The Dallas Cowboys have officially lost the title of "America's Team." That now belongs to the Detroit Lions. It started with Dan Campbell's kneecap comment when he was introduced as head coach. Then, the Lions quickly rose up through the "most likable" team power rankings with an appearance on HBO's "Hard Knocks." Detroit didn't let its new fans down in 2022, with a roller coaster of a season that ended on a high note.
The Lions started off the 2022 campaign 1-6, but rebounded to win eight of their final 10 games. That included a surprising 20-16 upset win over the rival Green Bay Packers in the regular-season finale to keep Aaron Rodgers out of the postseason. After finishing second in the NFC North with their first winning season since 2017, everyone has eyes on the Lions moving forward.
Detroit finished 2022 with the No. 4 offense in the NFL, but the worst defense in the league. Additions will have to be made on that side of the ball this offseason. Thanks to the Matthew Stafford trade a couple years ago, the Lions own two picks in the first round this year. How should they use them, and what should they look to accomplish at large in the 2023 NFL Draft? That's what we're here to break down.
Lions team needs: TE, CB, DL, OG, QB (via Josh Edwards)
Note: Compensatory selections have yet to be awarded.
Lions 2023 draft picks
- Round 1, Pick 6 overall (from LAR)
- Round 1, Pick 18 overall
- Round 2, Pick 48 overall
- Round 2, Pick 59 overall (from MIN)
- Round 3, Pick 81 overall
- Round 5, Pick 149 overall
- Round 6, Pick 169 overall (from DEN)
- Round 6, Pick 180 overall
CBSSports.com mock drafts
|Pick||Ryan Wilson||Chris Trapasso||Josh Edwards||Kyle Stackpole|
DL Myles Murphy (Clemson)
CB Devon Witherspoon (Illinois)
DL Myles Murphy (Clemson)
CB Kelee Ringo (Georgia)
DB Deonte Banks (Maryland)
TE Dalton Kincaid (Utah)
CB Christian Gonzalez (Oregon)
DL Bryan Bresee (Clemson)
For more extensive draft content, check out our latest prospect rankings and mock drafts, as well as our new weekly podcast, "With the First Pick," featuring former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.
Draft a cornerback with one of the first-round picks
Draft experts are claiming this cornerback class is a deep one, which is great for all 32 NFL teams. Cornerback has quickly turned into a premier position in the NFL, and the Lions need a legitimate starter there. The cornerback class in free agency is very "meh" in my opinion, so the Lions need to draft one with one of their first-round picks.
General manager Brad Holmes and the scouting department should do their homework on Joey Porter Jr. out of Penn State, Christian Gonzalez from Oregon, Kelee Ringo of Georgia, Devon Witherspoon of Illinois and Cam Smith from South Carolina, just to name a few. Decide on your future star cornerback, and grab him.
If you're one of the people who are nervous about taking a corner at No. 6, I can understand where you're coming from. If not at No. 6, then target one at No. 18. Cornerback is one of Detroit's biggest needs this offseason in my opinion, and it's hard not to be impressed with some of the elite players in this group. Grab one early.
Shore up the defensive front
We discussed the secondary, now let's talk about the defensive front. The Lions could stand to add to the defensive interior, and who knows? That could come with the No. 6 overall pick. John Cominsky and Isaiah Buggs are free agents, and Michael Brockers is a cut candidate. The Lions hit on Alim McNeill, but it remains to be seen what Levi Onwuzurike's ceiling is. He didn't play at all this past season due to injury. At the very least, the Lions need depth here.
With how coach Campbell operates and Holmes being a former defensive tackle himself, there's a reason why many mock drafts are predicting the Lions take a defensive lineman in the first round. Hitting on a couple of these guys can totally reshape your defense. Just look at the Washington Commanders. Their two defensive tackles and two pass rushers were all taken with top 20 picks, and it's a big reason why their defense has statistically been a top three unit in two out of the past three seasons. Winning in the trenches is important, and the Lions understand this.
Add a tight end
Sure, Shane Zylstra caught three touchdowns in a single game this season and some believe James Mitchell has big potential, but T.J. Hockenson still finished as the Lions' leading tight end in receiving yards despite playing just seven games before being dealt to the Minnesota Vikings at the trade deadline.
Tight end is not the biggest need for the Lions, but I think adding a young piece who could serve as another versatile playmaker for Jared Goff would make this a perfect draft for the Lions. If we want to discuss a few prospects who aren't at the top of the tight end class, Davis Allen out of Clemson is a former basketball player who lined up in several different positions for the Tigers and knows how to high-point a ball in tight coverage. Cameron Latu from Alabama is a former defensive end whose versatility has certainly stood out. He's learned the position quickly, and while he's not a Day 1 TE, his best football days may be ahead of him.