We’re still a solid four months out from the 2023 NFL Draft, so any mock draft at this stage should be viewed as a learning tool for fans to familiarize themselves with prospects.
The draft order is still over seven weeks from being finalized—though many teams will know where they pick in the first round in three weeks—and many of the team-prospect pairings are based on reactionary conclusions. Did the Detroit Lions give up a lot of passing yards to the Jets? Here comes help in the secondary. Trade away your top tight end? Expect to see that position linked to Detroit as well.
For now, immerse yourself in the process, learn about a player you might not know, and don’t take things too seriously.
Alright, let’s jump right in.
Lions paired with a QB
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
No. 4: Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports)
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
No. 4: Brentley Weissman (The Draft Network)
No. 13 via trade: Kent Lee Platte (Pro Football Network)
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
No. 4: Luke Easterling (Draft Wire), Ian Cummings (Pro Football Network)
Erik’s thoughts on the quarterbacks
Welcome to quarterback evaluation in the modern NFL. In seven of the eight mocks we evaluated this week, Alabama’s Bryce Young went off the board with the first overall pick. After that, it becomes a matter of preference. In each of the four mock drafts that had the Lions taking a quarterback at pick No. 4, the analyst paired them with the player they deemed QB2 in this class. In Platte’s mock, he had Stroud first off the board and the Lions trading up to acquire Levis, his fourth quarterback selected.
Here’s a look at where each of the four first-round quarterbacks landed in these eight mock drafts (Note: I bolded the cell and number if they were paired with the Lions):
While Young has most analysts' attention as the top option at quarterback, expect this level of disagreement on QB2 through QB4 to last throughout the offseason as each prospect has obvious flaws but also untapped potential. Like with NFL general managers, each analyst’s preference is going to vary.
Richardson, a redshirt sophomore who just declared, is likely going to be the quarterback that sees the most variance early in the process. He may end up having the highest ceiling of the group because of his size, arm strength, and intangibles, but he is also so raw, he could just as easily be a bust candidate. There will be strong opinions about him.
Lions Non-QB 1st round picks
Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
No. 4: Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)
Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
No. 4: Brian Johannes (The Huddle Report)
No. 5: Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)
No. 8 after a trade down: Kent Lee Platte (Pro Football Network)
No. 18: Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports), Brentley Weissman (The Draft Network)
Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
No. 18: Luke Easterling (Draft Wire), Ian Cummings (Pro Football Network)
Christopher Smith, S, Georgia
No. 18: Brian Johannes (The Huddle Report)
Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State
No. 18: Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
No. 18: Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)
First off, if two quarterbacks come off the board within the first four picks and one of the two top defenders (Jalen Carter, or in Edwards’ mock, Anderson) is available, I fully expect the Lions to jump all over that. But I’m probably not telling you something you didn’t already know.
Where things get interesting is if both Carter and Anderson are gone, only one quarterback is off the board, and the Lions don’t opt for a signal-caller. We saw that happen in round-up 2.0, with the Lions dipping into Clemson’s defensive line, but this week, it was Georgia cornerback Ringo who got his number called.
Ringo, once thought to be the consensus top corner, is not as much of a sure thing anymore. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler lists Ringo as his CB1, PFF puts him as CB2, while The Draft Network has him as CB4. Regardless of where he is ranked, stylistically he fits what the Lions do, so pairing him with Detroit is logical.
Branch is another defensive back that has been mocked to the Lions recently, and like Ringo, it makes sense based on talent and potential need. The difference is, while Ringo is an outside corner, Branch would be a dynamic slot option, who is an ideal fit in the Will Harris role.
Smith, Verse, and Mayer are good players but I don’t necessarily like the fit in Detroit. Grabbing another pure safety in the first seems a bit like overkill at a position that seems to have its long-term starters on the roster. Verse is fun, but he is also an open end, which would mean shifting Aidan Hutchinson, and I’m not sure the Lions would want to do that with any player not named Will Anderson. And finally, Mayer. Don't get me wrong, he is plenty talented, but this franchise doesn’t seem to value the position as much as analysts think, or they probably would have found a way to make things work with T. J. Hockenson.