The bright lights of Ford Field set the stage for a memorable debut of the 2023 NFL preseason. The Detroit Lions hosted the N.Y. Giants, and as the final whistle blew on a 21-16 victory for the Motor City, eyes turned toward the remarkable performance of the Lions' new generation.
Detroit Lions' 2023 Rookie Evaluation: Game Highlights and Key Performances
Linebacker Jack Campbell and undrafted wide receiver Chase Cota led the way in a game that offered tantalizing glimpses of what could be a transformative rookie class for the Lions. From Campbell's confident tackles to Cota's unexpected standout plays, it was a performance that will undoubtedly spark conversation across the league.
Linebacker Insight: Detroit Lions' 2023 Rookie Evaluation of Jack Campbell
The No. 18 overall pick in this year's draft, Campbell demonstrated poise and a natural ability to disrupt the Giants' offense. His four total tackles and pass defense were more than just numbers on a sheet; they were a statement of intent, amplified by a solid presence on back-to-back stops to open up the second quarter.
I feel like today I was playing pretty aggressive in a run game. So just kind of being patient in that aspect, but also just cleaning up some communication stuff, cleaning up some technique stuff. That’s something that I’m always gonna work on, especially for me, (it’s) my pad level. But also just stepping out there and as a rookie, (and) just having confidence in yourself play in and play out. Like that’s what I’m kind of focused on right now.Campbell on things he can clean up and work in heading into the next game – Via Mlive
Detroit Lions' 2023 Rookie Evaluation: Offensive Line and Receivers
On offense, the newbies were no less impressive. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs, the 12th overall pick, wasn't outstanding on the ground, but he left an impression with an 18-yard catch-and-run and an essential blitz pick-up.
Offensive lineman Colby Sorsdal saw his first professional action at right guard, showing promise and perseverance as he played 37 snaps.
But it was wide receiver Chase Cota who stole the offensive spotlight. The undrafted rookie from UCLA proved a game-changer, grabbing four catches for a game-high 60 yards.
“I would say he’s the quiet sleeper, because I think he’s done some things that — every day, it’s positive. But, it’s just kind of right under the radar,” Campbell said of Cota's performance. “It’s more like, the guy really doesn’t mess things up, and then today, he shows up and makes these plays that catch your eye. So, when you get a guy who’s where he’s supposed to be, he’s accountable, he can really play all the positions, and now he’s making these plays, starting to produce.”Dan Campbell – Post game
Defensive Breakdown: A Closer Look at Detroit Lions' 2023 Rookie Evaluation
On the other side of the ball, Brian Branch stood out, displaying aggression and a hard-hitting style that bodes well for a strong first year.
Brandon Joseph, the promising defensive back from Notre Dame, made the game-sealing interception with just 1:00 remaining. It was a moment of football alchemy, turning an opportunity into victory.
Detroit Lions' 2023 Rookie Evaluation: Who Needs Improvement?
Of course, not every rookie made waves. Tight end Sam LaPorta failed to secure a critical catch early on, and defensive tackle Brodric Martin needs time to develop.
WR Dylan Drummond will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Detroit's next preseason tilt (Aug. 19 vs. Jacksonville).
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- Detroit Lions' rookies shined in the preseason opener, with Campbell and Cota taking center stage.
- The rookies showcased their potential, from QB Adrian Martinez steering game-winning drives to WR Antoine Green making his mark.
- Certain players will need to work harder to impress, as the Detroit Lions' 2023 rookie evaluation revealed areas for growth.
The Bottom Line
Detroit's 2023 rookies are more than just names on a roster. They are the future. And if this first glimpse is anything to go by, that future looks bright indeed.
Want to read more about Detroit's rookies? Check out what Dan Campbell had to say about one underrated rookie and more, only on Detroit Sports Nation.