2023 mock draft season is picking up steam. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler kicked things off last week with his first mock draft of the season, we re-started our Lions mock draft roundup series over the weekend, and ESPN’s Todd McShay published his first mock draft on Tuesday.
On Thursday, The 33rd Team got in on the action. If you’re not familiar with The 33rd Team, it’s a collection of current and former NFL players (including Lions’ Amon-Ra St. Brown), executives, coaches, and broadcasters that have teamed up to bring a different perspective on how to cover the NFL.
For their draft coverage, T.J. McCreight—former Player Personnel Executive for the Philadelphia Eagles and director of college scouting for the Indianapolis Colts—leads a group of former NFL scouts to produce their first mock draft of the season.
Let’s set the table for the Detroit Lions first pick. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young went off the board first to Houston, followed by Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter to the Seahawks, and the Bears addressed their offensive line by taking Ohio State left tackle Paris Johnson. For those who have been following along with this year's draft coverage, it should be fairly obvious who the Lions were paired with.
Round 1, pick 4 (via Rams): Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
Let’s go right to The 33rd Team for their reasonings for the pick:
“The opportunity to pair Anderson with Aidan Hutchinson is too good to pass up. The Lions need help in the secondary, but there isn’t a corner or safety who merits a pick this high. This is truly a best-available-player pick.
Anderson might be the best player in this draft class, and if the draft played out like this, the Lions would have bookend All-Pro level ceiling studs on the defensive edges. Blessed with elite gifts, Anderson can win in a variety of ways and is a monster both as a pass rusher and against the run.
Will Anderson had one of his best games of the season vs. Mississippi State. 6 QB pressures in the first half, this was one of his best reps. pic.twitter.com/u7uCTWCUoi— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) October 26, 2022
If the Lions were fortunate enough to add Anderson, they would need to make a decision on how to adjust their defensive front. Their simplest option would be to shift Hutchinson back to closed end, then insert Anderson at the open spot, but that would minimize Hutchinson’s impact. Their second option would be to shift the front into a more modern Fangio-style front, where they deploy two down defensive lineman and stand up their edge rushers allowing them to attack from wide angles.
With the Lions’ next pick, The 33rd Team has Detroit selecting...
Round 1, pick 15: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Let’s let The 33rd Team explain their reasonings:
“The Lions continue to load up on defense. Gonzalez has length, speed and production. He needs to finish plays at the catch point more consistently, but he has all the tools NFL teams are looking for.”
The Lions will surely be in the market to add some depth—and a possible starter—to their cornerback group and Gonzalez, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, has the physical traits to succeed as a starter in the NFL. He is a natural outside corner, but he has the quickness to shift inside and cover the slot, and the size to match up with tight ends. He is a plug-and-play player for the Lions scheme.