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Detroit Lions mock draft roundup 8.0: New players enter the mix at pick No. 18

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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Fresno State v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

If you’re not familiar with how the Detroit Lions roundup works, each week we 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 also provide commentary that points to trends, player fits, and overall team philosophy.

Alright, let’s jump right in.


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Erik’s Thoughts:

For the second week in a row, the Lions have not had a quarterback mocked to them at pick No. 6. For the first time since we began this year’s roundup, no quarterbacks were paired with the Lions at any spot. I think this is a sign that mock drafters are paying attention to the fact that the Lions coaches and front office have essentially backed Jared Goff for 2023, but it will be interesting to see if perspectives change as we get deeper into the offseason.

As long as Goff’s contract is set to expire after the 2024 season, it’s fair to speculate about what the Lions will do in the future. That means quarterback talk isn’t going away.

Offensive skill players

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

No. 18: C.J. Doon (Baltimore Sun)

Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

No. 18: Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports)

Kincaid has a first-round athletic profile and awesome film at Utah. He steps into the vacancy filled by the T.J. Hockenson trade.” — Trapasso

Erik’s Thoughts:

We are eight installments deep in this year’s roundup series and every time an offensive skill player was paired with the Lions, they were the first player at their position off the board. That holds true with Robinson—who seems to be paired with the Lions at No. 18 by a mock drafter each week—but Kincaid is the first to break this pattern. In Trapasso's mock draft, he had Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer off the board at No. 14, then gave Kincaid—his apparent TE2 in this class—to Detroit.

This is a loaded tight end class and Kincaid (6-foot-4, 240 pounds) seems like he has a real chance at being a top-50 pick. That being said, he’s a pass catching tight end with minimal pass blocking experience, which might make him a more challenging sell for this coaching staff, especially with pick No. 18.

In general, I understand mock drafters' tendencies to want to replace T.J. Hockenson on the Lions roster, but attacking the position in the first round seems to go against their philosophy at the position. The Lions were very content rolling with the tight ends that remained after the Hockenson trade. While the team will certainly add competition, expect those players to have a strong background in blocking, which is a priority for this staff.

Defense tackle

Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

No. 6: Natalie Miller (Draft Wire)

Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

No. 6: Bucky Brooks (, Luke Easterling (Draft Wire), Marcus Mosher (PFF), Shane Hallam (Draft Countdown), Ian Cummings (Pro Football Network), Matt Urben (Falcons Wire)

Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida

No. 18: Joe Broback (Pro Football Network)

Dan Campbell already has the Lions ahead of schedule, and the defense has the potential to be a dominant group. They’re an energetic and talented unit that flies around the field every week. Now they add a player that is a force up the middle.

“If he can do it consistently, Gervon Dexter will be a dominant force up the middle. At 6’6″, 315 pounds, Dexter has the natural power and strength to make NFL offensive linemen look like they’re still in high school. He’s not the most athletic interior defender, but he makes up for that with those natural abilities.” — Broback

Erik’s Thoughts:

Carter is a “run the card up to the podium” type of player, and Bresee remains one of the most popular players to pair with the Lions, but Dexter is making his first appearance in the roundup series.

Dexter has the size/length/power that will be very appealing to the Lions. While he had some positional versatility at Florida—he played at the 1- and 3-technique, with some sprinkles of edge—he will have to get more fundamentally sound to continue that range in the NFL. Expect Dexter to start at the 3T and expand his game from there.

I like Dexter quite a bit, but he is more of a Day 2 option in my eyes. If the Lions were determined to pick a defensive tackle at this spot—and Carter and Bresee were off the board—I think they might prefer someone like Siaki Ika (nose tackle, Baylor). Ika (6-foot-4, 354 pounds) is a pure nose that would complement Alim McNeill and would allow Detroit to keep Alim at the 3T.

