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Ranking every player on the 2023 Detroit Lions: Cracking the top 30

Our rankings of the entire 2023 Detroit Lions roster continues with players ranked 30-21.

Seattle Seahawks v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With only a few installments left in our 2023 Detroit Lions roster ranking series, we’re starting to get into the most important pieces of this year’s squad. If this team is truly going to make the kind of impact many are predicting them to, these are the people who will have to have big years to do it.

The good news is that a lot of players on our list from 21-30 have already made positive impacts in the past. That’s never a guarantee of future success, though, so these players can’t be complacent.

Here are the players our staff ranked 30-21 on the entire Lions roster.


Reminder: This list is based on the average of eight different Pride of Detroit staff members’ individual lists.

30. EDGE Charles Harris (High: 20; Low: 39)

Last year’s ranking: 16

Harris takes a pretty significant step back in our rankings after an injury-filled season. Without a doubt 2022 was a letdown year for Harris after it looked like he had turned his career around the year before. But hope springs eternal for Harris, as the coaching staff has been talking him up and he’s already made an impression on Day 1 of camp.

29. DT Isaiah Buggs (High: 20; Low: 36)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

Buggs was too late of an addition last year to make the previous season’s countdown, but needless to say, he outperformed expectations in 2022. Obviously, Detroit has some run defense issues last year, but Buggs came in late, ate up nearly 80 percent of the defensive snaps at his position, and held his own as the defense improved in the back half of 2022.

The coaching staff is hoping to scale back Buggs’ playing time in 2023, but not because they don’t like how he’s performing. They want to simply maximize his efficiency by keeping him fresh. With Brodric Martin, Christian Covington, and Levi Onwuzurike now potentially able to provide some relief, Buggs could be even better this year.

28. LB Jack Campbell (High: 26; Low: 33)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

The long-term expectation for Jack Campbell is extremely high. He’s not only expected to eventually carry the green dot, but the Lions view Campbell as the kind of player who can be a foundational defensive piece for the next decade and beyond.

But early on, Campbell is going to have to earn his playing time, and there’s no guarantee that means starting Day 1. While the Lions have been repping Campbell almost exclusively at the MIKE linebacker position, Detroit will be perfectly happy starting Alex Anzalone there if they don’t feel Campbell is ready to take on that critical role this early.

27. DB Brian Branch (High: 23 Low: 36)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

Very interesting to see second-round pick Brian Branch ahead of Campbell on this list, but it also matches some pre-draft expectations. Many saw Campbell as a second-round talent and Branch as a first-round talent.

In his first year, Branch will almost certainly play a subpackage role, but with C.J. Gardner-Johnson only signed to a one-year deal, Branch could become a full-time starter in a hurry. Either way, Branch is likely headed for some special teams roles in his rookie season and provides depth to a unit that was lacking even starting talent last year.

26. CB Jerry Jacobs (High: 21; Low: 30)

Last year’s ranking: 30

Last year, Jacobs took an enormous leap (50 spots) in our rankings, and he continues to climb as he defies expectations at every turn. He’s’ got another interesting challenge ahead of him after the Lions signed Emmanuel Moseley to compete for his spot in the starting lineup. But the recent news that Moseley will spend more time on the PUP than originally expected, gives Jacobs the opportunity to solidify his starter status.

25. WR Kalif Raymond (High: 17; Low: 35)

Last year’s ranking: 25

Raymond stays put in our rankings this year, but I suspect he would have jumped up in our rankings had the roster not improved at the top. He was second on the team in receiving yards and received second-team All-Pro honors for his punt return game.

Raymond has simply become one of the most reliable players on the roster. He may not be a top-end talent, but whenever the Lions need him in a pinch, he’s capable of playing—and performing—in just about any receiver role in this offense.

24. EDGE Romeo Okwara (High: 17; Low: 28)

Last year’s ranking: 13

Two years ago, Okwara was fifth on these rankings, but his Achilles injury has caused him to drop in back-to-back years. He finally put the injury behind him last year, but still only managed to play in five games in 2022.

Now well over a year removed from the injury, Okwara can start to prove that he is still capable of the level of play that led to his 10-sack season. It’s a crowded edge defender room, though, so he’ll likely be sharing those opportunities with a handful of players.

23. WR Josh Reynolds (High: 16; Low: 32)

Last year’s ranking: 21

In my opinion, Reynolds is one of the most overlooked players on the roster. He was a big reason the Lions were able to turn things around on offense toward the end of the 2021 season and he continued with some decent production the following year. Here’s receivers coach Antwaan Randle El on Reynolds:

“First six games, with Jamo or without Jamo, that cat is important. We need Josh.”

He may not have a flashy game to him, but he’s got a rapport with Jared Goff and he’s dependable.

22. EDGE John Cominsky (High: 18; Low: 25)

Last year’s ranking: 62

Cominsky takes one of the biggest jumps in this countdown and for good reason. A highly-sought after waiver claim, Cominsky came into Detroit and immediately played a critical role in the Lions' defensive front. He was a true disrupter and unselfish player whose style of attack often opened up more opportunities for his teammates than himself.

“He’s very important,” Dan Campbell said last year. “And really, I feel like – I said this earlier, when we lost him (to injury) for that period of time, it did affect us because there’s a lot of things that he does that go unseen from the outside. I think there’s a number of things when it comes to our stunt games and setting up our rush patterns that he is kind of our point guy on a little bit if you will. He’s highly intelligent, certainly he’s high motor, he is aggressive, but I think he’s just – he’s a little bit of that glue for those guys up front.”

21. G Halapoulivaati Vaitai (High: 17; Low: 29)

Last year’s ranking: 20

Vaitai is back and healthy after back surgery cost him his entire 2022 season. Interestingly, he drops just a single spot in our countdown this year. Perhaps after going an entire season with turnstile after turnstile at right guard, our staff has learned to appreciate what Vaitai has given at the guard position in the past. Hopefully this year we’ll finally get to see the starting five together—although don’t sleep on Graham Glasgow.

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