If you’ve been following along with Erik Schlitt’s excellent Mock Draft Roundup series for every Saturday of the last 10 weeks, you’ve likely familiarized yourself with the most commonly mocked players to the Detroit Lions at both 6 and 18 overall. That first pick is typically either a quarterback or a defender like Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Breese, Texas Tech edge defender Tyree Wilson or whoever the top cornerback of the week is (Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon or Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, most recently).
Pick 18 has been all over the place, whether it’s another defender, Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, or even the occasional tight end or running back.
However, Todd McShay’s latest mock draft—his second of the year—is a little bit off the beaten path. They’re not unprecedented picks, but I think these selections would likely surprise some Lions fans on draft day. Let’s take a closer look:
Pick 6: Clemson DE Myles Murphy
This isn’t exactly a huge surprise of a selection. Though no one made this pick in our latest Mock Draft Roundup, three different mocks paired Murphy with the Lions in the previous week’s installment. Here’s what McShay had to say about the pick:
I think Detroit sticks with Jared Goff and uses this pick on a porous defensive unit. I considered a cornerback, but Murphy has a much higher grade than my CB1 — and the defense needs support at multiple positions. It couldn’t stop anyone last season, allowing a league-high 6.2 yards per play. Adding Murphy’s speed off the edge to a group that already includes 2022 first-rounder Aidan Hutchinson and surprise rookie standout James Houston immediately moves the defense forward.
Clemson notoriously produces a farm of elite defensive linemen and the group from the 2022 campaign appears to be no different. Murphy has racked up 14.5 sacks and a whopping 25.5 tackles for loss over the past two seasons.
Clemson EDGE Myles Murphy is the player that NFL teams think Travon Walker is.— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) May 7, 2022
Remember this tweet heading into the 2023 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/ktqVijywoT
Murphy’s best trait may be his arm length, and you’ll see him exploit that advantage all over his highlight reel.
Easy power with the long arm from Clemson EDGE Myles Murphy pic.twitter.com/LodVjLaUz8— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) July 12, 2022
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for his athletic profile. His also big (6-foot-5, 275 pounds) and has way more athleticism than meets the eye.
Impressive rep by #Clemson RDE Myles Murphy, showing off his recognition skills and smooth athleticism.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) August 8, 2022
Early preview of the EDGE prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft: https://t.co/7Tg193bUga pic.twitter.com/zj3J4IUalq
In McShay’s scenario, Murphy is actually already the third edge defender off the board at six, with Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. to the Cardinals with Pick 3 and Tyree Wilson to the Seahawks at five.
The Lions’ future at the edge position is in flux, as Detroit faces difficult decisions with two players in particular. Romeo Okwara is set to cost $14.5 million against the cap and is still working his way back from the Achilles injury he suffered in 2021. Charles Harris took a step back last season and will cost the Lions nearly $8 million against the cap. Detroit can recoup $7 million if they decide to cut Okwara and nearly $4 million if they release Harris.
But if they even decide to keep one of those players, the edge defender room becomes quite crowded. Aidan Hutchinson, James Houston, Josh Paschal, and Julian Okwara are all under contract, and John Cominsky seems like an inevitable re-signing.
So does a pick like Murphy become redundant, or will the Lions build under the philosophy that you can never have too many edge defenders?
Pick 18: Georgia CB Kelee Ringo
Early in the draft process, Ringo was being hailed as someone who could be Detroit’s pick with the sixth overall selection. However, after struggling in the SEC Championship and the College Playoff Semifinals vs. Ohio State’s talented receiving corps, he has dropped significantly among this year’s deep cornerback class. In McShay’s mock, he is the fourth corner off the board, with Joey Porter Jr. (14th pick), Devon Witherspoon (16th), and Christian Gonzalez (17th) all coming off the board before Ringo.
Here’s more from McShay:
There will be a lot of opinions about his game, but Ringo has a lot of upside. He has speed and length, and he’s very good in press coverage. Plus, he hauled in two interceptions in each of his seasons at Georgia. Jeff Okudah has flashed the traits that made him the No. 3 pick in 2020, but even if he takes the next step, Amani Oruwariye is a free agent, leaving the other outside corner spot wide open.
No one will deny that cornerback is a huge need for the Lions, which is why many mockers are sending Detroit help with the sixth overall pick instead of waiting to use their second first-round pick on one. As for Ringo himself, the size (6-foot-2, 210) sticks out the most. He uses that advantage as an extremely solid press corner who isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty in run defense. For a Lions defense that relies heavily on man and required their defensive backs to tackle, those are two traits that will undeniably get general manager Brad Holmes’ attention.
Cedric Tilman vs Kelee Ringo pic.twitter.com/icabbUogcJ— khi (@SolidKhi1) February 10, 2023
And despite that size, Ringo may be one of the fastest defensive backs in this class. He set records in high school as a track athlete and is expected to ball out at the NFL Combine.
However, it all hasn’t come together on the field. His change of direction isn’t the smoothest due to stiff hips, and despite having an elite athletic profile, his production—15 pass breakups and four interceptions in two years combined—leaves you wanting more.