With the offseason upon the Detroit Lions, the focus remains on building a winner.
Lions general manager Brad Holmes is facing a critical offseason, as the team’s 9-8 finish has the fanbase eager to return to the postseason. The Lions are aching to play in the playoffs, as it’s now been six seasons since the organization last made it.
Holmes has the chance to continue the positive momentum with a solid haul in the 2023 NFL Draft. Though there’s plenty that will happen between now and April, here’s my first attempt at predicting what Holmes and company will do with their selections.
Without further ado, here is my 2023 NFL Mock Draft 1.0.
Bresee fits the bill as a run-stuffer that Detroit’s defense desperately needs. He anchored Clemson’s efforts on the defensive side for the last three seasons. In 2022, he finished with five-and-a-half tackles for loss and three-and-a-half sacks.
Alim McNeill had a solid second season, and Bresee could be the running mate Detroit needs. The unit needs to be much better against the run, as it finished near the bottom in that category each of the last two years.
Currently, Bresee is viewed behind only Jalen Carter among defensive tackles in this year’s draft class. Adding him would be a solid start to Detroit’s efforts of reclaiming success against the run.
No. 18 overall — Joey Porter Jr., cornerback, Penn State
After using the first pick to address the run defense, the second can be a chance for Detroit to build its secondary. There’s a deep pool of cornerbacks, and in this scenario, it’s Porter whom the Lions select.
The son of a former NFL standout, Porter has the skill to match his high-end pedigree. He finished his college career with just one interception, but he recorded 11 pass breakups in 2022 alone.
He’s a top-tier cover corner who excels in man coverage, which will make him a favorite of Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.
No. 48 overall — Noah Sewell, linebacker, Oregon
The Lions add another Sewell with their first pick of the second round. Noah, the brother of Detroit’s right tackle Penei, is a hard-hitting linebacker who would fit perfectly next to 2022 sixth-rounder Malcolm Rodriguez.
Alex Anzalone, who has been a mainstay for the Lions at linebacker through the last two seasons, is currently a free agent. Whether he comes back remains to be seen, but Detroit could benefit from adding another young player at the position either way.
Sewell finished his college career with 218 tackles and two interceptions, a sign of what to expect. He’s a run-stopper by trade, but also has skills in pass coverage (an area where Detroit’s linebackers have struggled in recent years).
No. 55 overall (From Minnesota Vikings in T.J. Hockenson trade) — Sam LaPorta, tight end, Iowa
The decision to trade T.J. Hockenson left a big hole in terms of pass-catching production, which the Lions were able to fill with the trio of Brock Wright, Shane Zylstra and James Mitchell.
LaPorta could add another level of production at the position. He was a huge part of the passing game at Iowa, posting over 500 receiving yards each of the last two seasons.
There’s also a bit of symmetry here, as Hockenson was also an Iowa product. While it’s unlikely he’ll replicate his predecessor’s production with the Lions, LaPorta could be a very productive member of the passing game soon.
Though Jared Goff is undoubtedly the team’s starter in 2023, Holmes has admitted he’ll address the backup position. With Hooker, the Lions could add a young signal-caller who can benefit from time on the sideline and learning from Goff.
Hooker comes with a good story, as he made the most of his opportunity at Tennessee after transferring from Virginia Tech. He totaled 6,080 passing yards and 58 touchdowns in two seasons with the Volunteers, tossing just five interceptions during that time.
Hooker also accounted for over 2,000 rushing yards during his five-year college career.
He’s coming off an ACL injury suffered late in the college season, which could cause him to drop on draft boards. Injury history hasn’t bothered Holmes in the past, though, evident by his trading up to select Jameson Williams 12th overall in 2022 despite him coming off a similar knee injury.
Age is also a factor here. Hooker will be 25 heading into his rookie year. Still, the passer will have plenty of time to grow. Also, quarterbacks are playing deeper into their careers now, and Hooker may prove to have longevity even though he’s older than his draft class peers.
No. 154 overall — Deuce Vaughn, RB, Kansas State
The Lions enter the offseason with questions about their running backs. Jamaal Williams will be a coveted free agent, and D’Andre Swift has durability issues. The fifth round seems to be a good time to address the depth.
Vaughn had a standout year with the Wildcats in 2022, rushing for 1,558 yards and nine touchdowns. The previous year, he had 1,404 yards and 18 scores on the ground. He also contributed to the passing game, catching a total of 116 passes over three seasons.
A two-time All-American, Vaughn is a talented piece who falls this far due to questions about his size. His production is unquestionable, however, and he could wind up being a key cog in Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson’s unit early in his career.
Tracy Walker III will return from injury at some point, while Kerby Joseph emerged as a solid starter. In adding Owens, the Lions would be adding insurance at the position.
DeShon Elliott is a free agent, meaning his future with the Lions will be in limbo. If they’re not able to get a deal done, this position becomes a much bigger need. While Owens wasn’t as big of a box safety as Elliott was, he did log 74 tackles in 2022.
There’s an element of physicality with Owens, too, though his best trait is his coverage ability. He would provide good depth, while contributing on special teams early in his career.
No. 194 overall — Jake Moody, K, Michigan
Since Matt Prater left in free agency, the Lions have struggled to find stability at the kicker position. Riley Patterson was serviceable at the end of 2021, but was released in training camp.
Meanwhile, Michael Badgley was mostly consistent for the Lions this past season, finishing 20-of-24 on field-goal attempts. However, it took until Week 5 for the team to get him, as a result of struggles with Austin Seibert and Dominik Eberle.
If Detroit wants to find stability, it should consider drafting a kicker like Moody. He converted 29-of-35 attempts this season, including a Michigan record 59-yard kick before halftime of the Fiesta Bowl.
The 2021 Lou Groza Award winner is consistent with a big leg, which will be enticing for teams looking to lock down a kicker for the foreseeable future.