The SB Nation 2023 mock draft is underway and the Detroit Lions are on the clock with pick No. 6. This is how the mock draft has played out so far, leading up to the Lions' selection:
No. 1: Carolina Panthers, C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
No. 2: Houston Texans, Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
No. 3: Arizona Cardinals, Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
No. 4: Indianapolis Colts, Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
No. 5: Seattle Seahawks, Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Based on how the board played out, the Lions have a handful of logical options to choose from, but the top three prospects on Detroit’s draft board are likely Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter, Illinois corner Devon Witherspoon, and Oregon corner Christian Gonzalez.
The good folks over at DraftKings Sportsbook appear to agree with this assertion. They identify corner (-125) and defensive line (-105) as the most likely positions the Lions will address with the team's first draft selection and list Anderson, Wilson, Carter, Gonzalez, and Witherspoon as the five players most likely to be the first defensive player selected in this draft.
Lions general manager Brad Holmes adopts the philosophy of taking the best player available in the draft, and with long-term needs at both defensive tackle and corner, he has the ability to create stability at a position while also taking the player he deems as the top talent on the board.
Therefore, with pick No. 6 in the SB Nation 2023 mock draft, the Lions select...
Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
For the last two seasons, Carter has been arguably the best defensive player in college football. Currently, he is ranked as the second-best player in the draft on SB Nation's' big board, due to his ability to impact the game on a down-to-down basis.
Blessed with an elite combination of power and athleticism, Carter has the unique ability to be impactful as both a pass rusher and run defender. He possesses a next-level first step and is quickly into his first pass rush move while the offensive lineman is still working to get out of his stance. He is devastatingly accurate with his hand placement and his lower body power complements this in a beautiful symphony of destruction.
While on the field, Carter is a clean prospect, recent off-the-field events—misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing in an incident that involved two fatalities, as well as a poor performance at his pro day—have raised potential red flags surrounding his character. The Lions have scheduled Carter for a top 30 visit, and his explanation of the events could go a long way in determining if he stays on the Lions’ draft board.
If the Lions deem his explanation acceptable and a one-time horrible lapse in judgment, they have the locker room and culture to aid Carter in working through the process of adjusting to the NFL both on and off the field. Again, DraftKings appears to agree. When projecting the team most likely to select Carter, the Lions land at the top of the list at +300, with the Seahawks close behind at +350.
That being said, if the Lions are not satisfied with Carter’s answer, he will be off their board completely. Unfortunately, we don’t know the full details surrounding the events or Carter’s explanation, therefore this selection was made based on his on-field projection.