Todd McShay’s New Mock Provides Lions an Intriguing Roster Build Idea

Bijan Robinson

Getty Bijan Robinson runs for a touchdown in a 2022 game for Texas.

The Detroit Lions have some decisions to make later this month as it relates to the 2023 NFL draft, and a big question the team will have to answer is whether to bolster the offense or the defense.

With eight picks in the draft and four in the first two rounds, the Lions have an ability to reshape their team in a significant way, and that will come on both sides of the ball. After free agency, though, which is most important?

Some early mock drafts have made the case that the team could make defense a big priority, but what if the team elects to add to their offense after a major offseason of building up the defense? It’s more than possible given the fact the team has so many picks and has boosted multiple spots on the defensive side.

ESPN’s Todd McShay put out yet another two-round mock draft update, and he had the Lions splitting things in terms of the first two rounds of the draft. Two picks went on defense, and two on offense.

With the sixth-overall pick, the Lions landed Texas Tech defensive lineman Tyree Wilson, who McShay admitted could be a game-changing addition to Detroit’s already improving defensive front.

“Adding Wilson to a young edge-rushing contingent that already includes Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston could create real conflict for opponent pass-protectors, though. He had seven sacks in 2022 for a second straight year, and his arm length and pure power jump out on tape,” McShay wrote.

Detroit didn’t select defense again in this mock until their first pick of the second-round, at 48th overall. Iowa’s Jack Campbell was the target there for McShay, who liked his ability to slot in with Detroit’s other talented youngsters at the spot.

“Campbell posted more than 120 tackles in each of the past two seasons, and he’d compete for snaps with Alex Anzalone and Malcolm Rodriguez in the middle of this defense undergoing a big overhaul,” McShay wrote of Campbell as a second-round pick.

Defensively, those upgrades are intriguing, because they come along the defensive front at at linebacker. After major free agency additions to the secondary, the team could need players at either of those spots in order to take the next step toward building a more well-rounded defense.

Statistically, Wilson and Campbell are no slouches. The former posted 121 tackles and 17 sacks in a four-year college career that spanned between the Red Raiders and Texas A&M. The latter posted 299 tackles, three sacks, five interceptions, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 10 passes defended for the Hawkeyes.

Where things get extra interesting involves what McShay decides to do with the team’s offense in the hypothetical draft.

Todd McShay Helps Lions’ Offense With Additions

With those picks, the Lions go defense for McShay. With two other picks, the team goes with offense, and perhaps luxury picks in the form of Texas running back Bijan Robinson as well as tight end Sam LaPorta.

McShay sees an upgrade at running back as intriguing for the Lions, given what has happened this offseason and in the past at the position. That’s why he sends Robinson to Detroit with pick 18.

“Jamaal Williams is gone to New Orleans, and D’Andre Swift has struggled to stay healthy and is entering the final year of his contract. Yes, Detroit signed David Montgomery, but he has rushed for 100-plus yards just three times over the past two seasons. Robinson only had three games under 100 rushing yards last year,” McShay points out.

At tight end, McShay had the team going with LaPorta from Iowa, a guy who he sees as someone that could not only pave the way in the running game, but offer upside as a pass catcher, as well.

“Yup, another tight end. LaPorta makes it six in the first two rounds, which would tie the common draft era record set in 1974. But this class is that good. LaPorta was consistent at Iowa, catching 153 passes over four seasons for 1,786 yards and five scores. He has speed down the seam and tempos his routes effectively. LaPorta could step in for T.J. Hockenson, who was traded to Minnesota at the deadline last season,” he wrote.

Both of these players would offer major boosts to Detroit. The team may not need another running back or tight end on paper, but in the vein of best player available, either could fit at this point in the draft to give the team a push to becoming even better.

Detroit added David Montgomery this offseason, but Swift is coming into a vital contract year, so adding a running back could make sense. At tight end, the Lions have a decent trio with Brock Wright, Shane Zylstra and James Mitchell coming back, but one more young player could help that group, too.

Matt LaPorta, Bijan Robinson Would Boost Lions

There is no question that the moves that are shown in this draft would help Detroit’s offense in a way few other mocks have shown, and both Robinson and LaPorta bring some interesting elements to the Lions and their offense.

Detroit has not added a tight end this offseason, and LaPorta would be an intriguing move given what he brings to the mix as a complete package type of target for a team.

The tight end isn’t a prolific college pass catcher, having hauled in just five touchdowns and 1,786 yards in his career. He is gritty and tough as the tape shows, however.

LaPorta could impact the game positively as a blocker, as most tight ends from Iowa translate well to the NFL. Names like Dallas Clark, Hockenson and Noah Fant have all done well in their transitions to the league, and LaPorta could be next in line.

In terms of Robinson, the runner was arguably the top back in the 2022 season, posting a solid 1,580 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also has caught 19 passes for 314 yards and two scores, and had several electric plays to his credit.

As a whole, Robinson has totaled 3,410 yards and 60 touchdowns on the ground in college. That’s to go with 805 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in his career catching the ball. It’s clear he is a diverse weapon capable of stretching out a defense.

Though both of these players could be classified as a luxury selection for the Lions, either of them could be just what the team needed to help fortify them at a pair of key spots on an already strong offense.

McShay’s newest mock draft plan offers the Lions a very interesting way of thinking about the draft. If the team were to split picks, this could be an intriguing way to fill plenty of big needs.

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