In his first NFL Draft as Detroit Lions general manager, Brad Holmes only made a single draft day trade in 2021—a modest Day 3 trade up to grab linebacker Derrick Barnes. The next year, Holmes got significantly more aggressive—jumping 20 spots in the first round to grab Jameson Williams. He capped the draft with a minor trade down in Round 6, but that was it. One draft day trade in 2021, two in 2022.
On Friday night, we all witnessed an evolution in Brad Holmes. On Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft alone, he orchestrated four trades—taking complete command of the second and third rounds.
- Seeing Brian Branch still on the board at 45, the Lions jumped three spots from 48 to grab him—costing them just a fifth-round pick
- With no value picks in the second round, Holmes traded back twice, gaining picks 122, 139, and 249 in the process, while slipping down to the third round and moving picks 183 and 194.
- With the extra Day 3 capital, Holmes made another aggressive trade up, moving from the fourth round (122) to the late third round (96) to grab DT Brodric Martin, while trading away two fifth-round picks.
After the draft, Holmes admitted he has settled in as an NFL general manager and is feeling more confident to swing these trades.
“I felt a lot more comfortable doing that this year,” Holmes said. “Obviously, we made a couple of trades last year, but this year kind of – especially when you’re getting into Day 2 and being able to maneuver around, you just learn as you go and as you get more experience. You get more comfortable at it in terms of just kind of reading it and feeling it and making calls.”
Of course, it helps to have heaps of draft capital. The Lions entered the day with three picks in the second round and five Day 3 picks. But Holmes’ trades helped add extra value to their draft class, and he used up much of that surplus to get Martin, a much-needed addition along the defensive line.
Despite his history, Holmes’ hyperactivity on Friday should not have been that much of a surprise. In his pre-draft press conference a week ago, he said they felt they had the roster flexibility and assets to basically do whatever they want on draft night.
“I do like the fact that we can pretty much go any direction we want, and we can feel pretty good about it, just get the right football player for us,” Holmes said.
But to be as flexible as they were on Friday night, it takes an entire crew. Holmes may be the orchestrator, but others inside help work out the parameters of the trades, and Holmes was quick to thank them after the dust had settled.
“I have a great staff that really just does a great job just kind of working the phones with (Lions Chief Operating Officer Mike) Disner, (Lions Senior Director, Football Administration Brandon) Sosna, and (Lions Senior Personnel Executive John) Dorsey and those guys,” Holmes said.
As the Lions enter Day 3, they only have two picks remaining—a fifth and seventh-round pick. But at this point, expect the Lions to pick on Day 3 wherever they want to, because Holmes clearly isn’t afraid to keep those phones active.