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.
With the 2023 NFL Draft just days away, many analysts are publishing their final mock drafts of the season. Additionally, many draft experts are wrapping up their final media press conferences ahead of the event and delivering their final thoughts on the prospect class, as well as their opinions on the state of different NFL teams.
One of those experts, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network, spoke with the media on Thursday and had glowing things to say about the Lions (emphasis was applied by the writer).
“I’m intrigued to see what happens with the Detroit Lions because they’re right on the cusp. They are a really good team. We saw within a whisker of making the playoffs last year.
“When you look are they’re picking, they have four of the top 55 picks. They have another one there at 81. So they’ve got a chance to add some real, real help to their roster and the way that their lineup is set up right now, you don’t look like they can’t line up and play tomorrow at a certain spot. So that allows them to take the best available player.
“(General manager) Brad Holmes, I give him a lot of credit. He took a lot of grief after the (Matthew) Stafford trade, and they went on and won the Super Bowl with the Rams. He knew the timing, and he nailed it because they weren’t ready to win yet, and he was able to still get a quality quarterback in return and load up with all these assets, and now they’re in great shape.
“I don’t know that there’s many teams you would rather be than them right now. Where they are as an organization and the assets they have to go ahead and take that next step.”
In a follow-up question, Jeremiah was asked what his ideal draft for the Lions would be and we included his answers in this week’s roundup, along with some of his latest opinions on other prospects mocked to Detroit.
Note: All of this week’s mock drafts were collected before the news of Jameson Williams’ suspension, and while there could be an overreaction in the draft community to add wide receiver onto the Lions’ early needs list, I’m not sold that it impacts the Lions draft plans much at all, as they typically focus on drafting for the future.
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
No. 2: Michael Renner (PFF) - No trade parameters given
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
No. 18: Sam Farmer (LA Times)
Analysts are pairing the Lions with quarterback less frequently than ever, with the only scenarios this week coming from a significant trade-up and an opportunity of grabbing a high-upside talent at value.
Jeremiah was asked specifically about the Lions potentially taking a quarterback, and he suggested the Lions were likely hoping to see multiple quarterbacks come off the board early so they could take a top-tier defender at pick No. 6 overall.
“I think if I’m the Lions, I want all four of those quarterbacks to go. If that happens, you’re going to get one of the premier players in the draft, one of these defensive players specifically. That’s what I would be rooting for if I was Brad Holmes there in Detroit.”
Offensive skill players
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
No. 18: Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com), Will Brinson (CBS Sports), Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News)
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
No. 18: Jared Dubin (CBS Sports), Carmen Vitali and David Helman (Fox Sports)
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
No. 18: Justin Melo (Draft Network), Brad Biggs (Chicago Tribune), Jonathan Jones (CBS Sports), Oliver Hodgkinson (Pro Football Network)
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
No. 18: Evan Silva (Establish the run), Jamie Eisner (Draft Network), Curt Popejoy (Draft Wire)
In Jeremiah’s “ideal mock draft” for the Lions, he projected them to snag Bijan Robinson at pick No. 18.
“You passed him once (at pick No. 6). If he is there the second time, it’s almost like this is a gift. I can’t turn this away. That would just be fun to watch him run behind that offensive line and see what he can do.”
In a previous conference call, Jeremiah recognized the concerns over the value of drafting a running back early and explained his thoughts associated with taking Bijan Robinson in the first round.
“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... 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”
With Jeremiah believing the Lions are a team that is ready to win now, a Robinson-Lions marriage could be super fun to watch them make that push.
Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
No. 6: Peter Schrager (NFL.com), Maurice Jones-Drew (NFL.com), Trevor Sikkema and Connor Rogers (PFF), Arjun Menon and Brad Spielberger (PFF), Brad Biggs (Chicago Tribune), Jonathan Jones (CBS Sports), Josh Edwards (CBS Sports), Curt Popejoy (Draft Wire), Natalie Miller (Draft Wire), Matt Urben (Falcons Wire), Carmen Vitali and David Helman (Fox Sports)
No. 11: Justin Melo (Draft Network) Lions trade No. 6, receive No. 11, 72, 2024 1st-round pick
Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
No. 18: Dane Brugler (The Athletic), Steve Palazzolo and Sam Monson (PFF), Matthew Freedman (Fantasy Pros), Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz (USA Today)
Brian Bresee, DL, Clemson
No. 18: Scott Bair (AtlantaFalcons.com), Brianna Dix (Buccaneers.com)
Mazi Smith, NT, Michigan
No. 18: Adam Caplan (Pro Football Network)
Jalen Carter remains a very popular choice to mock to the Lions and he had the most projections of any prospect this week. Now maybe there was an increased amount of projections because Carter took a top-30 visit with the Lions this week and Holmes’ comments on the meeting were positive—although a bit vague.
“Yeah, he came in and he did a nice job. Yeah, again, it’s always case-by-case. (He) came in, we enjoyed our time with him, he did a nice job. I’ll say even after he left our visit, I felt better on him.”
