The Detroit Lions Ready to Roar in Upcoming NFL Draft

(Photo: Detroit Lions safety C.J. Moore (38) during a NFL game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, January 8, 2023 in Green Bay, WI. Photo credit: Jeff Nguyen/Detroit Lions)

The 2023 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, and the 32 NFL teams are ready for the annual spring ritual of selecting collegiate gridiron talent to improve their squads for the upcoming season and beyond.  The Detroit Lions and their fans may be at the top of the excitement list when the three-day draft begins on Thursday, April 27, in Kansas City, MO.   The 2024 NFL Draft will be held in Detroit next April. 

The Lions have nine picks in the 2023 draft:  Round 1, Pick 6 (from L.A. Rams) and 18; Round 2, Pick 48 and 55 (from Minnesota); Round 3, Pick 81; Round 5, Pick 152 and 159 (from Atlanta); and Round 6, Pick 183 (from Denver) and 194.

Some believe the Lions should take the best QB available at 6, even though quarterback Jared Goff played well in the team’s remarkable turnaround after a dismal 1 and 6 start to finish the season 8 and 2.  The Lions need depth at quarterback, and drafting a talented QB could be the answer.  Yet, confirmed reports have surfaced recently that the Lions have offered a strong contract to veteran signal-caller Teddy Bridgewater to be the No. 2 QB next season.  If Bridgewater signs the contract before the NFL Draft, Detroit’s plans to select a quarterback at Pick 6 could be altered.

If the Lions stay at 6 in the first round, they probably don’t have a shot at Bryce Young (Alabama) or C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), the best two QBs in the draft.   One of the quarterbacks will likely be the overall  No.1 pick for the Carolina Panthers, with the other going No.2 to the Houston Texans.   

QB Will Levis (Kentucky) could be drafted before the Lions’ pick at six unless a deal is brokered to move up a few slots.  However, would quarterbacks Anthony Richardson (Florida), Herndon Hooker (Tennessee), or Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA) look good in “Honolulu Blue” at 6?

While teams have their dream list of players to select, things can change when a player drops in the draft or is selected earlier than projected.

“I would say this, man. And I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I love Goff, we love Goff, and he is our quarterback,” Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell said in a recent interview with FanNation/Sports Illustrated.  “Nothing’s going to change that. But we’re always looking to upgrade the roster at any position. If the right guy presents himself at one of our picks, and we feel like it’s the right thing to do, we’ll do it. So, we’re keeping all our options open.”

Suppose the Lions don’t pick a QB with their sixth selection.  In that case, some credible mock drafts have Detroit selecting Jalen Carter (Georgia), the 6’ 3”, 314-pound  powerhouse, who many consider the best Defensive Lineman in the draft.  Christian Gonzalez, the talented cornerback from Oregon, and CB Devon Witherspoon (Illinois) have also been mentioned by draft pundits as possibilities of going at 6 to the Lions.   And Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech), the 6’ 6”, 271-pound edge-rusher would add impactful depth to Detroit’s defense.    

At Pick 18 in the First Round, some pro football analysts have Detroit going wide to grab wide receiver, Quentin Johnston.  Detroit could also choose to run at Pick 18 and track down running back Bijan Robinson (Texas) – if available.  Robinson masterfully blends quickness, speed, power, aggressiveness, and acute vision to see holes in the defense and run for paydirt.  

If the defense side of the ball is on Detroit’s radar at 18, Adetomiwa Adebawore, the DT from Northwestern, could fit the bill with his strong mindset and abilities to stop opponents’ run game and chase down quarterbacks.   

There are many players the Lions could target after the first round, including Brian Branch (Alabama), touted as one of the best tackling defensive backs in college.  He can play corner and safety.  DJ Dale, the  D-lineman from Alabama, would also be a great addition to the Lions.  At 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, Dale is stellar at stopping the run and loves beating offensive linemen with his quickness and fundamentally sound blocking skills.    

Last season the Lions’ secondary ranked near the bottom, although it improved in the latter part of the season.  However, with excellent free agent signings this offseason, the Lions’ secondary will be incredibly better with C.J. Gardner-Johnson (safety) from the Philadelphia Eagles, Emmanuel Moseley (cornerback) from the San Francisco 49ers, and Cam Sutton (cornerback) from the Pittsburgh Steelers.   The Lions also re-signed C.J. Moore (safety) and Will Harris (cornerback) to one-year deals.

Detroit’s general manager Brad Holmes deserves much of the credit for his shrewd free-agent signings and draft picks the last two years, adding “good starters and needed depth” to the team, something winning NFL squads must have for a successful season and deep playoff run.  In a recent power ranking of the NFL’s 32 general managers, Holmes was picked as the seventh best by colleagues and NFL pundits.

“I’d give him an A – a solid A,” veteran ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said recently about Holmes.  “You could go A-plus.  Holmes has built the Lions into a competitive team in just two years with many of his draft picks making an impact.”

“We’re just going to take the best football player for us,” Holmes said at a press conference at the NFL Owners’ Annual League Meetings in late March.  “With everything that we’ve done at free agency, I think we’re in a better position to really just sit and take the best player available at the draft and just kind of add the right fit.”




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