Draft Analyst Reveals Which Pick Lions Should Attempt to Trade First

Brad Holmes

Getty Brad Holmes speaks during the 2022 NFL combine.

The Detroit Lions are pondering what to do next in terms of the 2023 NFL draft, and as they make their final preparations for the end of the month, it’s clear there is plenty of ways the team could handle things.

While the Lions could theoretically stay put at both pick six and 18 and draft franchise=altering first-round talents, the chance should exist for the team to trade back and perhaps gain even more draft capitol.

Armed with four picks within the first two rounds, the Lions will be able to change their already improving roster dramatically. But what if they dealt back and gained even more picks?

ESPN writer Bill Barnwell took a closer look at the first-round of the draft and which teams should be looking to deal their selections. With a pair of picks, the Lions were one of the more popular teams to have their situation broken down.

Barnwell opined that the team should stick with the sixth pick, because they need to beef up the defensive line, unless they get a major offer.

“Staying put here would give the franchise the opportunity to add one of the other top defensive linemen, Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech) or Jalen Carter (Georgia). Carter is considered one of the most talented prospects in this class, but he recently pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing for his alleged role in a Jan. 15 car wreck. Unless the Lions are blown away by an offer, it would make sense for them to address their D-line here,” he wrote in the piece.

Where he does want to see the Lions move back, though, is with pick 18. As Barnwell explained, the Lions could be tempted to move up and try to land another big-time player. Instead, he thinks the team should hold steady and see who wants to come up for a trade down.

“With the Lions closer to contention, there’s going to be an urge to try to land another premium player by moving up, but I’d like to see them recoup some of the capital they lost last year by going the other way. This is a spot in which teams could be trying to trade up for a quarterback, which could happen if one of the top four passers falls out of the top 15 or if a team has a mid-first-round grade on Hendon Hooker (Tennessee). The Buccaneers and Seahawks are coming up next and could consider a quarterback with their picks. Holmes made a deal with the Vikings last year; could Minnesota move up again here to land its quarterback of the future?,” Barnwell wrote.

The Lions could trade back at either spot, but it does make sense for them to land one of the top talents in the 2023 draft relative to where the pick could have ended up. If they could trade back from 18, it would help in adding even more picks, perhaps for the middle rounds.

Either way, the Lions are in good shape for the future, and should have an opportunity to make a dramatic impact on their roster with both picks, or whatever they could add to the mix via trade.

How Trading Back in Draft Could Help Lions

As general manager, Holmes has shown that he is not adverse to big moves, especially regarding netting himself extra draft picks for the future in trades.

During the 2022 draft, Holmes traded up from the 32nd pick to pick 12 to select Alabama wideout Jameson Williams while also landing a second-round selection. Last season, he dealt tight end T.J. Hockenson to Minnesota for a second-round pick. Holmes also made the blockbuster deal to acquire a pair of first round picks and Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford.

No matter where he has selected, Holmes has shown he can find talent. The Lions have nabbed key contributors in the last two drafts anywhere from the second to sixth round. In 2021, the team landed tackle Alim McNeill (third round), wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown (fourth round) and linebacker Derrick Barnes (fifth round). 2022 produced defensive tackle Josh Paschal (second round), safety Kerby Joseph (third round), linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez (sixth round) and edge rusher James Houston (sixth round).

Detroit’s roster has shown that it badly needs more depth, especially on defense. Having cracks at more picks would allow the Lions to continue to throw players at problems at multiple spots on the field.

Still, would that be worth risking turning down a top player? Many think Detroit trading back during this draft is a key to helping to maximize the draft and the offseason.

Lions Remaining Draft Needs for 2023

What will come next for the Lions from a need standpoint in the draft? This offseason, the team has done a nice job to check off some of their bigger needs in order to make sure that they will not be desperate for any one position in the draft.

No longer does it seem as if the defensive backfield is the biggest need on the team. The Lions have addressed it with some free agent signings, and don’t have to rush to take a cornerback in a deep market. They could always look to address that spot further down the board.

Defensively, though, the Lions do still need lineman, and that could be the early target of the sixth-overall selection. A linebacker could also be seen as a must for the defense to get over the top in 2023.

Offensively, the Lions could entertain the notion of a backup quarterback, though that selection may not come with the first two picks. A tight end, offensive guard and wide receiver could serve as additional depth picks for the team, but none of those spots are pressing.

Overall, the Lions have done a good job to check off lots of their needs. Trading back would allow the rich to get richer in many aspects, which would make the move very interesting for Detroit.

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