As the excitement surrounding the 2023 NFL Draft mounts, Lions fans eagerly craft their own wishlists, much like children penning letters to Santa before Christmas.
In this article, we’ve conjured up a lineup of potential stars one can only hope will be available for the Detroit Lions at their 6th, 18th, 48th, 55th, and 81st overall selections. While it’s a long shot that all these talents will be up for grabs at these specific spots, each one could significantly elevate the team. So, let’s indulge our inner child, unwrap these gifted prospects, and fantasize about a prosperous future for the Lions.
A Sensational 6th Pick: Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama
A consensus favorite, Will Anderson, would be a dream pick for the Lions at number 6. With a 6-foot-3, 253-pound frame, Anderson demonstrates exceptional speed-to-power conversion off the edge. Pairing him with Aidan Hutchinson could create a formidable duo, wreaking havoc on opposing offenses and providing formation flexibility unlike anything we’ve seen before in Detroit.
In addition to his physical attributes, Anderson has shown a relentless work ethic, impressive football intelligence, and a commitment to improving his game. He has the potential to become an elite pass rusher in the NFL, and his addition to the Lions’ defense would make an immediate impact. What wouldn’t the Lions want in this kid? The only way to get him may be through a trade for the Number 2 or Number 3 overall pick.
Alternative Option: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
If Anderson is off the board, Devon Witherspoon, a physical cornerback from Illinois, would be a solid choice. Though somewhat light at 181 pounds, Witherspoon’s aggressive play and ball skills could make him a valuable asset for the Lions’ secondary. Brad Holmes has solidified the Lions secondary through key free agent signings, however, many of the projected starters are all on one year contracts. Witherspoon could solidify the top DB spot on the depth chart for the next 5 years.
Witherspoon has displayed great instincts in coverage and a willingness to take on challenging matchups. His quick feet and fluid hips enable him to mirror receivers effectively, and his experience in man and zone coverage schemes make him an adaptable option for the Lions’ defense.
A Royal Rush at 18: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
At number 18, the Lions could potentially land top running back prospect Bijan Robinson from Texas. His ability to break free, shake off defenders, and catch passes with ease would make him a powerful weapon for the Lions’ offense. Of course, being a running back has brought down his “positional value.” However, if you consider Robinson an “offensive weapon,” selecting him at number 18 is a no-brainer.
Robinson’s vision and patience as a runner allow him to exploit gaps in the defense. His balance and change-of-direction skills make him difficult to bring down in open space. He would bring an immediate boost to the Lions’ rushing attack, providing a dynamic option in both the run and pass game.
Alternative Option: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
If a running back isn’t the priority, Calijah Kancey, an undersized yet incredibly athletic defensive tackle, would be a valuable addition to the team. Despite his short arm length and lighter frame, Kancey’s athleticism could make him a disruptive force on the field.
Kancey’s quickness off the snap and relentless motor make him a menace for opposing offensive lines. His ability to penetrate gaps and disrupt plays in the backfield would be a welcome addition to the Lions’ defensive front, and his upside as a pass rusher offers an enticing prospect for the team to develop.
A Formidable 48th Pick: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
With the 48th pick, the Lions could potentially select Jalin Hyatt, a wide receiver from Tennessee. Known for his exceptional speed and ability to stretch the field, Hyatt would be an electrifying presence in the Lions’ receiving corps.
Hyatt’s quickness and route-running savvy make him a challenging matchup for opposing defensive backs, and his reliable hands and ball-tracking ability make him a dependable target for Jared Goff. As a versatile weapon capable of lining up in multiple positions, he could quickly become an integral part of the Lions’ passing attack.
Alternative Option: Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State
If a wide receiver isn’t in the cards, the Lions could opt for Cody Mauch, a powerful run-blocking offensive lineman from North Dakota State. Mauch’s toughness and competitive nature could provide depth to the Lions’ offensive line. A a bonus, Mauch has the ability to play all five offensive line positions. Adding this flexibility to the team’s to unit is enticing to the Lions front office.
Mauch is known for his impressive strength and physicality at the point of attack, consistently driving defenders off the ball in the run game. As a pass protector, he demonstrates solid footwork and good hand placement, making him a well-rounded offensive line prospect. His addition would bolster the Lions’ O-line and help create a more consistent pocket for Goff.
A Fortifying 55th Pick: Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami
Tyrique Stevenson, a physically gifted cornerback from Miami, would be a steal at number 55. With his aggressive playstyle and impressive physical attributes, Stevenson could become a valuable addition to the Lions’ secondary.
Stevenson has showcased his ability to excel in both man and zone coverage. He also has a knack for disrupting routes and making plays on the ball. His physicality at the line of scrimmage and willingness to support in run defense make him a well-rounded cornerback prospect with a high ceiling.
Alternative Option: Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
As an alternative, Julius Brents, a tall cornerback with rare length and explosiveness, would provide versatility and depth to the Lions’ secondary. His experience in various coverage schemes and willingness to take on tough assignments make him an attractive prospect.
Brents’ size and physical tools allow him to match up well against larger receivers. His ball skills make him a threat to create turnovers. His ability to contribute on special teams also adds value to his draft stock, making him a worthwhile consideration for the Lions at pick 55.
An Eager 81st Pick: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
Should Hendon Hooker be available at number 81, the Lions could potentially land a promising young quarterback. Despite recovering from an ACL tear, Hooker’s poise, footwork, and mobility make him an intriguing prospect to develop behind Goff.
Hooker has demonstrated excellent decision-making skills and accuracy as a passer. All while also being a threat with his legs when plays break down. His leadership qualities and strong work ethic make him an ideal candidate to develop and potentially become the future face of the Lions’ franchise.
Alternative Option: Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss
If Hooker is off the board, Jonathan Mingo could be a potential fit for the Lions. A 6’2″, 220-pound receiver with solid production in the SEC and exceptional athleticism, Mingo has flown under the radar. Mingo clocked a 4.46 40-yard dash at the combine and has showcased explosive burst in route-running at the Senior Bowl. His film also boasts numerous strong blocking reps, which will undoubtedly contribute to his appeal in Allen Park.
At Ole Miss, Mingo demonstrated his versatility by lining up both in the slot and on the outside. An impressive skill set for a player who could potentially be picked up on Day 3 of the draft. His speed, size, and willingness to block make him a valuable asset for special teams early on in his career. Mingo’s potential to develop into a versatile playmaker could make him an excellent addition to the Lions’ roster.
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
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Photo Credit: © Jerome Miron – USA TODAY Sports