Former Lions Tight End Makes Prediction for Big 2023 NFC North Shakeup

Clay Harbor

Getty Clay Harbor runs on the field for Jacksonville in 2015.

The Detroit Lions have been hard at work trying to reshape things for the 2023 season, and the work has been good for the team in terms of getting turned around for the future.

With the roster evolving and the team on the rise as well as a changing of the guard in the division, it looks as if the Lions are poised to take over and take things to the top.

As former NFL and Lions tight end Clay Harbor pointed out, that shift could already have happened. With The 33rd Team, Harbor explained that the division may now start with Detroit once again.

“I think this division has to start in Detroit. I think Detroit has to be the favorite now. They got the sixth and 18th picks in the draft, and four picks in the top 60. They’re going to be able to improve this roster even more than it’s improved now,” Harbor said in the clip.

As he went on to explain in a tweet, the Lions improved in plenty of ways already, and they haven’t even hit the draft yet, a spot where the team has managed to do most of their damage recently.

In addition, Harbor sees Jared Goff as a solid quarterback, which gives the Lions a major advantage.

“The Lions won 8 of their last 10 last year and IMPROVED. They have fixed their secondary. Cam Sutton. Emmanuel Mosely. CJ Gardner-Johnson. They have 2 first-rd picks (No. 6, 18) and four in the top 60. Bears have improved but so have the Lions. In 2022, Goff threw for 4,438 yards, 29 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He set a franchise record for the most consecutive passes without an interception (324) while posting the NFL’s fifth-best total QBR (61.1). Goff can play,” Harbor said in the tweet.

Given the state of the division with the Green Bay Packers in-flux, the Chicago Bears rebuilding and the Minnesota Vikings a toss up, it seems the Lions are in good position to get things going in the right direction. The Lions have not won their division sinc 1994.

After the start to the offseason, Harbor already sees the Lions as a team poised to do some major damage. They might even be new favorites as he sees it at this point in time.

Lions Enjoying Strong Offseason Thus Far

The Lions have done good work to turn their roster around in a big way, both with inside additions as well as outside additions.

Detroit managed to secure major boosts to their backfield by signing cornerback Cameron Sutton as well as cornerback Emmanuel Moseley. That duo already figured to help, but the Lions managed to add C.J. Gardner-Johnson to the mix at safety to boost things further.

In-house, the Lions re-signed some of their top free agents such as Alex Anzalone, Isaiah Buggs and John Cominsky. Along with running back David Montgomery and offensive lineman Graham Glasgow, the team is in good shape as it relates to keeping the key players around while also adding others to the mix.

If Detroit wanted to make a few more additions, an interior defensive lineman as well as linebacker would be on the list. The team could also look to add another wideout, potentially re-signing DJ Chark, or a tight end as well.

Regardless, the Lions have already done a great job this offseason as it relates to keeping their roster in a good place to contend.

NFC North Flip Could Come Soon

Detroit could have one major advantage over their closest divisional competition in that they started their rebuild a few years early. That could help them be in prime position to compete in the division quicker.

Minnesota and Chicago both hit reset after the 2021-22 season, which means there could be some short and long-term pain yet to come for them in terms of roster building. The Packers still remain at the top of the heap, but after Aaron Rodgers leaves, all bets are off as it relates to the direction the franchise will take. They’ve got some strong pieces elsewhere on offense and defense, but elite quarterback play can prove to be a major driver of team success.

Minus Rodgers, the Packers could prove to be very average. By then, the Lions could be emerging from their rebuild a team ready to contend. Even with Rodgers, the Lions were 2-0 against Green Bay in 2022, and were 5-1 against the division as a whole.

While Chicago and Minnesota might have different timelines in coming years, the Lions could be seen as a team with a trajectory firmly planted in the upward position. Across the landscape in the division, it’s not easy to see lots of others in that same boat.

In terms of 2022, the Lions already did some damage to their division foes. There might only be more of that to come in the near future relative to how the Lions have managed to build up their roster.

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