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Detroit Lions mock draft roundup 5.0: Breaking down top DB prospects

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

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Kansas State at Alabama Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions still have one more game remaining in the regular season, but it never hurts to start gathering information for the offseason. As we do each week, we update you with the latest trends in our 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 tp 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 over the past week, we will also provide commentary that points to trends, player fits, and overall team philosophy.

Alright, let’s jump right in.

Quarterback

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Note: Trapasso has paired the Lions with Stroud in all five editions of our mock draft round-ups, regardless of if the Lions were picking at No. 4, 6, or 7.

Note: Platte has Detroit trading both picks No. 6 and 17 to the Cardinals in order to move up to No. 4 and select Stroud.

Erik’s thoughts

I’m not sold that the Lions are going into this draft looking for a quarterback, but if they fall in love with a signal caller, it is entirely possible they make the move. For me, after finishing the regular season with postseason aspirations, utilizing those first-round draft picks on other positions of need could have a much greater impact on the roster as a whole, and could further push them toward their long-term goals.

Other offensive pairings

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Pick No. 17: Jordan Reid (ESPN)

“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,” —Reid.

O’Cyrus Torrence, RG, Florida

Pick No. 17: Brian Bosarge (Draft Countdown)

“One could argue that Torrence is the best overall OL in this class. He is another culture pick in Detroit,” — Bosarge

Erik’s thoughts

The argument here is that the Lions would be getting the top player at their position group and could potentially push their offense to another level. Taking a running back goes against traditional draft pick value, but at the same time, this offense would be pretty unstoppable with Robinson in the backfield. As far as Torrence, he would be the final piece in the offensive line puzzle and would give them an elite unit that features four first-round picks.

Defensive line early

Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

Pick No 6: Brian Bosarge (Draft Countdown)

I did not think the Lions pick from the Rams would be higher than their own before the season, but here we are. Jared Goff has played well enough to offset the immediate need at QB. Carter fill fit in great with the defense that is being put together in the Motor City,” — Bosarge.

Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

Pick No. 6: Jordan Reid (ESPN), Luke Easterling (Draft Wire), Mike Tanier (Football Outsiders), Eddie Brown (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Pick No. 17: Doug Farrar (Touchdown Wire), Joe Broback (Pro Football Network)

The Prospect: Breese is an interior-gap defender with a quick first step and strong/active hands. He can be a Javon Hargrave-like disruptor along the defensive line, particularly on passing downs, though his health history bears monitoring: Breese missed most of 2021 with an ACL tear and was hospitalized with a kidney infection for part of 2022.

“The Lions Situation: Combine Breese, Aidan Hutchinson, and fast-rising star James Houston and the Lions could have a top-five pass rush in 2023,” — Tanier.

Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

Pick No. 6: Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)

Edge rusher is not at the top of Detroit’s list of needs but Myles Murphy is the best prospect available in my eyes. They could consider a Peter Skoronski to solidify the interior offensive line but they take a talented player and worry about how they are going to divvy out snaps later.”

Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

Pick No. 6: Kyle Crabbs (Draft Network)

“The Lions pick up a scheme and front-versatile defensive lineman with explosive qualities to pair with Aidan Hutchinson in the team’s bid to formulate a winning program. And boy, oh boy, do I love the thought of Hutchinson and Tyree Wilson, with their physical gifts, prowling the same line together,” — Crabbs.

Erik’s thoughts

Carter remains the dream, and if things break the right way it’s possible he slides, but right now Bresee seems like a more realistic option at defensive tackle for the Lions at No. 6. It is interesting to see Bresee ranked as low as No. 17, and a lot of that likely has to do with recent injuries, but as I mentioned in my breakdown of Reid’s draft, I believe those concerns are overblown.

I do also think EDGE remains in play for the Lions after the position's heavy usage this season. After Alabama’s Will Anderson, most people have Murphy (6-foot-5, 275 pounds) and Wilson (6-foot-6, 270 pounds) as the next two off the board and both could make an argument to be EDGE2 in this class. Both players are ideal closed ends and would complement Aidan Hutchinson, Josh Paschal, and James Houston.

Defensive backs shake-up

Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia

Pick No. 6: Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

Pick No. 6: Joe Broback (Pro Football Network)
Pick No. 17: Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)

Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

Pick No. 6: Doug Farrar (Touchdown Wire)
Pick No. 17: Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports), Mike Tanier (Football Outsiders), Eddie Brown (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Brian Branch, NB/S, Alabama

Pick No. 17: Kyle Crabbs (Draft Network), Luke Easterling (Draft Wire)

“The Lions’ defensive resurgence at the midway point of the season wasn’t seen coming by many, but I’d like to see the team ensure it’s no fluke. Adding a versatile defender like Brian Branch into the mix is one good way to make sure the Lions have all the weapons in the world needed defensively to have potent stopping power week in and week out,” — Crabbs.

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Pick No. 17: Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)

“Witherspoon had a great season for the Illini, and while there will be questions about his slight frame, you wouldn’t know it watching him play.”

Erik’s thoughts

This year’s corner class is not as clear-cut in the rankings as originally thought.

After getting beat up on by Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. in the college football playoff, it’s highly likely Ringo’s stock will take a hit, as some of his noticeable flaws were further exposed on the big stage. There might be five or six defensive backs that end up going in the first round—and Ringo will be in that mix—but there’s no clearly defined leader as illustrated by the inclusion of Gonzalez and Porter at pick No. 6.

While Ringo, Gonzalez, and Porter—all outside corners who measure 6-foot-2 and at least 200 pounds—are competing to rise to the top of this draft class, Alabama’s Brian Branch (6-foot-0, 195 pounds) remains the defensive back I believe has the most appeal for the Lions scheme.

Branch is a combo defensive back, capable of playing traditional safety (both free and strong) and nickel back/slot roles, while also dropping into the box as a nickel linebacker. This is a role that this coaching staff has been slowly introducing with Will Harris this season, and is a role this staff has had success with in previous stops—the clearest example being Aaron Glenn with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in New Orleans.

With Harris potentially heading into free agency this offseason—his contract is set to expire—and the amount of time NFL defenses spend in subpackages, the Lions could be in the market for a playmaker in this role and Branch is the best option in this class.

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