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Detroit Lions mock draft roundup 12.0: Daniel Jeremiah breaks down the top options

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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NFL: MAR 02 Scouting Combline Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via 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.

In this week’s installment, we’re going to let NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah do most of the heavy lifting. Not only did the former Baltimore Ravens scout publish a mock draft this week, but he also held a media conference call to discuss the prospects ahead of the NFL Combine.

Alright, let’s jump right into this week’s roundup.

Quarterback

Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

No. 6: Charles McDonald (Yahoo Sports)
No. 18: Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com)

Erik’s Thoughts:

The NFL Draft media is still trying to play catch up with NFL teams and their evaluation of Anthony Richardson. Even Jeremiah has changed his tune after getting feedback about his mock draft from NFL sources.

Here’s what Jeremiah had to say on his media conference call:

“Anthony Richardson is the second quarterback for several teams that I talked to. We can look at the numbers. It doesn’t look great on paper. You look at the accuracy and this, that, and the other; (but) he has elite, elite arm strength. He is a rare athlete. [...] I know it’s a little bit of a roller coaster. I know he hasn’t played a ton, but teams are starting to look at some of these quarterbacks as lottery tickets, and this one has the biggest pay-out. That’s why I think you’re going to see Richardson go pretty high.”

Last Monday, Jeremiah paired the Lions with Richardson in his latest mock draft, but by Friday, Jeremiah acknowledged that while the situation in Detroit would be ideal for Richardson to develop, he now believes Richardson will be off the board earlier than that.

Jeremiah explains:

“The reason I had him there with the Lions is I think sometimes when you have those two picks, I almost don’t want to say it’s a luxury because you’re trying to get good players, but when you look at the landscape of the NFL right now and you look at the high, high-end quarterback play, you know, this gives you an opportunity to take a shot on one of those guys who could be that.

“He is not at that level right now, but ceiling-wise with him and Jared Goff, his ceiling is immensely higher. Jared is a solid steady player right now. He is playing winning football, but I think there is a ceiling on him. With Anthony Richardson, you don’t have a ceiling. That’s why I think you’ll see him go, but I don’t think — in making just calls over the last couple of days, I don’t even think he will get there.”

More offensive players

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

No. 18: Dave Birkett (Free Press), Colton Pouncy (The Athletic), Luke Easterling (Draft Wire)

Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

No. 18: Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports)

Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State

No. 18: Tony Pauline (Pro Football Network)

O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida

No. 18: Kyle Meinke (MLive)

Erik’s Thoughts:

Each week, there seems to be a pattern emerging with the Lions pick No. 18 and offensive skill players. Robinson remains the heavy favorite if the Lions go offense—which we discussed in more detail in last week’s roundup. Tight ends are still popular for those expecting the Lions to try to replace T.J. Hockenson, and Torrence gets some weekly love for those believing the Lions will want to solidify their offensive line. At this time, I believe Robinson remains in play for the Lions, but I’m not as sold on the cost value of any other offensive skill player at pick No. 18.

Here’s Jeremiah on Robinson:

“Everybody says that Bijan Robinson is not only the best running back in this class, he is one of the five best players in this class. He is elite.

“I just don’t know where to put him. You look at all the different needs that these teams have. My philosophy on kind of running backs is I don’t mind taking a running back in the first round, as long as your team is ready to win right now. Because if you take into account the guy has four or five, six years of elite production, I don’t mind getting him in the first round because you get the extra year on the contract. It’s easy to control it. Then I have a franchise tag number if I want, and that could kind of take me through all of his prime. But I don’t want to waste carries on a crappy team. I want to have all of his carries over that five-year period count and help push towards a championship. To take a big-time running back like that and your team stinks, you’re going to waste his prime and it’s not going to do anything for you. That’s the conundrum there with Bijan Robinson. He is, no doubt about it to me, he is one of the premiere, premiere players in the draft.”

Defensive tackle

Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

No. 18: Keith Sanchez (Draft Network), Brianna Dix (Buccaneers.com), Scott Bair (AtlantaFalcons.com), Garrett Podell (CBS Sports), Joe Broback (Pro Football Network)

Erik’s Thoughts:

Defensive tackle and corner are likely the Lions biggest needs this offseason, but after Jalen Carter—who will likely be off the board before pick No. 6—Bresee is the only other interior defensive lineman getting consistent first-round love at this time.

Here’s Jeremiah on Bresee:

“To me he is a tough player to evaluate because you see flashes of it. You see some of the flash its of the quickness. I know he has obviously battled the injuries. I think there’s some stiffness there, and maybe some of it is injury-related, but he is not the most loose athlete.

“(Clemson) moved him around up and down the line of scrimmage, but I didn’t see somebody that was really, really explosive and fluid and loose. I thought he was more of a tight athlete who has some power, but that’s why I think you get into a little bit of a tough evaluation there, and I have talked to teams that really like him, and I have talked to teams that aren’t nearly as high and don’t see him as a first round player.”

