The Detroit Lions have won two games in a row, and I can already hear the grumbling of some fans lamenting the loss of a potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. And while, yes, the Lions are now far less likely to assume that spot—and potentially grab the best player (or quarterback) in next year’s class, I’m here to tell you that the outlook for Detroit’s 2022 draft capital is still very optimistic.
Thank you, Los Angeles Rams.
Let’s take a look at where Detroit’s first five picks in the 2023 NFL Draft stand after 10 weeks of the season.
Rams pick: 8th overall (up 4 spots)
The Rams (3-6) are in free fall, having lost five of their last six games. You could blame Sunday’s loss—a home bout against their divisional rival Cardinals—on the absence of Matthew Stafford, who was going through concussion protocol. Only one problem, though: Arizona was without Kyler Murray, too.
It’s unclear how long Stafford will be out, but the news doesn’t appear good for his No. 1 option Cooper Kupp. The Rams receiver suffered a high ankle sprain that will almost certainly hold him out for multiple weeks.
LA hasn’t scored 20 points in three weeks and they have only scored more than 20 points just twice all season. They’re 29th in points scored, 28th in overall DVOA, and they have four games remaining against teams with winning records. Playoffs seem like a long shot, given that LA has a 3-5 record in the conference, a 1-3 record in the division, and according to Football Outsiders, just a 3.9 percent chance at the postseason.
Rams’ next game: at Saints (3-7)
Lions pick: 11th overall (down 6 spots)
After back-to-back wins, the Lions have gone from first overall pick to just outside the top 10. There’s an opportunity to shoot right back into the top five fairly quickly, as there are currently nine three-win teams, including the Carolina Panthers (3-7) who currently hold the third overall pick spot.
In fact, Football Outsiders has odds for finishing with a top-five pick, and it turns out the Rams’ pick has a much better chance of landing in that range:
Current odds to receive a top 5 draft pick ⚖️ pic.twitter.com/RSJJu5MivU— Football Outsiders (@fboutsiders) November 14, 2022
A 31.2 percent change at a top-five pick seems pretty nice. But here’s the thing, that does not include the chance that Detroit’s own first-round pick lands in the top five. If you go to Football Outsiders’ website, it shows that pick’s chance at being in the top five at 16.1 percent. While you can’t exactly mathematically just combine those two percentages, that does show just how possible it still is for the Lions to land premier draft capital.
In fact, if you want to be super optimistic, there’s certainly some overlap for an outside chance Detroit gets two top-five picks. So you tanking fans can rest a little easier tonight.
Lions second-round pick: 42nd overall (down 6)
Note: A reminder that every pick beyond the first round is actually one selection higher due to the Dolphins’ forfeited first-round pick. Original order is still listed to avoid confusion.
Remember that in subsequent rounds, teams with the same record will change order—with those at the bottom of the order (due to strength of schedule) jumping up one spot until they’re at the front of the line. So while Detroit was last in line among the five teams (Broncos, Rams, Browns, Steelers) with 3-6 records, they are fourth in line in Round 2.
Vikings’ second-round pick: 62nd overall (no change)
I don’t know what kind of black magic they have in Minnesota (8-1) this year, but this is crazy. Game 2 in their four-game gauntlet is a trip to Dallas against an angry Cowboys team.
Vikings next game: at Dallas (6-3)
Lions third-round pick: 72nd overall (down 5)
The Lions still have five picks in the top 75. Not bad.