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2023 NFL mock draft: ESPN gives Detroit Lions help on both sides of the ball

ESPN’s Jordan Reid gives the Detroit Lions an unconventional pick in his first 2023 NFL mock draft.

Iowa State v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

ESPN’s Jordan Reid released his first mock draft of the 2023 NFL season ($ubscription) and he delivers the Detroit Lions help on both sides of the ball—although one of his projections is a bit unconventional.

Let’s jump right in.

Round 1, Pick 6 (via Rams): Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

We restarted our mock draft round-up series a month ago, and as the Rams pick has dropped into the No. 6-7 range, Bresee has become a popular choice among those not projecting a quarterback to the Lions.

Let’s hear from Reid on why he made this projection:

“The Lions have quickly turned into one of the most exciting teams in the league, but their defense still requires a lot of work. Detroit allows 6.3 yards per play and 398.7 yards per game, both last in the NFL. The defensive front has promising young playmakers in Aidan Hutchinson, Alim McNeill and James Houston, but adding Bresee would give the Lions a stout run defender up the middle. He would fit into Detroit’s scheme right away as a 1- or 3-technique, and I already see a pro-ready arsenal of pass-rush moves to complement his heavy hands against the run.”

Pairing the Lions with a defensive tackle is smart business, and at the moment, this seems right in Bresee’s projectable range (the redshirt sophomore has already declared his intentions to enter this draft cycle).

While Georgia’s Jalen Carter gets most of the attention for the position group, Bresee is the clear next-best defensive tackle in this class. But make no mistake, this is not a situation where Reid is simply pairing the Lions with a need, Bresee (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) has legitimate top-10 potential.

The biggest knock on Bresee is that he missed 12 games in the past two seasons, but that gets a bit overblown. Yes, he missed eight games in 2021 due to an ACL tear, but after 11 months of rehab, his knee held up without issue this season and seems to be a non-issue moving forward. His four games missed in 2022 were due to the tragic passing of his 15-year-old sister (cancer), a kidney infection, and strep throat, all understandable circumstances to miss a football game.

Round 1, Pick 18: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Okay, drafting a running back in the first round is sure to drive some people crazy, but let’s hear what Reid had to say about why he made this pairing:

“The improved play of Jared Goff has quieted the need to draft a quarterback of the future, but the key to sustained success from Goff will be keeping top-tier firepower around him. The D’Andre Swift-Jamaal Williams duo has been exciting this season, but it’s possible neither running back is in the team’s long-term plans. Swift has battled durability issues and enters the final year of his deal in 2023, while Williams is set to become a free agent this offseason. Robinson would be a significant upgrade after rushing for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2022. His contact balance and short-area quickness are superb, but he also has dependable hands and can be deployed as a receiver from many alignments.”

Robinson (6-foot-0, 220 pounds) is as complete of a back to enter the NFL since Saquon Barkley, a player he is often compared to. Just searching his highlights, it’s easy to see why. Here are a couple to peruse:

Positional value is really the only argument against Robinson, but if you can get past that, he’d be a ton of fun watching him run behind the Lions' offensive line.

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