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Mike Payton’s final 2023 Detroit Lions 7-round mock draft

A full seven-round Detroit Lions 2023 mock draft in which the team addresses several of their short and long-term needs.

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Texas A&M v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It’s almost here! The 2023 NFL draft is this week and the Detroit Lions are just about on the clock with the sixth pick. You know what that means? It means no more mock drafts after this week. This is it. This is my last one and then it’s over until next February. I will not be participating in a way too early 2024 NFL mock draft and you shouldn’t either.

Let’s jump into it. As I have with the volumes one and two of my mock draft series, I used Pro Football Network’s mock draft simulator to do this draft. Here are the first five picks leading up to the Lions being on the clock.

  1. Bryce Young
  2. C.J. Stroud

Wait a second, there’s been a trade. Let’s got to Adam Schefter to see what this is all about.

TRADE with the Arizona Cardinals

Trade parameters:

  • Lions acquire picks No. 3 and NO. 168
  • Cardinals acquire picks No. 6 and NO. 48 and a 2024 second-round pick

Pick No. 3: Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama

It’s really simple. If you want a player, you go get that player. The Lions are in a position where they have the ability to do big things in 2023 and beyond. In order to make sure they get those things done, they need to make sure their defense is up to par. Pairing Will Anderson on the other side of Aidan Hutchinson can totally do that.

Anderson is by far the top defensive blue chip player in this draft. There’s no way he makes it to six unless something happen Tyree Wilson, who the Cardinals reportedly have interest in. Even then, you have to hope that nobody trades up and then hope the Seahawks like Jalen Carter more.

Instead of going through all that, control your own destiny and go get your man. Problem solved. The Lions now have a scary defensive line that features a guy that does this.

Pick No. 18: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

Things have really changed for the Lions recently. Jameson Williams has been suspended by the NFL for six games after gambling in an NFL building. Now the Lions need some receiver help.

Can the Lions survive six games with Amon-Ra St. Brown, Marvin Jones, Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds? Probably. Could they thrive even more if they take the top X-receiver in the draft? Yes, they can. Then they can thrive even more once Jameson Williams returns.

Johnston is not the top receiver altogether in this draft, but he’s the best one left at this point. Jaxon Smith-Njigba went to the Texans at 11 and Jordan Addison went to the Packers at 15. It’s not just the receivers that are gone. All the blue chip corners are gone. The Lions were probably going to take a receiver at some point anyways, may as well get the best one you can. I drafted Johnston in the first round of my Volume 1.0 mock. Here’s a bit of what I had to say about him:

“Drafting Johnston adds a big 6-foot-4 X receiver to the mix. But Johnston can do so much more than that. He has great YAC ability, he make the contested catch, and he has a knack for getting behind the secondary and making wide open catches.”

No. 55: Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor

Oh, you thought I was done building the Lions defensive line? Well, I’m not. It’s time to add my original 2023 draft crush to the mix. At this point the Lions have a very nice group on the outside with Aidan Hutchinson, Will Anderson, James Houston, Romeo Okwara and John Cominsky. The interior could still use some help.

What was it that I liked so much about Ika? It was probably this.

Ika tested out poorly in the RAS category. He had a bad combine. That did not dissuade me. Some guys are just gamers. I think Ika fits that exact description. There’s no doubt that he can be athletic on the field despite not being athletic in pajamas. The interesting thing is that Ika’s biggest comp was Damon Harrison, but I see more athleticism and more power here. This defensive line is going to be dangerous.

No. 81: Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State

A third straight mock draft, a third straight selection of Daiyan Henley. This guy is very high on my list. I know the Lions may not feel like they need any upgrades to their linebacker room, but this guy’s coverage ability is invaluable. Here’s what I said about him in mock 1.0.

“I love a player who converts from one position to another and gets better. Henley fits that bill. The former wide receiver turned linebacker brings a lot to the table. The big thing he can bring to the Lions is his coverage ability. Those receiver hands and instincts really show up in his coverage tape. He’s so good that over the past two seasons, he’s tallied five interceptions and an outstanding 86.2 PFF coverage grade.”

No. 152: Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigan

Not my first choice at tight end, but Schoonmaker is a solid consolation prize at this point in the draft. The Lions could use some help at tight end, Schoonmaker happens to be one of those. Solid analysis Mike.

Schoonmaker isn’t much of the receiving type. He racked up just 637 yards and seven touchdowns during his entire tenure at Michigan. The good news is that I believe that James Mitchell is this team’s receiving tight end, and now that he’s fully healthy, he could take off in Year 2.

What Schoonmaker does bring to the table is blocking ability. Specifically in the run game, Schoonmaker can be that sixth offensive lineman for the Lions and help the Lions keep their run game a strength. Look at what he can do.

Pick No. 159: Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse

Look, I get the idea of taking one of these top corners in the draft and if the Lions do it, they won’t be in the wrong. It’s just not their most pressing issue at the moment after signing Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and C.J. Gardner-Johnson.

The good news is that this is deep draft for corners and we’ve got ourselves a bit of steal here. Williams was ranked ninth on PFF’s cornerback rankings. Williams is a guy that should be going much higher than this. Our own Erik Schlitt even had Williams on his list of guys to watch not long ago.

The reason he’s here is because he’s coming off a torn ACL that he suffered in October. That, of course, means he’s not going to play right away. Still, this is part of the draft where you can take chances. The Lions should do that for a guy like this.

Pick No. 168: Riley Moss, CB, Iowa

Two corners back to back? Are you mad? No, I just see another steal in Riley Moss. This is my second time mocking him to the Lions. There’s a chance he doesn’t quite make it this low, but since he’s here, I’m taking him again. The guy is a ball hawk. He snatched 11 interceptions during his time at Iowa. He also batted down 26 passes, including 11 just last season.

TRADE with the Los Angeles Rams

Trade parameters:

  • Lions acquire picks No. 179
  • Rams acquire picks No. 183 and NO. 194

No. 179: Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA

I had to take my guy again here. I know there are some out there that don’t see it in Thompson-Robinson, but the guy has the talent. He just needs to have it finely molded. The Lions have a great coaching staff for that.

I wrote an entire article on Thompson-Robinson a few weeks ago. It’ll definitely help explain what I see in him.

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