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Mailbag: What can we draw from the Detroit Lions’ pre-draft visits?

The Detroit Lions have already met with a ton of players in the 2023 NFL Draft class. What conclusions—if any—can we draw from that list

NFL: Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Visits are a critical part to the NFL Draft scouting process. It’s not only an opportunity to get important medical and physical information from these players, but face-to-face time can reveal intimate details about a player’s personality and character—something that the Detroit Lions obviously value highly.

This year, we’re tracking all of the Lions’ confirmed formal visits, including NFL Combine meetings, pro day encounters, virtual visits, and the all-important top-30 visits to the Lions’ facility.

But how much can we actually draw from this information? Will all of the Lions’ picks come from this list of players, and are there any trends we can draw from these players? Or are we too eager to read the tea leaves and overanalyze each bit of draft news?

“Yeah, typically we overanalyze everything,” Erik Schlitt said on our Midweek Mailbag podcast this week. “The Lions are sending people out to virtually every pro day and they’re having conversations with guys that are not being reported.”

That said, there are some interesting patterns. For one, it appears they’re doing a lot of homework on the interior offensive line class. A few of the top prospects there—O’Cyrus Torrance, Darnell Wright, Steve Avila, Chandler Zavala—have all had some sort of contact with the Lions in this pre-draft process. Could that mean Detroit is in the market for a position where there’s a clear long-term need?

“They’ve done a lot of visits with interior offensive linemen,” Schlitt said. “They did it at the combine, they’ve done it at pro days, they’ve done it in top-30s. They’ve done a lot of homework on this group to where it tends to support the theory that they’ve got to grab one this year.”

Then there’s the quarterback position. The debate rages on whether Detroit should take a swing on a top-tier quarterback in this year’s class. However, they have not been tied to most of the top passers in this class. So does the Lions lack of apparent interest in quarterback kills some of the belief that they’ll go quarterback at the top of the first round?

“I would think it does,” Schlitt said. “The only one of the top guys they’ve been in contact with is (Anthony) Richardson. They met with him at the combine, they were out in Florida a ton, but Florida has a couple of other guys, too. So they’re not necessarily just going out there for him.”

That entire discussion kicks off our mailbag podcast. Other topics this week include:

  • What to make of the Will Anderson visit? Could the Lions trade up to get him? (5:30)
  • Trading up from 18? (9:30)
  • Do the Lions have any tradable pieces or surprise cuts coming? (13:45)
  • Any positions the Lions need to draft in the top two rounds? (16:15)
  • Has Lions GM Brad Holmes earned enough trust to constantly take risks by trading up? (23:20)
  • What are the chances the Lions take WR in the first two rounds? Who could it be? (27:00)
  • What needs to go right for the Lions to make a deep run in 2023? (32:20)
  • Who are some late-round skill position players the Lions could draft? (37:20)

You can listen to the entire episode below.

Note: There is a written mailbag coming later this week, which will answer a different set of questions.

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