Edge Rusher

Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech

No. 6: Dave Birkett (Free Press), Brianna Dix (Buccaneers.com)

Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson

No. 6: Kyle Meinke (MLive), Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com)
No. 9: Josh Edwards (CBS Sports) Lions trade No. 6, acquire terms not specified
No. 18: Nate Davis (USA Today)

Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

No. 18: Ben Raven (MLive), Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)

Erik’s Thoughts:

As more information becomes available on prospects, Wilson appears to have separated from Murphy, Van Ness, and every other edge rusher not named Will Anderson. Fortunately, Jeremiah discussed all three of these edge rushers in his conference call to help elaborate on the edge players.

Here's what he had to say about Wilson:

“I think there’s a lot of buzz around him around the league. I think the league has it with him and Anderson a lot closer than people might think. He’s got just freakish wingspan and burst and the ability to kind of use those long levers to get home. I think he is a really talented rusher. I think he is a big-time athlete.”

Jeremiah on Murphy:

“Myles Murphy is a tricky one because it’s all in there. He has it all in his body. He hasn’t got it all figured out just yet, but between his kind of his combination of length and explosiveness, I think there’s more there. I think he is going to develop more as a rusher. I don’t think he has a great plan at this point in time.”

Jeremiah on Van Ness:

“Then Van Ness, I’m going to end up moving him up in my next update of my top 50. I think I have him at 22 right now. Again, it’s curious when you watch him because he doesn’t start. I know a lot of people are sitting there going, how in the world are you going to take a guy in the top ten? He didn’t start at Iowa. I’ve done my homework. That’s the way their program runs. They’re going to run with the older upperclassmen, the leaders that have been in those spots. They’re just going to roll those guys out there with starters, even though everybody knows this was their best guy. But he has big-time, big-time explosiveness and power. Kind of a bull in a China shop. Again, somebody who is just figuring out, but when you watch him against the best tackles he played against, he got after them.”

Jeremiah’s summary:

“Murphy and Van Ness (are) pretty close. To me, I would have Tyree Wilson ahead of those two guys.”

Linebacker

Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson

No. 18: T.J. McCreight (33rd Team)

Erik’s Thoughts:

There’s no doubt Simpson is a tremendous player with a lot of upside but he also seems more like a luxury pick than a plug-and-play starter. Are the Lions in a spot where they take a defensive specialist? It’s going to be an interesting debate.

Here’s more from Jeremiah on Simpson:

“Sometimes if (Simpson can) get clear sight lines, he can see it, he can go, you will see that burst. He is off the edge. You’ll see him blitz. You will see him chase plays laterally. He has tremendous, tremendous juice. It’s just sometimes in the trash there you kind of get lost a little bit amidst all those bodies. That’s the only knock on him. That’s the only concern.

“I would not be shocked at all if he went in the first round. I know one thing. If you want to — if you are in a division with an athletic quarterback, like if you were in the — if you were in the NFC East with Jalen Hurts and you want to have somebody that can play that role and be a spy and be able to mirror and just close those alleys, this dude is unbelievable when he spies the quarterback.”

Defensive backs

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

No. 6: Ben Raven (MLive), Nate Davis (USA Today), Scott Bair (AtlantaFalcons.com), Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports), Garrett Podell (CBS Sports), Alex Butler (UPI)
No. 9: Luke Easterling (Draft Wire), Lions trade pick No. 6, acquire picks No. 9 and 61
No. 9: Colton Pouncy (The Athletic), Lions trade pick No. 6, acquire picks No. 9 and 94

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

No. 6: Keith Sanchez (Draft Network)
No. 9: Joe Broback (Pro Football Network) Lions trade pick No. 6, acquire No, 9, 39, 61
No. 11: T.J. McCreight (33rd Team) Lions trade pick No. 6, acquire No. 11 and 41

Joey Porter Jr, CB, Penn State

No. 6: Tony Pauline (Pro Football Network), Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)

Brian Branch, NB/S, Alabama

No. 18: Charles McDonald (Yahoo Sports), Alex Butler (UPI)

Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

No. 18: Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)

Erik’s Thoughts:

The Witherspoon hype train has been steadily making a stop in Detroit for weeks now and rightfully so. In Jeremiah’s most recent top-50, he had Witherspoon as his fifth-best player in this draft class.

Here’s what Jeremiah had to say on the conference call:

“Witherspoon, when (I) first popped him on was just blown away with the instincts and just the natural feel and awareness, route recognition. He sees things before they develop. Sometimes you can see guys that have the athletic ability, and sometimes you see guys that really have studied film and they know how to play, and it’s not common when you see guys that have all that wrapped up together. He does. He is a complete package that way.

“I mean, I wish he was 200 pounds. He is not going to be. He is going to be a little bit lighter, but he just pulls the trigger. He does not play with any hesitation. He plays with ultimate aggressiveness and confidence and urgency. Then you see that and say, okay, well, let’s see what happens when they hit him with double moves because sometimes you can take advantage of guys that are making plays on the ball. He doesn’t fall for it. He is really, really instinctive that way.”

For some additional NFL Draft content, we started our 2023 NFL Combine series this week and have completed all the offensive positions, with the defense on the way soon. If you missed any of the articles, check them out here:

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