Detroit Lions General Manager Brad Holmes has many tough decisions to make this off season. Among those decisions is the 2023 NFL Draft. Holmes was hired in January 2021, just months before the 2021 NFL Draft. Since his tenure began, he has shown that he can turn this franchise around, and that he will. One of the very first moves he made as GM was trading QB Matthew Stafford to the LA Rams in exchange for QB Jared Goff and two future first round picks.
The two future firsts were for the 2022 NFL Draft and the 2023 NFL Draft. The pick that was given to the Lions for last year’s draft was eventually used to draft WR Jameson Williams, who should be a playmaker for years to come. However, the challenge that lies ahead for Brad Holmes is what to do with the two first rounders we have this year. There are many options, and many needs to be filled on this team. With the drafting history of Holmes, there is a high expectation to make the correct picks.
The Detroit Lions. The team that stole our hearts this season and made us believe again. Although there is improvement and talent, there is still many positions the lions need in order to be a competitive team in the future.
The biggest needs on this team mainly lie on the defensive side of the ball.
CB/S- The Lions have improved safety play with the way Kerby Joseph was playing all season long. Tracy Walker was injured early in the season, and that’s always hard for a team to lose a starter at any position. Lions should highly consider drafting a Safety in the later rounds, but there are definitely bigger needs on this team. Cornerback play on the Lions this season was very inconsistent and shaky.
Although 3rd year CB Jeff Okudah started off strong, he was limited does the stretch due to injury as well. Other than Okudah, the Lions corner depth is very depleted. Amani Oruwariye, who had an outstanding 2021 season, regressed heavily. 2nd year CB Jerry Jacobs was very solid all season long, but again was not always available due to injury. Most draft experts and fans are expecting the Lions to draft a CB, preferably early. It would be an advantage to have Okudah and a young, promising draft prospect to start the season.
Linebacker is a position the Lions have struggled with for many years now. The lions absolutely must draft a LB to help in pass coverage and tackling. Holmes found a couple of gems in last year’s draft, selecting LBs Malcolm Rodriguez and James Houston in the 6th round. “Rodrigo” had a rookie year consisting of 87 tackles and 1 sack. James Houston missed the first 11 games of the season and still managed to finish with 8 sacks. Those numbers from a 6th rounder are almost unbelievable. Alex Anzalone led the team in tackles this season with 125, but was horrible in pass coverage. Expect the Lions to draft a young playmaking LB to compliment what we have built already.
TE- The Lions traded TE TJ Hockenson mid 2022 season to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for a 2023 2nd and a 2024 3rd. In what seemed like a surprise move, it left the team in a need of a true TE1. TEs Shane Zylstra and Brock Wright did manage to have very solid seasons. However, this team can win despite bad TE play. If the Lions decide to look for another offensive weapon, Tight end should be the main focus. Having a true TE1 could take focus off the other weapons the lions have.
The Detroit Lions 6th pick
The Lions acquired the 6th overall selection in the 2023 draft from the Rams in the Stafford trade. The Rams finished this season 5-12, putting the Lions in position to take a top defensive player at 6th overall.
CB Kelee Ringo Georgia
DE Myles Murphy Clemson
DE Bryan Bresee Clemson
LB Will Anderson
Ringo makes the most sense with this pick. CB is the teams biggest need, and Ringo is a physical athletic freak. He enters the draft at 6’2 205 pounds and would be the perfect compliment alongside a healthy Okudah. His ceiling is extremely high, and in college he totaled 76 tackles and 4 interceptions in 2 seasons. Ringo is the best corner in this draft, and immediately makes Detroit’s secondary better.
Defensive ends Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy are also valid options with the 6th pick. Drafting Aidan Hutchinson last season boosted the defensive front, but adding either of these guys would solidify it. Murphy totaled 40 tackles and 6.5 sacks this past season, while Bresee had 3.5 sacks.
Will Anderson is a top 3 prospect on the board in the 2023 draft. He is projected to go way before the Lions pick, but if he somehow falls to us, this is a no brainer. He is the type of player to completely change the outlook of a franchise. Von Miller esque.
There is also a slight chance that a top QB prospect is available-It has been a debate for many seasons on on if the Lions
should draft a rookie QB. On the slight chance that one is available this draft, Lions should pass. Goff has been playing like a top 5 QB and there’s no reason why we should draft a QB knowing how improved our defense could be.
The Detroit Lions 18th pick
The 18th pick is the Lions pick after we went 9-8 in the regular season. Defense should still be the priority, but offense could be an option this late in the first round.
TE Michael Mayer-Notre Dame
CB Christian Gonzalez-Oregon
CB Joey Porter Jr.- Penn State
Tight end Michael Mayer is an offensive force. I imagine the lions taking him into consideration with this pick due to the fact our TE room could be vastly improved. Given the Lions draft history with TEs, fans may not like a TE here. However, Mayer gives Goff a huge boost. He is a vertical threat, runs great routes for a player off his size, and can aid in run blocking. Those 3 abilities alone are the reason the Lions should strongly consider selecting Mayer.
CB Christian Gonzalez is a phenomenal prospect. The Lions should only consider drafting a corner with this pick if they decide to pass on a corner at 6th overall. If they do, Gonzalez is a remarkable athlete. He had 4 interceptions and 7 pass deflections. Over time, QBs stopped throwing his way because he was on lock. He’s 6’2 and can line up across from anyone, he shows no fear or uncertainty. He tackles any challenge he gets. The Lions need a player like that for on the field production and off the field personality.
CB Joey porter Jr. is also a fantastic corner prospect. If lions pass on a CB at 6, it will be a hard decision to select between these two. Although they play so different, they both produce results and would be a puzzle fit into this secondary. Porter could be developing into a safety as well. He is also 6’2 and had no picks, Burt showed elite coverage ability and the ability to be a leader.
Brad Holmes has a lot of studying to do, This will be another impactful draft for this franchise, and this class will help in taking the Lions back to the playoffs. Brad Holmes is responsible for this Lions resurgence, and has proven to be a good evaluator of talent. Talent such as Penei Sewell, Aidan Hutchinson, Kerby Joseph, and Malcolm Rodriguez. The fans in Detroit now have something to be excited about, and this draft is no different. In Brad, we trust.
Photo Credit:Syndication: Detroit Free Press