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Mel Kiper 2023 NFL mock draft: Will Anderson falls to Detroit Lions in 2-round mock

The Detroit Lions land Will Anderson—arguably the best defensive talent—in Mel Kiper’s latest two-round 2023 NFL mock draft

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Georgia vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

During a recent podcast, our staff debated whether it was realistic for Alabama edge defender Will Anderson to fall to the Detroit Lions with the sixth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. While we could all dream up scenarios, many of us believed it was unlikely that the Lions will walk away with what many people believe is the best defensive prospect in the draft.

However, that exact scenario played out in Mel Kiper’s latest two-round mock draft. The ESPN analyst saw four quarterbacks go in the first four picks (after the Titans traded up to three) and gave the Seattle Seahawks Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter.

That left the Lions to make a fairly easy selection of Anderson.

“I love the potential pairing of Anderson on the other side of Aidan Hutchinson, the No. 2 overall pick a year ago,” Kiper wrote. “That’s a scary edge rushing duo. In 2021, Anderson’s 79 QB pressures ranked first in the country, while Hutchinson was second with 64. Anderson had 17.5 sacks to Hutchinson’s 14. These two know how to get after quarterbacks. For a Detroit team without many available starting spots on its roster, this would be a tremendous selection.”

Let’s take a look at the three other selections the Lions made in Kiper’s mock.

18. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

The Lions certainly have a long-term need at running back with D’Andre Swift in the final year of his contract, and Robinson is far and away the best back in this year’s class. However, the value of a running back here has been, and will continue to be, a hot topic. In fact, Kiper’s co-worker Bill Barnwell penned a very interesting article examining the value of a first-round running back.

Here’s an excerpt:

From 1980 to 2010, about 39% of first-round picks produced 50 or more AV points over the course of their careers, either for their own team or another. In an era in which teams were more aggressive in valuing running backs with first-round grades, 117 running backs were selected in the first round, the fourth most out of the seven positional groups.

Just 32.5% of those backs generated 50 or more AV. Again, this was the worst mark for any positional group. There’s not a huge range between the worst positional group and the best (quarterbacks at 46.2%), but this isn’t exactly strong evidence that teams were right to draft running backs in the first round more often in years past.

Barnwell concludes that if your evaluation and conviction is still very strong that Robinson will be a Hall of Fame-level running back—which many believe—he would be a very difficult prospect to pass up.

48. Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa

Kiper’s pick here matches the one from his cohort Todd McShay and his two-round mock from a week ago. Like Erik Schlitt outlined in that post, picking Campbell here would go against how the team has valued off-ball linebackers in the past, and would be a bit curious after giving Alex Anzalone a three-year deal this offseason.

That said, Campbell absolutely embodies the kind of football character the Lions crave and was a two-year captain at Iowa. Additionally, the Lions scheduled Arkansas’ Drew Sanders in for a top-30 visit, and Sanders is projected to be a Day 1 or 2 pick—showing that the Lions actually may have interest in adding to the position early in the draft.

55. Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

The Lions have made it a habit of taking Tennessee Volunteers this offseason, why not another? We haven’t talked much about Hyatt this offseason, so let’s get to know the prospect a little better.

Note: Hyatt was in our 2023 NFL Combine preview and in an edition of our weekly NFL Draft watch during the season.

Hyatt is most known for his five-touchdown performance against Alabama in the Volunteers’ huge upset over the Crimson Tide. Not only did he have 207 yards receiving in that game, but he also added another 71 on the ground.

At 6-foot, 176 pounds, Hyatt is an undersized speedster, which is something that the Lions certainly haven’t shied away from. That speed and good hand usage are how he’ll win at the next level.

There is some risk in that Tennessee’s offense wasn’t overly complicated and Hyatt was just a one-year starter, but the physical tools here are pretty fun. To pair him with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams would give the Lions a surplus of big-play weapons.

Grade Kiper’s mock below and share your favorite and least favorite picks by scrolling to our comment section below.


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