Kancey remains a popular choice at No. 18, though Bresee still has his believers—interesting enough, his supporters this week were both writers from NFL South teams. Mazi Smith makes his first appearance in the roundup, and while I think he could sneak into the first round, it seems more likely he is picked near the end of the round as opposed to the middle.
Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
No. 3: Brianna Dix (Buccaneers.com) - no trade parameters given
No. 6: Andrew Erickson (Fantasy Pros)
Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
No. 6: Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)
No 18: Charles McDonald (Yahoo Sports), Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)
Nolan Smith, LB, Georgia
No. 18: Trevor Sikkema and Connor Rogers (PFF)
Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech
No. 18: Shaen Hallam (Draft Countdown)
The Will Anderson dream stays alive for those still holding out hope, but he remains a likely top three prospect and as Dix noted, it could require a trade-up to secure him. What’s even more interesting this week is that the Tyree Wilson hype continues to climb, but despite the extra attention, he was not mocked to the Lions a single time.
If Anderson is indeed taken in the top three, and Wilson is off the board before the Lions are on the clock, those projections of Jalen Carter to Detroit could be a very real possibility.
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
No. 6: Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com), Evan Silva (Establish the run), Jamie Eisner (Draft Network), Sam Farmer (LA Times), Steve Palazzolo and Sam Monson (PFF), Will Brinson (CBS Sports), Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz (USA Today), Eliot Christ (Fantasy Life), Scott Bair (AtlantaFalcons.com)
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
No. 6: Dane Brugler (The Athletic), Charles McDonald (Yahoo Sports), Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports), Jared Dubin (CBS Sports), Shane Hallam (Draft Countdown), Adam Caplan (Pro Football Network), Oliver Hodgkinson (Pro Football Network), Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News), Matthew Freedman (Fantasy Pros)
No. 18: Eliot Christ (Fantasy Life)
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
No. 18: Peter Schrager (NFL.com), Maurice Jones-Drew (NFL.com), Michael Renner (PFF), Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports), Andrew Erickson (Fantasy Pros)
Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
No. 18: Arjun Menon and Brad Spielberger (PFF), Matt Urben (Falcons Wire)
Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
No. 18: Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports)
Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
No. 18: Natalie Miller (Draft Wire)
Despite there being a chance that the Lions land a defensive lineman at the top of the draft, most analysts still seem to be leaning towards the Lions selecting a cornerback and choosing between Devon Witherspoon and Christian Gonzalez. Which one the Lions would prefer is anyone's guess. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler leans towards Gonzalez, while Jeremiah picked the Lions to prefer Witherspoon.
“My ideal scenario for them was Witherspoon, who I love. One of my favorite players. He is plug-and-play. I think he will fit with their culture and their grittiness that they’ve installed there in that organization.”
If you’ve followed along with the roundup this offseason, you know that I side with Jeremiah in this debate—though it’s very close—and believe Witherspoon is one of the elite talents in this class. I’m not alone in this opinion either. In a recent podcast with Lions senior writer Tim Twentyman, Connor Rogers (NBC Sports and PFF) gushed over Witherspoon and his fit in Detroit.
The @Lions taking Devon Witherspoon 6th overall wouldn't just be landing the top CB in the draft, but one of the best overall players in this class— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) April 21, 2023
with @ttwentyman pic.twitter.com/clrXQU9ZJj
Beyond debating between Witherspoon and Gonzalez at the top of the draft, there are plenty of analysts who believe the Lions could also be in play for a corner at No. 18. Which player fits best is also a regularly debated topic, with Joey Porter Jr. seeing a late offseason surge in the rankings.
Additional recent NFL Draft content from Pride of Detroit
Prospect visits (which continuously updates):
Alex Reno’s positional breakdowns:
- Ranking the Lions’ best options with the 6th overall draft pick
- Ranking the top RB fits for the Lions
- Ranking the top fits on the offensive line
- Ranking the top cornerbacks
- Ranking the top defensive tackles
- Ranking the top off-the-ball linebackers
Erik Schlitt’s recent mock draft picks coverage:
- POD Community mock draft: No. 6, Devon Witherspoon NFL profile, fit with Lions
- POD CMD: No. 18, Darnell Wright NFL profile, fit with Lions
- POD CMD: No. 48, Keeanu Benton NFL profile, fit with Lions (NEW)
- POD CMD: No. 55, Coming Soon
- SB Nation mock draft: No. 6, Jalen Carter’s fit in Detroit
- SBN MD: No. 18, Darnell Wright adds to a strength
More recent draft coverage from POD:
- Brad Holmes offers thoughts on Georgia DT Jalen Carter
- Holmes dismisses concerns over first-round running back value
- 5 reasons the Lions will trade up to pick No. 3
- 5 reasons the Lions won’t trade up to pick No. 3
- Why trading for SF QB Trey Lance makes sense
- Expectations for 2023 rookies should be tempered
- Mike Payton’s Lions 7-round mock draft 2.0