Now that NFL teams are starting to release some behind-the-scenes videos of the 2023 NFL Draft, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of what teams really thought about this year’s draft prospects. Earlier this week, we noted that the Lions weren’t the only team really in love with tight end Sam LaPorta, and thanks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ media team, we now know that linebacker Jack Campbell was also a popular player. Their draft video shows confirmation that Campbell was very close to being the Bucs’ pick at 19th overall.
In the video below, you can see Tampa Bay eagerly awaiting Detroit’s decision with the 18th pick. They talk about two candidates for their own pick: Campbell and defensive tackle Calijah Kancey.
Inside the #Bucs Draft Room: The team had two guys left that they wanted to Draft at 19 while the #Lions were picking at 18.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) May 17, 2023
LB Jack Campbell, and their top priority, DT Calijah Kancey.
The group was nervous but got their guy. It also shows the Lions didn't overdraft… pic.twitter.com/OQ9GobO41h
“We still had two guys that we really liked on the board, with Kancey being one of them,” Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles said after the fact. “We had a shot either way Detroit picked. Then when Detroit picked the other way, they picked the linebacker, we had a chance to get Kancey, and that was pretty good.”
The way Bowles described it, it sure sounds like the Buccaneers were prepared to take either of the players the Lions didn’t pick. In other words, had the Lions taken Kancey—a legit possibility considering their need for defensive tackles—Tampa was perfectly happy taking Campbell.
What’s not clear, though, is what the Buccaneers would have done had the Lions picked someone else entirely. Who would’ve been the Bucs’ pick if Campbell and Kancey were on the board? We don’t see the immediate reaction of the Buccaneers’ war room once the Lions’ pick is in. You do have to wonder in the Buccaneers purposely cut around that moment, but it’s worth noting that Buccaneers’ general manager Jason Licht did say—after the fact—that Kancey was the top option on their board. Of course, that’s essentially what he’s required to say now that he’s the player they drafted.
“When we got to the point where we were going to sit and wait, and we have three players we like in this order, they started getting selected,” Licht said. “Now Calijah was at the top of that list, but there was just that chance that he was gone. And when the pick in front of us went and it wasn’t Calijah—that’s where I was starting to sweat a little bit.”
The Lions saw quite a bit of criticism for their pick of Campbell on draft night. Some argued that the linebacker position, in general, is not worth a first-round pick, while others believed Campbell to be a prospect more worthy of a second or third-round grade.
However, this proves that Detroit wasn’t the only team who viewed Campbell as a first-round talent, and if the Lions had decided to try and wait until Pick No. 34 to get Campbell, there’s a good chance they wouldn’t have had a shot at him.