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The Detroit Lions’ best move is to trade down in first round of NFL Draft

The NFL Draft really opens up for the Detroit Lions if they trade down from the sixth overall pick.

NFL Combine Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

I’ve watched all the Saw movies a lot. There are always some really creative traps in those movies and even more creative ways to get out of them. Right now my greatest fear is that Jigsaw kidnaps me and puts me in trap that I can only get out of if I correctly guess what the Lions do with the sixth pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. There’s just no way I would make it out of there alive because I have no idea what this team is about to do.

If the way out of the trap is say what I think the Lions should do, then I have a 50/50 shot at it. They should take one of the best defensive players in the draft if they fall to them. If that doesn’t happen, the Lions should be finding a way to drop down in the trade.

Part of the reason I’m sold on the idea of a trade down comes from last week's PODcast. Jeremy Reisman talks about the Lions entering the second tier of talent at the sixth pick. Basically what Jeremy is saying is that if the draft is broken down into tiers of talent, the best tier of players is likely to be gone by the time the Lions’ pick rolls around.

That’s a pretty likely scenario at this point. If the draft order stands the way it is right now, it’s not crazy to believe that the best three quarterbacks and best two defensive players will be gone by the time the Lions get to the sixth pick.

The talent available at the second tier of players features a bunch of positions that aren’t pressing needs for the Lions right now. We’re talking cornerbacks, offensive linemen and offensive skill players. The Lions are already pretty well stocked in those areas. That’s not to say they couldn’t get better, but they are pretty set at the moment, This could be where the Lions sell to the highest bidder that needs one of those players and is willing to make moves for them.

There should be plenty of suitors for a trade down situation. Just looking around the draft you can see why a team like the Falcons may want to jump over the Raiders if the fourth best quarterback is still there. The Titans may want to move up to make sure they can secure their next number one receiver before teams like the Bears and even the Falcons again go grab the top guy.

It’s not all about skill players and quarterbacks, there are plenty of defensive players that teams may want to move up for. In Daniel Jeremiah’s latest mock draft, the Raiders, Eagles, Texans and Jets all took defensive linemen. There’s reason to believe any of these teams might want to jump each other for a lineman they like. What if Jalen Carter makes it six and the Lions aren’t interested? Surely some team will be.

What can the Lions realistically get in a trade down? Well, every draft is different and every team has a different level of desperation, but the last team to trade the sixth pick got a pretty nice haul from it. The Eagles traded the sixth overall pick and a fifth-round pick to the Dolphins for the 12th pick, the 123rd pick (fourth round) and a 2022 first-round pick. Miami moved up to grab a wide receiver Jaylen Waddle. The Eagles used the extra first-round pick to take Jordan Davis in last year’s draft.

Imagine if the Lions can enter a third straight draft with two first-round picks? That may not be the going rate this year, but even if they were to get, instead, a second-round pick in this year’s draft, that would give them five picks within the first two rounds of the draft.

If the Lions wind up in that 10-15 range, they could still walk out of Day 1 with some really nice players. Guys like Pittsburgh defensive lineman Calijah Kancey, Clemson edge Myles Murphy, Penn State corner Joey Porter Jr., Texas running back Bijan Robinson, TCU receiver Quentin Johnston, Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid and Georgia edge defender Nolan Smith could all be there—and none represent a huge drop-off in talent from what they could’ve gotten at six. There are a ton of different possibilities, because the Lions have positioned themselves to do just about anything.

The Lions may be in one of the most advantageous spots in the draft. Like every team, they need to get better, but they’re not desperate to add a specific player or position. They can stay or they can go. There’s just so much drama to think about here. It’s going to be a very interesting and entertaining night for everyone. Still, the Lions could really use this opportunity to maximize their draft capital. They should think long and hard about doing it.

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