The Detroit Lions have a pair of picks in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft, and with some luck, they will be able to land even more impact players for their future.
After a very solid 2022 draft, the Lions have their sights on dominating the selection meeting again in order to keep their future bright. Early on, some good news has developed for the team in terms of what the strengths of the impending draft look like.
Detroit’s defense will once again be the neediest spot on the team, and according to The Athletic’s draft insider Dane Brugler, a couple spots they could consider early in the draft figure to be extra deep with players.
Those spots? The edge rush position and cornerback. As Brugler wrote, the edge spot has plenty of different kinds of talent, while cornerback benefitted from some younger players entering the draft early and not returning to college.
“1. Edge Rusher: Also toughest position to stack bc there is so much talent (and different kinds of talents). EDGE will stretch into day 3. 2. Cornerback: Underclassmen really helped. Deep group. 3. Tight End: I have 5 TEs in my top-50 and a few others in the top-100. Loaded!,” Brugler tweeted.
While the Lions might not need another edge rusher that badly early on, the position could certainly stand for some depth, especially if the player could go inside and out up front for the team and be versatile.
For these purposes, the Lions should be absolutely thrilled that the cornerback position is looking so deep this season. The team has a significant need at the spot, and could be looking to fill it within the first few rounds of the draft.
In terms of good news for Detroit, this would seemingly represent the best at this point in the pre-draft process.
Lions Secondary Needs 2023 Upgrades
Why add a cornerback at some point in the draft? Detroit’s secondary was arguably the worst group on the team’s defense this year, and they have the statistics to prove it.
Detroit finished 30th in pass defense, allowing 26 touchdowns and over 245 yards per-game on average. Worse, they allowed a total of 4,179 yards through the air. That points to a group that simply didn’t get much going all season long.
Jeff Okudah, who posted 73 tackles and one interception was the most consistent player of the group, and by the end of the season, he was struggling to find consistency as well. The Lions have solid pieces like Jerry Jacobs, but not nearly enough depth at the position, which proved itself to be the case most of the year.
Free agent Amani Oruwariye figures to be on the outs after a very tough season in 2022, and Mike Hughes may not have done enough to stick around as a must re-sign player. That could lead the Lions to prioritize the spot heavy in the draft.
Getting some veteran players along with a few more young bodies could be the key toward helping the Lions turn things around for the future. Early on, it seems as if the draft is going to fit the Lions and their needs in the defensive backfield in a big way.
Top 2023 Draft Cornerback Fits for Lions
In terms of players that fit the Lions at corner, there figures to be quite a few early in the draft from a very deep position this coming April.
Already, the Lions have been speculated to be a perfect fit for Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., arguably the top cornerback set to hit the draft.
Statistically, he’s been solid given he has racked up 112 total tackles, one interception and 20 passes defended in a four year career with the Nittany Lions.
From there, many expect Illinois corner Devon Witherspoon to be a player that flies up boards. Witherspoon has already been mentioned as a potential fit for Detroit in a recent mock, and his production and style could be a big bonus.
In a four year career with the Illini, Witherspoon put up 157 tackles, 11.5 tackles for-loss, one sack and five interceptions. He also defended 25 passes and collected three fumble recoveries. That work led him to being named a 2022 consensus All-American.
In addition to them, Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez is a high-riser, and in the minds of some, a player who has the status of being one of the best potential cornerbacks in the draft. He posted 128 tackles and four interceptions in his college career.
Others, such as Georgia’s Kelee Ringo, South Carolina’s Cam Smith, Alabama’s Eli Ricks and Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes could be fits around the first two rounds.
Clearly, the Lions are going to have their shot at getting their hands on a few top prospects. The deeper the class, the better off Detroit will be as it relates to fixing their problems.