The Detroit Lions have found themselves in a promising position as they approach the NFL Draft, following their first winning season since 2017. Quarterback Jared Goff led the team to an impressive eight victories in the last ten games, filling the team and fans with hope for the future. Detroit’s draft strategy, led by General Manager Brad Holmes, will be crucial for sustaining this newfound momentum.
With the No. 6 and No. 18 overall picks, two second-round slots, and five additional selections, Holmes has an abundance of options at his disposal. “You definitely want to take advantage of having this kind of capital,” Holmes said. As the Lions aim to shake off their past struggles, they will need to make strategic decisions in this year’s draft.
A History of Solid Picks
Brad Holmes has garnered a reputation for making solid draft selections since joining the Detroit Lions. His initial success came from drafting offensive tackle Penei Sewell and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, both of whom have become integral parts of the team. Holmes continued to impress with his subsequent draft choices, selecting defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, as well as linebackers Malcolm Rodriguez and James Houston, who have all made valuable contributions on the field. These strategic choices have helped to reshape the Lions’ roster and instill a sense of optimism among fans and players alike.
Holmes’ ability to recognize talent has been praised by his colleagues and the players he has drafted. His keen eye for potential has played a significant role in the franchise’s turnaround, with many crediting him for the team’s improved performance Holmes has demonstrated an uncanny ability to identify talent, with St. Brown acknowledging, “Brad has that eye.”
The Lions’ draft strategy this year is characterized by flexibility, as they hold picks in both the first and second rounds from the Los Angeles Rams and the Minnesota Vikings. This wealth of draft capital affords Holmes the opportunity to either select a variety of players to fill gaps in the roster or package some of the picks in a trade to move up and secure a specific target. With a multitude of possibilities at his fingertips, Holmes must carefully consider his options and craft a strategy that best positions the Lions for long-term success.
This approach to the draft will require Holmes to strike a delicate balance between addressing immediate needs and securing valuable prospects for the future. While filling current gaps in the roster is essential, the Lions must also remain mindful of the bigger picture, ensuring they have a pipeline of talent that can continue to develop and contribute to the team’s long-term success. Holmes’ ability to navigate this challenging landscape will be crucial to the Lions’ ongoing growth and development.
One of the most intriguing possibilities for the Lions in the upcoming draft is the prospect of trading up to select Alabama star Will Anderson Jr. If Holmes decides to make this bold move, Anderson could join forces with defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, creating a formidable pass-rushing duo. Such a pairing would give defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn unparalleled flexibility in designing schemes to apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks.
Anderson’s addition would not only complement Hutchinson’s skills but also provide the Lions with a strategic advantage in a division filled with young quarterbacks. The ability to pressure these quarterbacks from both edges would be invaluable to the team’s defensive success. Holmes must carefully weigh the potential benefits of making a move for Anderson against the cost of trading up, as this decision could significantly impact the team’s future.
The Lions’ most pressing need is at the defensive tackle position, making Georgia standout Jalen Carter an attractive option if his character is deemed satisfactory. Following meetings with the team, Holmes indicated that he felt more confident about Carter, but whether this is a genuine endorsement or a strategic smokescreen remains to be seen. Regardless, the defensive tackle position must be addressed for the Detroit Lions to continue their upward trajectory.
Another area of concern is the wide receiver position, especially in light of Jameson Williams’ suspension. While the existing wide receiver corps can manage in Williams’ absence, the Lions may want to consider drafting a wide receiver earlier than initially planned. Candidates like Jalin Hyatt, Cedric Tillman, Jonathan Mingo, and Rashee Rice could provide valuable depth and help bolster the team’s passing attack during Williams’ suspension.
Positions of Strength
The Lions may look to further bolster their tight end position. While the current group of tight ends has set a franchise record for touchdowns, the addition of a more dynamic player could further elevate the team’s offensive capabilities. Nonetheless, it seems that the coaching staff is confident in the current roster, particularly with the anticipated increased role of James Mitchell, who is now recovered fully from a knee injury.
Another position of strength for the Lions is the offensive line, anchored by Pro Bowlers Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker. However, considering their age, contract, and injury concerns, adding depth to the offensive line may be a wise move. The 2023 draft class offers a deep pool of offensive linemen who can provide value at multiple positions, potentially strengthening the Lions’ most formidable unit even further.
Prospects like Peter Skoronski and Darnell Wright, both listed as offensive tackles, showcase the athleticism and skill required to slide over to guard positions if needed. Additionally, guards O’Cyrus Torrence and Cody Mauch are expected to be selected by the end of the second round, with their strength and athleticism poised to make a significant impact in the run game and play-action pass game to support the Lions offense. Mauch, a former tight end when he arrived at North Dakota State, is thought to be capable of playing all five OL positions, adding even more versatility and depth to the Lions’ already strong offensive line.
While the Lions remain committed to starting quarterback Jared Goff, the idea of drafting a young quarterback to develop behind the veteran has been floated. Nate Sudfeld, the only other quarterback on the roster, has limited experience, prompting speculation about the Detroit Lions pursuing a top prospect like CJ Stroud or Anthony Richardson. Alternatively, they could target a later-round prospect, such as Clayton Tune, Aidan O’Connell, or Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
Selecting a young quarterback not only provides the Lions with a developmental prospect but also gives them leverage in future contract negotiations with Goff. The presence of a promising young quarterback could help the front office negotiate a more favorable extension for Goff, potentially saving millions of dollars per year. As the draft unfolds, the Lions’ strategy regarding the quarterback position will be closely watched, with the first five picks likely to influence their decision-making process.
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
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