The 2023 NFL Draft is quickly approaching. In just over a week, the first round will open on Thursday, April 27 at 8 p.m. EST. The Detroit Lions boast a handful of picks throughout the draft. The team owns nine picks, including two first-round picks and two second-round picks. All four of those fall within the top 55 selections.
Lions GM Brad Holmes made the most of free agency this offseason. Detroit brought in free agents who fill a lot of holes on the team’s roster. Detroit’s offense is set to reload for another successful season, and its defense undertook a major overhaul, especially in the secondary.
Holmes’ activity on the free agent market placed the Lions in a position to take the best player available with nearly all of their picks in this year’s draft. The only major position of need remaining is interior defensive line. It is very likely Holmes and the Lions’ front office address this need with one of the team’s four top 60 picks.
Detroit has the opportunity to round out its roster with high-end talent with its first four selections. The team will enter the 2023 season with playoff aspirations. A well-rounded draft class could boost those expectations to a potential deep run in the playoffs.
However, some missed picks could limit the ceiling of this team next season. There are plenty of prospects with high upside early in this year’s draft. Cornerback and edge rusher are particularly deep position groups this year.
However, not every player, even those with NFL talent, is a good fit for the Lions. Whether it is scheme reliability, a lack of high-quality tape or any number of other variables, there are numerous players the Detroit Lions should avoid in the 2023 NFL Draft. Here are three of them.
Emmanuel Forbes, Cornerback, Mississippi State
There is plenty of talent at cornerback in this year’s class. Devon Witherspoon and Christian Gonzalez stand out as potential top-10 picks. Joey Porter Jr. and Deonte Banks are likely to land somewhere in the teens. In the late first through the second round, Tyrique Stevenson, Cam Smith and Julius Brents will hear their names called.
One cornerback the Lions need to steer clear of is Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes. The 21-year-old Forbes possesses good NFL traits. He offers a combination of speed and acceleration that make it difficult to beat him over the top. Forbes has the burst to change direction and attack downhill on breaking routes. He has good ball skills and length.
However, Forbes is severely undersized for the position. He stands at 6-1, a good height for a corner, but he weighs in at only 166 pounds. His frame makes him a very scheme-dependent player. He cannot consistently play in man coverage, especially press man. Receivers will throw him around if he tries to match them in man coverage. In run defense, he will get thrown out the sideline.
Forbes’ best role is in a Fangio-style defense. He needs to fit into an off-man, quarters-heavy coverage scheme. He needs to play in space to reach his full potential. In an off-man role, Forbes can utilize his speed and change of direction to be more effective in the run game. In off-coverage, he can make the best use of his good anticipation to protect deep zones but also jump breaking routes.
Only about nine teams can offer Forbes a role like that. The Detroit Lions are not one of them.
Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson
The Lions could use another high-end talent off the edge. A talent like Will Anderson Jr. could start opposite Aiden Hutchinson and shift James Houston into a rotational role, where he may be better-suited long-term. Second-round guys like Andre Carter II or Isaiah Foskey could fill rotational roles while Houston fills the starter role.
Clemson’s Myles Murphy is an interesting prospect in this year’s class. He 21-year-old has good size at 6-5 and 268 pounds. He projects to be a good power rusher, and his athletic traits are some of the best in the class. However, Murphy’s production on tape does not reflect the athletic talent he possesses.
Murphy racked up six sacks in 2022 and tallied 21 hurries. His tape from this past season simply did not jump off the screen for someone projected as a first-round pick. Maybe injuries limited him in the 2022 season, or maybe he just took a step back, but what he showed on film was not particularly impressive.
Murphy’s 2021 tape shows a different player. He consistently made use of his athletic tools to beat offensive linemen and get to the quarterback.
Which Murphy will the NFL receive? That is the question teams have to ask before drafting him. His 2022 tape showed a player who allowed opposing linemen to get leverage on him early. He showed an ability to get into the backfield on run plays, but he struggled to make the play in those situations.
Murphy has a lot of upside, but in the first round, especially at pick 18, the Lions can find better talent with more upside and a higher floor. Murphy makes more sense in the mid-to-late 20s of the first round, possibly even the early second.
Hendon Hooker, Quarterback, Tennessee
The Detroit Lions are in a solid position as far as the quarterback position is concerned. Jared Goff enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2022 and has two years left on his current contract. The team brought back last year’s backup in Nate Sudfeld, and veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater reportedly has an offer on the table from Detroit. If Detroit decided to draft a quarterback in the NFL Draft, it would make sense to target a young prospect with high-end athletic tools and arm talent.
That does not describe Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker.
Hooker is already 25, not exactly a young developmental quarterback. He will be 27 when Goff’s contract is up. Age is not a glaring factor in Hooker’s grade as a prospect. However, the Detroit Lions already have an established quarterback in place. If they bring in a rookie, it makes the most sense for them to be in their early 20s where the team has more time to develop them while Goff finishes out his time in the Motor City.
Hooker does not possess elite traits. The 25-year-old has good mobility and an above-average arm, but neither particularly jumps off the page. He will be a good runner but not an elite one. He will be a solid thrower but likely not much more than a middle-of-the-pack guy.
His offense at Tennessee was nowhere near pro-style. He ran an offense that easily schemed receivers open and asked him to go through very few progressions. He will not have that at the NFL level. That is not to say Hooker cannot read NFL defenses and make his way through professions, but Tennessee placed him behind the eight-ball in that regard.
Hooker has starter potential at the NFL level. However, his ceiling does not project to be anything above what Goff already provides. Hooker has received some projections as a late first or even second-round guy in expert mock drafts. It makes zero sense for the Lions to take a swing on him that early.
For more from the author, Thomas Chavez, check him out on Twitter here: @tlchavez43
Featured Image Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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