Lions Pressed to Add ‘Physical, High Motor’ Edge Rusher to Pair With Aidan Hutchinson

Aidan Hutchinson Chris Braswell

Getty SB Nation's Joseph Acosta projected the Detroit Lions to draft Alabama's Chris Braswell to pair with Aidan Hutchinson.

Trade rumors in the NFL have linked the Detroit Lions to edge rushers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. But in a perfect world, the Lions will find a long-term pass rushing solution to support growing star defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. SB Nation’s Joseph Acosta argued that long-term solution could potentially be Alabama’s Chris Braswell.

In his post-Super Bowl mock draft, Acosta projected the Lions to draft Braswell at No. 29 overall in the 2024 NFL draft.

“Physical, high motor and wins with power, Braswell fits the type of player Dan Campbell wants on his defensive line, and also has the athletic tools to win at the NFL level,” Acosta wrote. “Detroit desperately needs a secondary pass rusher next to Aidan Hutchinson, and Braswell fits the bill.”

In 14 games during 2023, Braswell posted 8 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. He also returned an interception for a touchdown and had 1 pass defense with 42 total tackles.

How Alabama’s Chris Braswell Could Fit as Complement to Aidan Hutchinson

Cornerback has been a very popular choice for the Lions in mock drafts. That’s because Detroit finished the 2023 season ranked 27th in pass defense and 29th in net yards allowed per pass attempt.

But the lack of sacks likely contributed to Detroit’s weak pass defense. Although the Lions were first in pressure rate during 2023, they were just 23rd with 41 sacks.

Hutchinson led the team with 11.5 sacks and was among the league leaders in pressures. But he was the only consistent Lions pass rusher in 2023.

Defensive tackle Alim McNeill was the team’s only other defender with more than 3 sacks (he had 5).

Therefore, one could argue the Lions adding an edge rusher is just as paramount as the team finding cornerback upgrades.

Braswell broke out with a career high in sacks and tackles for loss during his senior season. He ended his tenure at Alabama with 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in 41 games.

The question, though, is whether Braswell will be a first-round pick. Pro Football Focus ranked him 35th among all available prospects in the 2024 class. ESPN has Braswell rated 42nd while NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah ranked the Alabama edge rusher at No. 48 overall.

“Braswell is an athletic edge rusher with solid production and effort,” Jeremiah wrote. “As a pass rusher, he has a quick first step and active hands. He loves to use a jump/chop/rip move, and he flashes the ability to flatten/finish at the top of his rush.

“Overall, Braswell still has room for development, but he has three-down potential.”

Edge Rushing Depth Detroit Lions Possess Heading into 2024

The Lions could have both edge rusher and cornerback at the top of their offseason priority list. However, in terms of the players set to return, Detroit is in a little better shape at edge rusher than cornerback.

Hutchinson and McNeill are still on rookie contracts. Although they could be potential cap casualties, defensive linemen Levi Onwuzurike, John Cominsky and Josh Paschal are also under contract for 2024.

Outside linebacker James Houston is an exclusive rights free agent, but that means he will very likely return too.

Houston was expected to be the edge rusher to complement Hutchinson in 2023. But Houston suffered a serious leg injury in Week 2 and didn’t return until the NFC championship game.

At cornerback, Kindle Vildor, Khalil Dorsey, Jerry Jacobs and Emmanuel Moseley are all set to be free agents.

But, if the Lions addressed cornerback in free agency, they could then target an edge rusher in the first round. According to Acosta, Braswell is the right player to pair with Hutchinson.

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