Edge Rusher

Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

No. 6: Mel Kiper (ESPN), Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)
No. 18: Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News)

Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

No. 6: Albert Breer (MMQB), Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)
No. 9: Damian Parson (Draft Network) — Trade: Detroit gets picks No. 9 and No. 93, and 2024 1st-round pick, Carolina gets pick No. 6

Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

No. 18: Ian Cummings (Pro Football Network)

The Lions have something with Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston on the edge. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get even stronger. Lukas Van Ness is an absolute powerhouse against tackles, but he can also rotate inside and give Detroit valuable flexibility.” — Cummings

Erik’s Thoughts:

If the Lions opt to address the edge rusher position at pick No. 6, Wilson and Murphy have consistently been the top options after Will Anderson (Alabama). Occasionally, mock drafters have suggested the Lions might consider an edge player at No. 18, typically picking between Wilson and Murphy. But Van Ness, who makes his first appearance in the roundup, is a player that is starting to get more love in the draft community. We expect to see Van Ness in more and more mock drafts going forward.

Van Ness (6-foot-5, 270 pounds) would surely play the closed end role if he ended up on the Lions roster, setting up over the tight end, with the ability to kick inside in pass rushing situations. He has power for days and is a perfect style of player to rotate with Josh Paschal, opposite Aidan Hutchinson.


Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

No. 18: Doug Farrar (Touchdown Wire)

“The younger Sewell can do everything from driving running backs back to short and intermediate coverage. Moreover, his combination of athleticism and proper play diagnosis allows him to get to the ball more quickly than a lot of other linebackers at his approximate level.” — Farrar

Erik’s Thoughts:

As a freshman, Noah Sewell jumped onto the scene as a force at linebacker. He looked like he could do it all and was on his way to being a first-round pick. Then in 2022, Oregon made a coaching change, hiring Dan Lanning, who brought on Tosh Lupoi as his defensive coordinator. Lanning and Lupoi brought with them NFL defensive concepts, and the Oregon defense as a whole struggled, including Sewell. Some of the concepts Sewell was asked to do exposed some of his weaknesses. Missed tackles became more common, working laterally in coverage proved challenging, and his instincts looked like liabilities.

The question for evaluators will be projecting how he translates to the NFL. If the version of Sewell we saw in 2022 shows up in the NFL, he’ll probably have a career arc similar to Jahlani Tavai—only productive in a Patriots-style scheme. But if a coaching staff is able to pull out of him what we saw in the years prior, he could be the next Dont’a Hightower—capable of impacting the game from all over the front.

Defensive backs

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

No. 6: Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports), C.J. Doon (Baltimore Sun)
No. 18: Damian Parson (Draft Network), Natalie Miller (Draft Wire), Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)

The Lions’ pursuit to improve their defense continues with their second pick in this NFL mock draft. Dan Campbell loves toughness and physicality, and CB Devon Witherspoon embodies this perfectly. His tackling in space and in run support is better than most CBs that I have studied. Pairing him with Jeff Okudah sounds like a dream come true.” — Parson

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

No. 18: Bucky Brooks (, Mel Kiper (ESPN)

Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

No. 6: Doug Farrar (Touchdown Wire), Joe Broback (Pro Football Network), Pete Fiutak (College Football News)
No. 18: Matt Urben (Falcons Wire)

Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

No. 6: Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News)
No. 18: Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)

Brian Branch, DB, Alabama

No. 18: Luke Easterling (Draft Wire), Marcus Mosher (PFF), Pete Fiutak (College Football News), Shane Hallam (Draft Countdown)

Erik’s Thoughts:

The defensive backs group is still wide open and this cycle of players might only be separated at the top by stylistic preference. For a team that likes to be physical, Witherspoon will be near the top of their rankings. Gonzalez and Porter will appeal to defenses looking for long athletes who can cover. Ringo could be the top guy for Cover-3 defenses like the 49ers/Jets/Seahawks.

Branch could end up being the best of the group, but he will likely slide down draft boards because he is a slot defensive back, as opposed to an outside corner like the rest of the players mentioned. My early assumption, based on league trends, is that Branch gets the Kyle Hamilton treatment from last season. Highly talented and position versatile, but because he plays off-the-ball, he will slide into the No. 14-20 pick range.

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