Experts Reach Exciting Consensus About Lions Ahead of 2023 NFL Draft

Dan Campbell

Getty Dan Campbell gestures for a touchdown in 2022 in Chicago.

The Detroit Lions will be rolling toward the 2023 NFL draft over the next week, and as they do, they should be confident about the direction things could go for the future.

After a 9-8 season, the Lions have tangible momentum on the field, and after a strong performance in free agency, the team is pushing toward being able to have the kind of draft that can alter a franchise.

That statement is something which plenty in the NFL community no doubt agree with at this point in time, and the proof is in a piece at which analyzed the teams who have the most to gain during the draft.

While some of the answers were scattered between the seven columnists, three of the respondents said the Lions were the team with the most to gain from the draft, showing a consensus. Writer Judy Battista was the first to toss her support behind the Lions, and as she said, Detroit has already impressed renovating their roster, but could take even more steps in the right direction.

“The Lions have two first-round draft selections (Nos. six and 18) and five of the first 81 picks. The front office has done a superb job remaking the roster, and if the Lions hit on these picks — particularly with some defensive players — they could take full advantage of what appears to be a wide open division, with Aaron Rodgers on his way out,” Battista wrote.

From there, Jeffri Chadiha went back with the Lions, saying that they will be able to find some difference-makers right off the bat that can help them in flipping the balance of power in the division very quickly.

“The Lions came within one game of making the playoffs last season, and they’re poised to be even better this fall. They’re sitting on two first-round picks — Nos. six and 18 — which means they can leave the first day with two potential difference-makers. The NFC North is wide-open with Aaron Rodgers in the process of leaving Green Bay. The Lions can put themselves in a great position to win it by hitting it big in the first round,” Chadiha said in the piece.

Detroit’s 2021 and 2022 classes have already taken on a bedrock feel for the team, and with even more additions coming in 2023, the Lions can build the kind of young roster that can contend not only now, but for a long time provided they can keep hitting on picks.

All of that combines to give the Lions a very exciting future, and one where they could be considered a potential favorite in the NFC North given some of the other changes in the division.

Draft Insider: Lions Have Options to Find Starters

Not only do the Lions have the chance to jump up in the NFC North after this year, but the team could cement themselves as an NFC contender in that time, as well.

Why? The Lions have the kind of early picks that can help them find difference makers at key positions. draft insider Lance Zierlein, who covers those matters closely for the site, agreed with the notion that the Lions had the most to gain in the draft. For Zierlein, the reason was mostly the quantity of picks and where they place this year.

“With five selections within the first 81 picks (including two firsts and two seconds), the Lions have the draft capital to really fill out their roster with future starters, or they can package picks and land three players they truly covet. The Lions made huge strides last season and are in position to take another step forward if they can convert this year’s draft class into immediate help. After drafting effectively over the last couple of years, GM Brad Holmes has built plenty of confidence in and around Detroit,” Zierlein said in the piece.

The number of picks early on are a key point. The Lions can trade up just as they did in 2022 for a top player they liked in Jameson Williams. They can also trade back and acquire more picks, or deal picks for proven NFL players that could be on the trading block.

No matter whether it’s many young players or other outside additions, the Lions feel like a lock to add even more future starters. As Zierlein knows, that sets them up to be positioned well into the future.

Lions Have Opportunity to Fill Holes Dramatically

With 10 picks in the draft this season including four within the first two rounds, the Lions will be one of the most uniquely positioned teams to fill out all of their needs in a confident way.

On defense, the team could be angling toward making a key addition for the defensive line. There are plenty of top prospects the Lions could look at during the draft, including defensive tackles Jalen Carter and Calijah Kancey in the first-round, and also edge players like Tyree Wilson, Will Anderson Jr., Bryan Bresee, Myles Murphy, Nolan Smith and others.

At cornerback, the Lions could need some help as well, but the good news is, 2023 will offer a very deep class at that position. Whether it’s a player like Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon or Joey Porter Jr. in round one, or names like Kelee Ringo, Deonte Banks, Emmanuel Forbes or Darius Rush further down the board.

As for the offense, Detroit could use another tight end for depth, as well as potentially a wide receiver. The team could choose to swing big on a game-breaking talent at running back like Bijan Robinson, but they don’t have to with D’Andre Swift and David Montgomery on the roster. A developmental guard could be an interesting idea for an earlier selection.

It can be expected that the Lions will check off all of these needs at one point or another during the draft, which figures to give the team a chance at building a very exciting young roster for the future.

For that reason, the Lions may easily have the most to gain from the draft this season, which is something many experts seem to agree on.

Read More