The NFL Draft has a trickle down effect on every NFL roster. Naturally, when you add a player, it means there has to be a player who is pushed off the roster. And while every draft pick is not guaranteed a spot on the final 53, teams—whether they admit it or not—are going to favor the younger, cheaper option as long as there’s enough talent to warrant that decision.
But the NFL Draft can be beneficial to players, too. Maybe the team adds a perfect complement to increase a player’s efficiency. Or maybe the team didn’t add any competition, clearing a player’s path to the final roster.
Here are five Detroit Lions players who came out of the NFL Draft “winners.”
By far, the biggest winner of the Lions’ draft was Jared Goff. Detroit may not be picking in the top 10 for a while, so some believed if they wanted to try and upgrade the quarterback position, this was the year to do it. The Lions showed full faith in Goff throughout the process, and by passing on a quarterback in the first two rounds, they matched their actions with those words.
Not only that, but despite already having a top-five offense, the Lions added two huge weapons to that side of the ball with running back Jahmyr Gibbs and tight end Sam LaPorta. Both should immediately give Goff some security blanket weapons with the capabilities to break off huge plays.
And while the Lions did draft Hendon Hooker in the third round, he does not represent serious competition for the job in at least two years due to the rehab from his torn ACL and his long developmental curve. That means, unless the Lions force Goff to play through the final two years of his contract (which seems unlikely given they've already entered preliminary talks with his agent), Goff is more likely than ever got get an extension in Detroit.
Charles Harris/Romeo Okwara
Both Charles Harris and Romeo Okwara took significant pay cuts to stay in Detroit. The Lions rewarded that sacrifice by passing on defensive ends entirely in this draft, despite there being a long-term need there.
Not only does that mean Harris and Okwara are almost certainly going to make the roster, but they’re in line for pretty significant roles, as well. That will give them the opportunity to showcase their talents in this contract year and potentially cash in on a new deal in 2024. Both will be 29, so there is still a chance to find a healthy deal next offseason if they perform well on field.
Getting traded from Detroit was quite possibly the best thing that could happen to D’Andre Swift at this point in his career. Yes, it can be a humiliating experience, and Swift was clearly emotional about it in his Philadelphia introductory press conference. But it was clear his time in Detroit was coming to an end after 2023, and faith in him was clearly dwindling with both the fans and coaching staff here.
By going to Philly, he joins a rushing attack that was ranked first in DVOA last year, has a clear role for him after Miles Sanders left in free agency, and just so happens to be his own hometown.
Entering a contract year, he’s now in a place he loves, a place that has a significant role for him, and joins a rushing attack that will almost certainly rank among the league’s best. Sanders turned that opportunity into a four-year, $25.4 million contract this offseason, and with Swift still just 24 years old, he now has the opportunity to score big in Philly... if he can stay healthy. It’s a perfect fresh start for him.
There were some rumbling that Jackson may not get an extension in Detroit, simply because the Lions won’t be able to afford paying everyone on that offensive line. Jackson is entering a contract year, and although he’s made a Pro Bowl and seems to be annually overlooked and underappreciated, left guard is a relatively replaceable position.
However, the Lions did not draft an offensive linemen until deep into Day 3 of the draft. Colby Sorsdal is unlikely to start this year, and it seems just as unlikely he’ll be better at left guard—a position he didn’t play in college—than Jackson in Year 2.
With no succession plan in place, it now looks like Jackson is in line for an extension in the next few months.
Three kickers were selected on draft night, but the Lions did not take any of them. Either that shows the Lions were not willing to spend significant draft capital on the position (Jake Moody went in the third round, Chad Ryland went in the fourth), or they have a modicum of belief in Badgley.
Last year, Badgley was a steady presence in what has been a chaotic couple of years at kicker. In total, he made 20 of his 24 field goal attempts and was a perfect 33-of-33 at extra points. However, he lacks power, and has only made 5-of-13 kicks for 50+ yards in his five-year NFL career.
It’s not smooth sailing for Badgley to a roster spot yet, though. The Lions are reportedly bringing in XFL kicker John Parker Romo for a tryout this week. Romo went 17-of-19 this year in the XFL, including a long of 57.
Still, the fact that the Lions have yet to sign competition for Badgley is good for him, even though Detroit is expected to have another kicker during training camp.