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The first wave of the free-agency period is pretty much in the books, and many have shifted their focus back to the 2023 NFL Draft. As you have probably heard by now, the Detroit Lions currently hold the No. 6 and No. 18 overall picks in the first round, and five total selections within the Top 81 picks in the draft. Despite bolstering their secondary via free agency, it would not be surprising at all to see the Lions select a cornerback with one of their early picks. According to ESPN, there are three cornerbacks in the upcoming NFL Draft who would fit perfectly with the Lions. Those players are Devon Witherspoon, Emmanuel Forbes, and Cam Smith.
- The Detroit Lions currently hold the No. 6 and No. 18 overall picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, and they have five total selections within the Top 81 picks in the draft.
- The Lions addressed their weakness in the cornerback position by landing a trio of free-agent cornerbacks, including Cam Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson, but only Sutton is signed with the team past the upcoming 2023 season.
- ESPN's Matt Miller named Devon Witherspoon, Emmanuel Forbes, and Cam Smith as the three cornerbacks who would fit perfectly with the Lions in the upcoming NFL Draft.
- Scouts believe that Witherspoon has the potential to be a top-10 pick and is a smaller cornerback who is super physical, loves to hit, and is always around the ball.
- Emmanuel Forbes has great hands and instincts but weighs just 166 pounds, which may be a concern for some NFL teams. Cam Smith is considered a safe pick in Round 2 due to his solid coverage skills, technique, and timing.
Why it Matters for the Detroit Lions
Heading into the offseason, the cornerback position was arguably the Lions' biggest weakness, and rather than waiting for the NFL Draft to address their needs, they decided to attack the free-agency period. In fact, the Lions ended up landing a trio of free-agent cornerbacks, including Cam Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who can also play safety. But, out of those three players, only Sutton is signed with the team past the upcoming 2023 season. Because of that, the Lions could look to add another cornerback in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft.
Detroit Lions named as ‘best fit' for 3 Cornerbacks
On Monday, Matt Miller of ESPN released a list titled “NFL draft cornerback class: Scouts help rank top 11, comps, team fits,” and the Lions made the cut for the following three cornerbacks: (Comments about each player via Matt Miller and the NFL Scouts he spoke with)
Devon Witherspoon – Illinois
Witherspoon entered the 2022 season as a solid cornerback prospect and I had him as the No. 35 prospect in September. But he's suddenly in contention to be the first cornerback off the board. There is some debate about his size (6-foot, 181 pounds) and scheme fit, but scouts love his coverage instincts, quick feet and toughness. And many of the scouts I spoke with believe he's destined to be a top-10 pick.
“I love the way he plays,” said one AFC college scouting director. “For a smaller cornerback, he's super physical, loves to hit and is always around the ball.”
“He's better than a lot of the guys in recent years, maybe outside of Sauce [Gardner] and Pat Surtain II,” said an AFC general manager. “He's good. I think he'll be a top-10 cornerback early in his career.”
Emmanuel Forbes – Mississippi State
It's hard to ignore the numbers when it comes to Forbes. He recorded 14 career interceptions — including six in 2022 alone — and broke up 18 passes over three years. But at 6-1, he also weighed in at just 166 pounds at the combine. In fact, Forbes is the lightest cornerback weighed at the combine since 2000, and NFL teams don't love outliers on the bottom of the spectrum.
One NFL GM said, “If Forbes weighed over 190 pounds, I think we're talking about the top cornerback in the class.”
“He has great hands and instincts, but I don't know what you do with someone that small,” said an NFL defensive backs coach.
Cam Smith – South Carolina
Smith was another potential first-rounder headed into the season but has seen his stock settle into the early parts of Round 2.
“Smith is one of the safest Round 2 players in the class,” said an AFC scout. “He's not going to wow you with size or speed — although they're good — but he's just really solid in coverage.”
Another scout added: “You can tell he's been coached right. He does all the little things well in terms of timing and technique. He's limited athletically, but he'll play a long-ass time.”
Bottom Line: Lions Could Eye Cornerback in Early Rounds of 2023 NFL Draft
The Detroit Lions have been busy during the free-agency period, but despite adding several cornerbacks to their roster, they still have a need for the position heading into the 2023 NFL Draft. ESPN's Matt Miller suggests that the Lions could target one of three cornerbacks in the draft, including Devon Witherspoon, Emmanuel Forbes, and Cam Smith. Witherspoon is considered a potential top-10 pick due to his coverage instincts and toughness, while Forbes has impressive interception numbers but is undersized. Smith is seen as a solid and safe option for the early part of Round 2. Adding another cornerback in the draft could help the Lions address their biggest weakness and build a strong secondary for the future.Visit Gear Up Detroit for more hot swag