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Notes: National media coming around to Detroit Lions’ 2023 draft class

After some initial hate, the Detroit Lions 2023 NFL Draft class is starting to get some love.

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2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3 Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Without a doubt, the Detroit Lions were viewed as one of the biggest “losers” in Day 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft. Though they had two first-round picks—and selected two highly-graded players—many believed Detroit’s mistakes were in passing over players at more high-impactful positions. So even when the Lions saw a ton of praise for what they did on Day 2 of the draft, their overall grades from the entire draft were average, at best.

But as we’ve gotten further away from the three-day event, it seems like the national media is starting to come around on the Lions’ draft haul. And, ironically enough, it seemed to be an analytics viewpoint that started the turning of the tide.

NFL’s NextGenStats put out a tweet shortly after the draft, giving the Lions the best overall draft grade—admittedly based on an unclear draft grades metric:

(You can read a little more on the metric here)

Part of their model incorporates production level in college. That’s where the Lions scored big, per the NextGenStats Twitter account, ranking first among all 32 draft classes in that particular metric.

From there, the proverbial floodgates opened. Football Outsiders’ Mike Tanier gave the Lions an overall A-, second only to the Bears in the division.

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler ranked the Lions’ class ninth best in the NFL, noting, “We can debate the ‘value’ of where each player was drafted, but it’s hard to dislike the collection of players the Lions added.” Adam Schein ranked the Lions’ draft class third in the NFL, only behind the Texans and Eagles.

NFL Network reporter Steve Wyche has fully adopted Detroit’s no-fear attitude:

That isn’t to say it’s all sunshine and rainbows. The Ringer penned, what I think is a highly-flawed article called, “What, exactly, is the Detroit Lions’ plan?”

Still, it seems like many analysts have come to the Lions’ defense over the past couple of days.

  • If you haven’t seen this chart yet, get ready to be even more excited about tight end Sam LaPorta:

  • More LaPorta hype: check out this great Twitter thread of the Iowa tight end’s best highlights from our own Alex Reno:

  • Speaking of Gibbs, our good friend Brett Whitefield gave him one of the highest prospects scores in recent history:

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