pick to snag defensive back Brian Branch.  Many draft analysts and NFL scouts believe Branch was in the top tier of defensive backs drafted.  In Branch, the Lions have a relentless AP All-American ball hawk, who is versatile and can impactfully play safety, cornerback, or anywhere in the secondary, something he did over and over at Alabama in college football’s most dominating conference.    

In Round 3, Pick 68, the Lions drafted QB Hendon Hooker from Tennessee.  Many draft pundits believe  Hooker would have gone in the first round had he not been rehabbing an ACL injury in late 2022.  Subsequently, his stock dropped.  Yet, the Lions, after some shrewd wheeling and dealing, grabbed Hooker.  His upside is undeniable.  He is 6-foot-3, 217 pounds, and a smooth passer with deep ball power and accuracy.  He can extend plays with his athleticism and scrambling abilities.  This upcoming season, the Lions’ top priority for Hooker is to get healthy.  Perhaps he may see some action as a backup to Jared Goff in the second half of the season if the rookie is physically ready.  If not, look for him to get a strong shot at competing for Detroit’s starting QB in 2024.

At Pick 96, the Lions chose defensive tackle Brodric Martin from Western Kentucky in Round 3.  One thing that you immediately notice about Martin is his size; he is 6’ 5” and 330 pounds.  He will be a load for offensive linemen to handle because he has the strength, ability, and tenacity to shove blockers aside while pursuing whoever is trying to advance the football.   There will be times when Martin, who plays both defensive tackle and defensive end, will demand a double-team, which will open options for fellow defensive players.  

In Round 5, with the 152nd pick, the Lions grabbed OL Colby Sorsdal from William and Mary.  An All-American First Team player, Sorsdal is 6-foot-5, 304 pounds with innate toughness.  He will add depth to the Lions’ offensive line.  

In Round 7, Antoine Green was selected at Pick 219 overall out of the University of North Carolina.  Green is 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, and built a reputation at UNC as a consistent deep-ball threat.  The Lions are hoping he will bring that same big-play reputation to Detroit.

“Every single pick we have we are excited about,” Lions general manager Brad Holmes said at a post-draft press conference.  “At the end of the day, we acquire these players for a lot of different reasons.  But ultimately, we are trying to win games.  I know a lot will be said about acquiring a running back in the first round.  However, we didn’t acquire a running back…we acquired an elite weapon to keep our offense explosive.”


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