Draft Analyst Reveals Why Lions May Have ‘Exciting Future’ in NFL

Brad Holmes Dan Campbell

Getty Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell walk on the field during Lions training camp in 2021.

The Detroit Lions are alive and well in the 2022 NFL playoff picture.

Even though that’s the case, it’s impossible to think about the Lions right now and not think about how bright a future they have. The team has played well, but what they have built lends itself to some major optimism.

Young players have come into the mix from the 2021 and 2022 draft classes and immediately turned the narrative about the franchise. Combined with some savvy additions from the outside from Brad Holmes, such as wideout DJ Chark, cornerback Mike Hughes, wideout Kalif Raymond and defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs.

A general manager that knows talent combined with money to spend and draft picks? That sounds like a recipe for success. ESPN’s Jordan Reid seems to understand that better than most, and recently, he tweeted a reminder of where the team could be heading.

“The Lions have a very exciting future. Five picks in the first three rounds in 2023, a great talent evaluator in GM Brad Holmes, and they play super hard for Dan Campbell and that coaching staff,” Reid tweeted.

Perhaps the most interesting part of that equation is the fact that the Lions play hard for Dan Campbell. That fact cannot be overlooked, as the team has rebuilt its entire culture on the fly and managed to receive major buy-in from veterans and young players alike.

Combine everything and the arrow seems to be pointing firmly in the upward position for the Lions this year. That’s fantastic news for a fanbase that has craved a winner.

Key Positions Lions Must Upgrade in 2023

With as well as Detroit has played to rebound from a 1-6 record and as healthy as they have become, there could be a temptation for some to think the team doesn’t need many upgrades.

Even though things have been good for the Lions lately, there are depth issues across the roster. Ideally, these will be solved in free agency and the draft. Perhaps the biggest spot the Lions need help is in the defensive secondary. The Lions struggle at cornerback, and have given up 3,424 passing yards and 21 touchdowns through the air to top targets.

In terms of the pass rush and linebackers, as good as the rookies have become pressing the pocket, the team also needs help up front from a depth standpoint. Adding another defensive lineman and linebacker to cover ground could be a fantastic idea to make the defense a little bit tougher.

Offensively, there is less heavy lifting to do. Detroit could benefit from adding a tight end at some point, as they only have 3 touchdowns from the position after the departure of T.J. Hockenson. Perhaps a young developmental quarterback to stash behind Jared Goff could be added, too. Depth offensive linemen could also be considered, though the Lions have maintained one of the top fronts in the league this year.

Add it up and the positions of need are starting to dwindle a bit for the team in comparison to recent seasons. Another solid offseason could leave the Lions in position to contend in the NFC North if the right moves are made.

Looking Ahead to the Lions’ 2023 Offseason

As Reid seems to know, the Lions will be at a big advantage when it comes to the offseason thanks to all the money they will have to spend, as well as the draft capital they will have at their disposal.

As it stands now, the Lions have a top 10 cap space total for 2023, according to Spotrac, who lists the team at around $24 million in spending power next offseason. It could certainly grow with cuts and trades coming down the pipe, and there’s sure to be action once a new offseason gets going — no matter how the Lions finish.

With a pair of first and a pair of second-round picks in the draft, the Lions now have a measure of control over the 2023 draft. This is a tantalizing opportunity that Holmes has to push the Lions in the direction of long-term contention. That’s especially true relative to how well his early picks have played.

So far, it looks as if Detroit’s picks are going to be fairly high, especially if Los Angeles continues to struggle. Minnesota‘s pick in the second round from the Hockenson trade may place lower than all of Detroit’s picks, especially if the Vikings continue winning games down the stretch run.

Regardless, the Lions seem to have hope both for the present and for the future. It’s becoming harder and harder to ignore that even as the team seems poised for a fun finish to the year.

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