The Detroit Lions have multiple needs and have shown an ability to check them off effectively in the NFL draft. For that reason, there are plenty of good prospect fits for 2023.
Between the defense and the offense, the Lions could benefit from the addition of pleny of players in the annual selection meeting this spring. But how many players, and who makes the most sense?
If Pro Football Focus and analyst Trevor Sikkema is to be believed, the answer is a lot. Recently, Sikkema took a look at naming the top fits for every player on the PFF top 32 prospect list.
Perhaps not shockingly, the Lions showed up more than once at multiple different positions on the list, both offensively and defensively. In total, the Lions were included five times, and were seen as a fit for some of the top prospects in the draft.
The first player Sikkema had Detroit as a fit for Jalen Carter, one of the most controversial players in the draft given some legal trouble the youngster has faced recently. Still, as Sikkema says, he has a quality fit on the field in Detroit.
“If Carter makes it to Detroit’s pick, he would be a perfect fit. Adding a truly dominant three-technique is the last missing piece on that young and improving defensive line,” he wrote.
From there, he had the Lions as the best fit for Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, a player Sikkema had at fourth-overall. As he said, Levis could benefit from being able to learn with Jared Goff as well as Ben Johnson.
“Who knows if something like this would happen, but the Lions having the sixth overall pick makes it possible. I love the idea of Levis sitting behind Jared Goff for at least a year while learning from offensive coordinator Ben Johnson,” he wrote.
After that, Detroit was Sikkema’s pick for the ninth-overall ranked player in the draft in the form of TCU wideout Quentin Johnston. As he said, Johnston could pair with Amon-Ra St. Brown and give the Lions a dynamic talent.
“How can you not love this one? The Lions already have a stud in Amon-Ra St. Brown, who can play a lot of different spots but is a killer slot receiver. Johnston would give them an athletic X receiver on the outside,” Sikkema said.
The next player that fit came in at 10th on the list, and was Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez, who’s become a mock favorite for Detroit. Sikkema admits that Jeff Okudah could form a nice pair with the PAC-12 standout.
“Drafting Gonzalez to be your CB1 and allowing Okudah to be a CB2 would create a nice duo for a Detroit secondary that needs upgrades,” he wrote.
Finally, the last player who Sikkema listed placed at 27th and was Bijan Robinson, the exciting prospect from Texas. As he explained, the Lions are his favorite spot for Robinson given the talent on their roster at his position and offensive line.
“Bijan Robinson will succeed no matter where he goes, but my favorite spot for him is Detroit. He’d have one of the best offensive lines in the league in front of him, and he wouldn’t have to carry the ball a million times this season with other reliable backs on the roster,” Sikkema said.
These are a lot of fits for the Lions, but the team has a lot of needs on both sides of the ball, as they try and build up their roster to have an infusion of talent in the years ahead to contend.
The likelihood of the Lions ending up with all these players is not strong, but with two first-round picks, they may end up with a few. That could be advantage Detroit in terms of roster building for the future.
Jalen Carter Comes With Draft Baggage
Just ahead of the 2023 NFL combine, a report surfaced that Carter was involved in a car accident in Athens, Georgia that claimed the lives of two people.
Carter was arrested last week on charges of reckless driving and racing in connection with a crash that killed a Georgia Bulldogs teammate and a recruiting staff member. He then posted bond and was released. There will be an arraignment hearing on April 18, 2023.
After what played out, Carter quickly revealed a statement in which he explained what happened, and shared faith that he would be “fully exonerated of any wrongdoing” once the facts of the case were known.
What happens with Carter’s draft stock as a result of this remains to be seen, but it’s possible that the character concern could push him down the board to Detroit, either at the sixth-overall pick or perhaps 18th overall. Carter has been seen as a potential top-five pick otherwise.
Whether or not Carter would remain on the board for the Lions remains to be seen. The team has not taken any character reaches in the draft under Brad Holmes since he took over in 2021, and has instead focused on gritty players who fit the mold of the locker room and what the team wants on the field.
In the minds of some, Carter still represents the best fit overall for the Lions, given the need he could fill on the team’s roster. What plays out with his legal case will remain to be seen in the weeks ahead.
Lions’ Biggest 2023 Draft Needs
No matter what the team elects to do with their picks, the Lions have plenty of needs in the 2023 draft. Most will figure to be on the defensive side of the football given how poorly the team has played this year in that spot.
On the back end, the Lions could use big help at cornerback and safety since they have struggled with depth there. The team also needs more linebackers and perhaps defensive lineman to change the narrative in the trenches, seeing as the team has been getting pushed around at times in those spots.
The Lions are better off at the skill positions, but could decide on a new wideout or running back to help depth, and perhaps a tight end as well. Depth along the offensive line could be important for the team as well given injuries happen in the trenches.
Detroit will have plenty of options this year, and it’s clear plenty of players will fit their mold.