With the Detroit Lions looking like they could be poised to stay within the top five of the NFL draft next year, the focus for the team remains on what figures to be a very bright future.
The team is in the hunt late in the season now, but it’s impossible not to think of the dividends that a pair of fairly high draft picks will provide. As mock draft season starts to get underway, that’s only becoming more of the case.
Recently, Dane Brugler of The Athletic took a look at putting together his first mock draft. Brugler’s mocks at the site are different, because as he admits, he bases them entirely off intelligence he gains rather than an opinion about what he would do.
To that end, Brugler’s first pick for the Lions with the third-overall selection was an interesting one. He had the team going with Georgia’s Jalen Carter to boost the team’s defensive line.
“With his body control and explosive power, Jalen Carter is a tough player to contain on the interior. In Carter and Alim McNeill, the Lions would have one of the best young defensive tackle duos in the NFL,” Brugler wrote.
A bit further down the board with Detroit’s projected other top selection at 13, Brugler had the Lions landing Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. with the pick. As he wrote, Porter could be an ideal player to help Detroit’s backfield to step up their game.
“Joey Porter Jr. is a long, physical athlete and owns the traits that would appeal to head coach Dan Campbell and the Lions’ decision-makers. Yes, he is overly grabby and needs to scale back his contact mid-coverage, but his aggressive nature will be viewed as more of a strength. A draft haul of Porter and Jalen Carter would pay immediate dividends for the Lions’ defense in 2023,” Brugler said.
Having both players in the mix would certainly boost one of the weak spots on the team considering how bad the Detroit defense has been most of this season.
While this mock doesn’t net the Lions a quarterback, it does fill some immediate needs for the team that could make them better overall very quickly in 2023. Most folks agree the Detroit defense has been way worse than the Lions’ offense this season.
Additions like this, if they played out, could quickly help that dynamic turn around in the coming years.
Carter’s College Stats & Highlights
In terms of a player who could play a huge role up front for the Lions, Carter is a guy that would be an immediate difference maker for Detroit in the trenches.
Far too often this season, the Lions have gotten pushed around at the point of attack with regards to the run game. Additionally, they’ve struggled to rush the passer. Carter could help in solving both of those problems himself.
At Georgia, Carter will likely finish his career with 76 tackles, 16.5 tackles for-loss and five sacks to go with two forced fumbles and two passes defended before the postseason. In terms of his talent, he’s an obvious space eater who could get along well with Alim McNeill.
Many think that Carter is one of the best players likely to be available in the 2023 NFL draft. If he’s available and the Lions are able to snatch him up, he could help change the dynamic for Detroit’s defense.
Porter’s College Stats & Highlights
In terms of Porter, there is a lot to like about the young cornerback as this piece alluded to. He’s been battle tested in the Big Ten and has elite NFL bloodlines considering former linebacker Joey Porter is his father.
Clearly, Porter is his own man in terms of his play, though, which is something that he has proven time and again when playing for Penn State. 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.
Between Porter and Carter, the Lions would be in good shape moving forward at two key positions on the field on defense. These would be a good pair of building blocks for a very needy roster in terms of depth and elite playmaking.