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The 2023 NFL Draft is less than a month away and it is going to be very interesting to see which direction the Detroit Lions decide to go. ESPN draft guru Todd McShay has released his latest 2023 NFL Mock Draft, and he has the Lions rotating defense and offense over their first four picks.
Why it Matters
The Lions currently hold four total picks in their first two rounds, which puts them in a great position to add some serious talent to their roster. Mock drafts mean little to nothing in the big picture, but they can give you an idea of which players could still be available for each pick slot.
Todd McShay has Detroit Lions attacking defense
Here are the picks McShay has the Lions making in the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft, along with my grade for each pick.
6. Detroit Lions (from LAR) – Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech
This pick has to be defense. Detroit was miserable in that department last season, and it was the reason it came up short in the playoff hunt. The Lions were bottom-three in yards allowed per rush (5.2), yards allowed per pass attempt (7.9), opponent QBR (56.0) and third-down defense (45.1%). Adding Wilson to a young edge-rushing contingent that already includes Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston could create real conflict for opponent pass-protectors, though. He had seven sacks in 2022 for a second straight year, and his arm length and pure power jump out on tape.
I also considered the secondary with a handful of top-tier cornerbacks on the board, but the Lions have been aggressive there by signing Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and C.J. Gardner-Johnson in free agency. Detroit is back on the clock at No. 18 and has a pair of second-rounders.
Though this would not be the perfect situation for the Lions, I believe it would be the next best thing as Wilson has a chance to be a very good NFL player.
18. Detroit Lions – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Fans will question just about any landing spot for Robinson because of his position, but consider how heavily the Lions lean on the run and what Robinson can do for an offense. We're talking about a top-five talent in this class who can break free with burst through the hole, make defenders miss with his strength and haul in passes with his reliable hands. Jamaal Williams is gone to New Orleans, and D'Andre Swift has struggled to stay healthy and is entering the final year of his contract. Yes, Detroit signed David Montgomery, but he has rushed for 100-plus yards just three times over the past two seasons. Robinson had only three games under 100 rushing yards last year.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, this would be the highest a running back has been drafted since the Giants took Saquon Barkley at No. 2 in 2018. But Robinson is special. Other options for Detroit include tight end or continuing down the defensive rebuild path, but with four picks in the first two rounds, it can afford to make this luxury selection and fill some other holes down the road.
I hate taking a running back in the first round, but at the same time, there is something very intriguing about adding an elite running back to run behind the Lions' offensive line. That being said, we did just sign David Montgomery to a multi-year deal, so I would rather see the Lions take a CB at No. 18.
48. Detroit Lions – Jack Campbell, ILB, Iowa
Campbell posted more than 120 tackles in each of the past two seasons, and he'd compete for snaps with Alex Anzalone and Malcolm Rodriguez in the middle of this defense undergoing a big overhaul.
Jack Campbell has a chance to be a solid NFL player, but in this scenario, the Lions have yet to address the interior of their defensive line, which is their biggest need at this point.
55. Detroit Lions (from MIN) – Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
Yup, another tight end. LaPorta makes it six in the first two rounds, which would tie the common draft era record set in 1974. But this class is that good. LaPorta was consistent at Iowa, catching 153 passes over four seasons for 1,786 yards and five scores. He has speed down the seam and tempos his routes effectively. LaPorta could step in for T.J. Hockenson, who was traded to Minnesota at the deadline last season.
I do like LaPorta, and I do think he would be a nice fit with the Lions, but, once again, McShay is ignoring the interior of the defensive line.
Bottom Line: This Draft Haul Would be Disappointing
If the Lions walk out of the 2023 NFL Draft without selecting an interior defensive lineman or a cornerback, I will be shocked and disappointed at the same time. The defense did not hold up well against the run in 2022, and unless they do something to solidify the interior of their defensive line, that could end up being the case again this coming season goes. As far as cornerback goes, yes, the Lions have added some good pieces during the offseason, but only one of those players is under contract beyond the 2022 season, which means it would be wise for Brad Holmes to select a CB in the upcoming draft.
Overall Draft Grade: B-
Taking Robinson with the 18th pick is one of the best possible picks in this draft. Swift isn’t durable enough for the NFL. Pick Robinson is like putting a “Sanders back” with a great offensive line and weapons outside in the pass game. Just imagine play action to Robinson and hitting Williams with a fly route.
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