Detroit Lions fans need to start preparing. Maybe not for this year, but they should start preparing.
Because big expectations are coming.
The Lions may have only won three games last year, but the organization has received some serious praise for how they’ve been managed over the last 16 months. Head coach Dan Campbell assembled a well-respected coaching staff and gained national attention for how competitive the Lions were for most of the 2021 season, including a nice stretch at the end of the season to finish 3-3 over the final six games.
General manager Brad Holmes found a couple potential elite pieces in his first draft (Penei Sewell, Amon-Ra St. Brown)—a consensus top-10 draft class. He followed it up last week with an aggressive draft that found Detroit landing two top-12 picks for the first time in over 70 years for the franchise. This draft received even more media praise than the last, earning top-five grades by many.
But Holmes isn’t only getting praise from the media. Inside the NFL circles, the Lions' general manager is starting to turn heads. Over at The Athletic, writer Mike Sando talked to NFL executives about each team’s draft haul in 2022. Here’s what one had to say about Detroit.
“I feel like this is the best I have seen Detroit draft in a long time,” an exec said. “I do not love all their picks. I did not love taking the Kentucky kid, who makes their defense slower, but more than in the past I felt like Detroit made moves that were football-intelligent.”
Josh Paschal slight aside (who isn’t even slow), that’s high praise for Holmes. There’s been a lot of pressure on the first-time general manager, seeing as he’s had a lot of valuable draft capital to work with. Thus far, though, he seems to have earned the fans’, media’s, and league’s respect.
There are other passing references to what the Lions did. One NFL executive actually believes Minnesota won the trade with Detroit, because “my curve is pretty flat and the Vikings got that third-round pick.” Another raved about the selection of Alabama receiver Jameson Williams.
“I’m a big Jameson Williams fan — that speed, wow,” one executive said. “We were talking about Atlanta getting Drake London. Jameson Williams looks exciting. The Atlanta guy does not excite you in the same way.”
It’s hard not to get caught up in the hype. I mean, when national media is writing things like this...
“This team is going places and still has two first-rounders to think about for 2023. You are allowed to be excited about the future of the Lions.” https://t.co/UWxlywP19K— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) May 1, 2022
... you know you’re doing something right.