The 2022 NFL Draft is over, so naturally, it’s time to start talking about the 2023 NFL Draft. The Detroit Lions have two first-round selections in next year’s draft, so it could be just as exciting as this ye—
Okay, I can’t do it. I can’t feign interest in doing a 2023 NFL mock draft. It’s absolutely ridiculous to do this time of year. Need proof? Let’s look at last year’s way-too-early mock drafts. Popular first-round picks for the Lions: QB Sam Howell (fifth-round pick), QB Kedon Slovis (struggled in 2021 and transferred to Pitt), QB Spencer Rattler (benched in 2021, transferred to South Carolina), and QB Malik Willis (third-round pick). One mock did have Kayvon Thibodeaux as Detroit’s second overall pick, so that’s something.
If there is any value to these mocks [there isn’t], it’s a brief introduction to 2023 scouting, for those of you that spend a full year preparing for the draft. So again my better judgement, let’s take a look at some way-too-early mock drafts and some players Lions fans should be keeping their eyes on.
And before you get mad about where the Lions are picking in these mocks drafts, each author made it clear that draft order was determined by 2022 Super Bowl odds. That put the Lions somewhere between Pick 2 and 4, depending on the sportsbook used.
Pick 3 — Alabama QB Bryce Young
As you will see, this is the most common player mocked to the Lions thus far in the process. In this mock, Young was the second quarterback off the board after the Texans took Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, while the Falcons passed on quarterback for Alabama edge defender Will Anderson.
As for Young, he’s currently coming off his first full season as a sophomore starter. He racked up a ridiculous 4,872 passing yards (second in NCAA) and 47 touchdowns (2nd) to just seven interceptions on his way to the Heisman.
He’s a bit undersized (just 6-foot, 194 pounds), but he’s got a live, accurate arm. He’s got plenty of athleticism to navigate the pocket well and extend plays, even though he rarely tucked and ran.
After the success that Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase had reuniting with the Bengals after playing in college together, it’s not hard to imagine Young reconnecting with Jameson Williams in a similar manner with the Lions.
Pick 28 — Alabama LB Henry To’o To’o
To’o To’o certainly fits what appears to still be a significant need for Detroit. A two-year starter with the Tennessee Volunteers, To’o To’o transferred to Alabama for the 2021 season and thrived in the spotlight, earning 111 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss.
At 6-foot-2, 228 pounds, To’o To’o is the electric fast linebacker with an aggressive streak that would be an ideal fit in Detroit.
Pick 3 — OSU QB C.J. Stroud
The Lions land the consensus top quarterback in this mock after the Texans select Anderson and the Falcons go Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Though it seems unlikely both teams pass on a quarterback, let’s get to know Stroud.
He’s only started one year at Ohio State after being stuck behind Justin Fields his rookie season. However, Stroud was a playmaker in 2021. With a ridiculous 71.9 completion percentage, Stroud’s box score wasn’t too far off from Young’s: 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Like Young, he has plenty of mobility, but prefers to slide in the pocket over running the ball. Unlike Young, he has no size concerns (6-foot-3). If he can build on a fantastic 2021 season, there’s a good chance he’ll solidify himself as the No. 1 pick.
Pick 29 — Clemson DT Tyler Davis
It wouldn’t be all that surprising to see the Lions invest even more in their defensive front, especially since Michael Brockers may not be on the team in 2023. With a quick first step and a frame that’s hard to move, Davis likely projects as a 3-tech run defender with serious pass rushing upside (6.5 sacks in 2019). If Levi Onwuzurike doesn’t take a Year 2 jump and the Lions still lack an interior pass rush, Davis could be an intriguing pick.
Pick 2 — Alabama QB Bryce Young
Young is the pick here after Stroud goes first to the Texans.
Pick 28 — Alabama DT Byron Young
Another defensive tackle prospect, Young has worked his way up from rotational player in 2019 to starter in 2021. Young doesn’t bring the proven pass rush that Davis does, but after 7.5 tackles for loss last year, he would bring a polished player who can stop the run.
Pick 4 — Florida QB Anthony Richardson
Many have wondered what the Lions will do if they’re not in a position to grab one of the top two quarterbacks in the 2023 class. Schottey provides a third option here.
Anthony Richardson is an unproven talent at this point, but he’s got a lot of physical tools that could lead to a big year at Florida in 2022. Last year, the Gators gave the keys to Emory Jones, but the quarterback struggled and entered the transfer portal in the offseason. Richardson only threw 64 passes last season, and it was a very mixed back (six touchdowns, five interceptions).
So why would Richardson go so highly in next year’s draft? He put on a show at Florida’s spring game, displaying his athleticism and talented arm. However, Richardson does have an injury history, including requiring knee surgery this offseason.
Right now, Richardson would be a huge risk, but if the traits lead to a promising 2022 season at Florida, he could catapult into conversation.
Pick 29 — Alabama S Jordan Battle
Detroit waited until late Round 3 to grab a safety, and Kerby Joseph may need some time to develop into a starter. The Lions wouldn’t have to wait for Battle to jump into the starting lineup.
Highest graded SEC Safeties in zone coverage last season— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 4, 2022
1️⃣ Lewis Cine: 87.3
2️⃣ Jordan Battle: 87.0
3️⃣ Smoke Monday: 80.9 pic.twitter.com/KFjbbthPUg
Battle has fantastic coverage instincts (three interceptions last year), and he isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty in the run game. He’s already got 32 starts under his belt and his return to Alabama in 2022 was a bit of surprise considering he was considered a Day 2 pick. If Battle takes his game to the next level this season, he’ll get first-round buzz.
Pick 2 — Alabama QB Bryce Young
Again, Stroud is the first quarterback off the board, as the Lions “settle” for Young.
Pick 28 — LSU DT Jaquelin Roy
At 6-foot-3, 315 pounds, Roy is a run stuffer by nature. In 2021, as a rotational player with a handful of starts, he tallied 30 tackles and 6.0 tackles for loss. Some believe there’s some pass rush upside to Roy, but he’ll have to show it on the field next year.