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Detroit Lions mock draft roundup 6.0: Defense dominates top of Lions draft

Taking a closer look at the prospects from the 2023 NFL Draft that have been projected to the Detroit Lions over the past week.

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The Detroit Lions 2022-23 season is unfortunately behind us, coming to a close in spectacular fashion by beating the Green Bay Packers and securing a second-place finish in the NFC North.

As much fun as the Lions' 8-2 finish to the season was, they’ve now established themselves as contenders in 2023, and with that comes expectations. In order to stay competitive and in the mix for the North next season, general manager Brad Holmes will need to, once again, uncover gems in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Curious about who some of those gems might be? Well, welcome to POD’s weekly mock draft roundup.

If you’re not familiar with how the roundup works, each week we will collect data from the latest expert mock drafts published over the last seven days and compile them (with links to the original pieces) in one easy-to-access article. In addition to providing Lions’ fans with the names of prospects being paired with Detroit, we will also provide commentary that points to trends, player fits, and overall team philosophy.

Alright, let’s jump right in.

Quarterback

Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

No. 1: Doug Farrar (Touchdown Wire)
No. 6: Charles McDonald (Yahoo Sports)

Erik’s Thoughts: Farrar believes Young is good enough for the Lions to trade up for (Farrar’s trade parameters: Lions give up picks 6 and 18 in 2023, and a first-round pick in 2024 for the Bears' No. 1 pick), while McDonald has him as his third quarterback off the board. But regardless of ranking, both have one thought process in common in making this pairing: neither believes Goff can help the Lions take the next step.

“If the Lions are to get to the next level under Dan Campbell, and they appear to have just about everything else in place to do so, perhaps the move is to entice the Bears with enough draft capital to move up and get a truly transcendent player at the game’s most important position.” — Farrar

“Jared Goff has performed well enough as the Lions’ quarterback, but they need a smidge more to really put them among the NFL’s elite. Bryce Young is small for a quarterback prospect, but he has all the skills that teams look for in their franchise quarterback.” — McDonald

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

No. 6: Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports)

Erik’s Thoughts: This is the sixth consecutive week (since we have been tracking) that Trapasso has paired the Lions with Stroud. If Stroud does indeed stay in college because the NIL money affords him that luxury, I wonder which QB Trapasso will shift gears toward. It could easily be Kentucky’s Will Levis, but my bet is the next guy on this list will be in the conversation.

Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

No. 18: J.P. Acosta (SB Nation), Derrik Klassen (Bleacher Report Scouting department), Ben Natan (Bleeding Green Nation)

“Richardson could use a year of development, and there’s no better destination for him to do so than Detroit. Richardson has an unmatched athletic profile in this quarterback class. At 6’4” and 232 pounds, the 21-year-old is built like a slightly thinner Cam Newton and sports similar athletic tools, both in his mobility and arm strength. Richardson also plays with excellent pocket management and awareness. He’s not nearly as inconsistent of a processor as his one-year-starter status suggests” — Derrik Klassen

Erik’s Thoughts: If the Lions were going to invest in a quarterback, Richardson might be the guy because he may end up with the highest upside in this class, but also could flame out, which is why he could fall to pick No. 18. He’s a lot of fun to watch, and the natural skill set is sensational, but he is still very raw and that may be a bit too unpredictable for Holmes liking.

Other offensive pairings

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

No. 18: Michael Renner (PFF)

Quentin Johnson, WR, TCU

No. 6: James Fragoza (Pro Football Network)
No. 18: Jamie Eisner (The Draft Network)

Jordan Addison, WR, USC

No. 18: Oliver Hodgkinson (Pro Football Network)

Erik’s Thoughts: All three skill players have an argument to be the top prospect at their position in this NFL Draft cycle. And as I argued last week, that is probably the best selling point for the Lions to consider when thinking about taking any offensive player in the first round. They better be an instant game-changer, otherwise the Lions would likely be better served spending their high draft picks on the defensive side of the ball.

Defense

Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

No. 6: T.J. McCreight (The 33rd Team), Luke Easterling (Draft Wire), Michael Renner (PFF), Shane Hallam (Draft Countdown), Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz (USA Today), Oliver Hodgkinson (Pro Football Network)

Erik’s Thoughts: Of the 17 mock drafts looked at this week, Bresee got the most projections to the Lions at pick No. 6 overall, and it’s easy to understand why. The Lions need interior pass rushers, as well as a solid complement to Alim McNeill, and Bresee checks both those boxes.

“The Lions need to keep investing in a defense that is one of the NFL’s youngest. They’ve already found a pair of edge rushers in Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston IV, and now they form an exciting defensive tackle duo with Bresee sliding into the three-technique role with Alim McNeill at nose. Bresee came back from a torn ACL to earn a career-high 82.0 pass-rushing grade in 2022.” — Renner

Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

No. 6: Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)

Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

No. 6: Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)
No. 18: Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News)

Erik’s Thoughts: After investing in three edge rushers last draft, adding another may seem like overkill, but you can never have too many pass rushers and both Murphy and Wilson would be excellent additions. Additionally, adding another player with the size/skill set to play the closed end side, lessens the need for an interior player, as the Lions' edge rushers spend a lot of time inside on pass rushing downs.

Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

No. 18: Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports)

Erik’s Thoughts: He’s not a traditional linebacker, but Simpson is loaded with range and coverage ability. If the Lions plan on selecting him, they’ll need a plan on how to use him because of his non-traditional skill set.

Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

No. 6: Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News), Ben Natan (Bleeding Green Nation)

Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

No. 6: J.P. Acosta (SB Nation), Cory Giddings (Bleacher Report Scouting department)
No. 18: Charles McDonald (Yahoo Sports)

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

No. 6: Jamie Eisner (The Draft Network)
No. 18: Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports), Josh Edwards (CBS Sports), T.J. McCreight (The 33rd Team), Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz (USA Today), James Fragoza (Pro Football Network)

Erik’s Thoughts: All three of these outside corners were paired with the Lions at pick No. 6, which speaks to how unsettled cornerback is at the top of this class. But if the Lions end up addressing the secondary at pick No. 18, Gonzalez seems to be the overwhelming favorite at this time. Adding a player in the secondary seems very logical, but if the Lions wait until pick No. 18, there is one other player who has become a strong favorite of mine...

Brian Branch, DB, Alabama

No. 18: Luke Easterling (Draft Wire), Shane Hallam (Draft Countdown)

Erik’s Thoughts: I’ve been touting Branch for a few weeks now and for good reason. A hybrid defensive back who can live in the slot, drop back into a safety role, or push up into the box, Branch would give the Lions some incredible flexibility on defense.