Inside the Article:
After making a couple of picks in the first round that the national media blasted, the Detroit Lions dominated Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, and they have been graded accordingly. As you will see below, the national media loved what the Lions did on Day 2 compared to what they did in the opening round.
- Despite criticism from national media for their earlier picks, the Detroit Lions had a successful Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft.
- As a result, the Lions have earned high grades for their performance in the draft.
- Ultimately, the opinions of outside experts and their draft grades hold little significance compared to the confidence and satisfaction of the Lions' own scouting team.
Detroit Lions earn high grades after rocking Day 2 of 2023 NFL Draft
Here is a sampling of the grades the Lions received for their Day 2 picks:
Sam LaPorta: B+
“It’s coincidental that LaPorta essentially replaces Hockenson, who was traded to Minnesota last midseason. There’s some question about why LaPorta over Michael Mayer, who also was available. But both were Mackey Award finalists, and it came down to preference.”
Brian Branch: A+
“The Lions jumped up three spots to grab perhaps the most versatile defensive back in the draft and continue reshaping their secondary. … Branch (5-11 5/8, 190) possesses average speed (4.58 in the 40) and put up 14 reps of 225 pounds on the bench. He’s a physical tackler and fought through injuries last year, which impacted Alabama’s defense. Branch does have positional flexibility and can play corner, safety or nickel from day one. He’s a perfect fit for Aaron Glenn’s defense, and the value is off the charts as (Dane) Brugler’s No. 17-ranked player.”
Hendon Hooker: A+
“Perhaps the Lions’ first-round picks were considered reaches. But in the third round, the Lions picked their potential quarterback of the future and afforded him the opportunity to redshirt while rehabbing from a torn ACL. Can you say win-win-win? … His ACL tear might end up as a blessing for both Hooker and the Lions. There won’t be any pressure to play him, and he can learn the offensive intricacies in both practice and in the video room for a year.”
Brodric Martin: D
“The Lions needed a big, physical defensive tackle to rotate, but they gave up a ton to select a player graded as a seventh-rounder by Brugler. The Lions dealt a fourth-rounder and two fifths to move up late in the third round. … Martin has gigantic arms (35) and a wingspan to match (83 ¼ inches) and plays with physicality. But, wow, that was a ton for a non-combine invite. He’s either a big-time steal or a reach longer than Martin’s wingspan.”
Pro Football Network
Sam Laporta: C-
This is a safe pick, but a reach nonetheless when you consider the other TE talent left on the board. Michael Mayer is the obviously superior prospect with his route nuance, toughness, and reliability as a catcher, and Tucker Kraft also has a superior profile to LaPorta with his size, athleticism, and contact balance.
Brian Branch: A+
The Lions have fielded early criticism for their lack of value in the first few rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft, but they make up for any reaches ten-fold with this pick. Midway through the second round, the Lions aggressively traded up and landed Alabama DB Brian Branch.
Hendon Hooker: B
Hooker is Round 3 is a lot easier to stomach in Round 3 than in Round 1, and the Lions have addressed enough needs to this point to make room for the selection. With Jared Goff due for an extension soon, it makes sense to get Hooker in the QB room as a quality backup with some physical upside.
Brodric Martin: D+
The size and strength present appeal with Martin, but this is a considerable reach – perhaps larger than any of the gambles Detroit made in Round 1. Martin graded as a late-Day 3 prospect at best for me.
Sam Laporta: A
“YAC monster, big-time athlete, strong hands. Gave me George Kittle vibes. Easy fit into the vacancy created by T.J. Hockenson trade.“
Brian Branch: A
“Best tackling defensive back I’ve ever scouted. Instinctive playmaker in coverage at intermediate level. Extensive slot defender experience. Just a lesser athlete. Will be fun with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.”
Hendon Hooker: B-
“This is closer to where I had him graded. Pocket passer with some athleticism but won’t run away from NFL defenders. Accuracy and arm strength are good, not great. Threw to many wide open receivers in college. Somewhat of a strange long-term option at QB given his age. Exudes leadership. Teddy Bridgewater type“
Brodric Martin: D+
“Huge, overwhelming NT with crazy length he knows how to use well. Very limited athleticism and juice up the field but he will overwhelm with power at times. Gets off blocks well against the run. Very old prospect too. High pad level saps some of his power. The trade up lowers this grade more.“
Bottom Line: Draft grades don't mean anything
The bottom line is that draft grades from a bunch of the so-called “experts” mean absolutely nothing in the big scheme of things. The guys and gals putting out these grades put in a small fraction of time at best into scouting the NFL Draft prospects, and in reality, they really don't know what they are talking about. All that matters is that Brad Holmes and his staff think they nailed the draft, which they clearly do.