clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Notes: National analysts expect big things from Detroit Lions rookies

Can the newest Lions on the squad help shape the upcoming season? Many NFL Network analysts seem to think so.

New York Giants vs Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

As the Detroit Lions hype train prepares to depart from the terminal to kick off the 2023 regular season, it looks like a lot of national analysts are on board. While much of the noise recently has been about the team’s chances of winning the division and coach Dan Campbell’s meteoric rise to become a Coach of the Year favorite, let’s not forget about the youngsters on the roster. analyst Bucky Brooks wrote on Friday that the Lions’ draft class is one of five in the league that can shape the playoff picture in 2023. Brooks called the Lions a “viable NFC contender” and focused on four rookies: Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta, Jack Campbell, and Brian Branch. On the offensive side, Gibbs is “an explosive playmaker” and LaPorta “could divert some of the attention away from Pro Bowl wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown on key downs.” Brooks sees Campbell and Branch as big additions on defense due to their deep experience at the highest levels of college football, providing “more high-IQ players in “traffic cop” positions” for defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn to work with.

Good Morning Football’s Peter Schrager released his top 10 breakout players for 2023 on a segment this past Thursday, and sitting at the third spot was the explosive playmaker Gibbs. During the show, Schrager said he’s “usually resistant on rookies, but had to do this” because Gibbs is the “perfect match of positionless player and mad scientist offensive coordinator who’s been in the lab drawing things up.” One of the more encouraging points highlighted with preseason film of solid blocking: “(Gibbs) is also one of the smarter young rookies i’ve seen. His pass protection gets a lot of talk. That means he’s going to play.” Schrager believes the Lions will be comfortable leaving Gibbs out on the field of critical third downs because they know he can block well.

Meanwhile, over on the analyst awards predictions for the 2023 season, two names popped up as rookie of the year possibilities. Although the overwhelming majority of their analysts picked Falcons running back Bijan Robinson as their offensive rookie of the year, digital content editor Michael Baca thought Jahmyr Gibbs could sneak in and take that title. Three of the 26 voters (Ali Bhanpuri, Gennaro Filice, Gregg Rosenthal) for the site picked Brian Branch as their defensive rookie of the year choice, good for third-most in the analyst poll.

Incidentally, there was also a section for coach of the year and playoff predictions. Head coach Dan Campbell was the choice of four voters, good for third behind the Jets’ Roberts Saleh (seven votes) and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin (five votes). On the playoff side, 20 out of 34 voters for that expert poll thought the Lions would take the NFC North. Nearly everybody felt the Lions would make the playoffs, though, because 11 of the remaining 14 had the Lions as one of their NFC wild card teams.

Are you on board the Detroit Lions hype train? It sure sounds like the national audience is, and it’s flowing down to fresh excitement about the newest players on the team. We now proceed to the rest of your weekend Notes:

  • The rookies from the 2023 draft are not the only young players on the roster getting buzz, though. Don’t forget about last year’s draft picks! Around the NFL’s Kevin Patra believes edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson may make his first Pro Bowl this year for the Lions.

  • College football season brings out some fun stuff from the players:

  • MLive’s Ben Raven and Kyle Meinke posted a new episode of their Dungeon of Doom podcast on Wednesday, discussing the “unusual” 53-man roster the Lions came up with. You can listen to the entire episode in a web player on Spotify.

Raven also wrote an article about how the Lions linebackers are approaching the challenge of covering Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce in the season opener.

  • Happy belated birthday to our favorite field position optimization specialist:

NEW: Join Pride of Detroit Direct

Jeremy Reisman will drop into your inbox twice a week to provide exclusive, in-depth reporting and insights from Ford Field. Subscribe to go deeper into Lions fandom, and join us on our path to win the Super Bowl.