2023 NFL Draft: Detroit Lions
The Dan Campbell experience in Detroit is electric, and exactly what the NFL needed. The charismatic coach went 3-13-1 in his first season with the team and quickly led the group’s turnaround to 9-8 playoff contenders this season. The franchise has young cornerstone talent in Penei Sewell, Aidan Hutchinson, and Amon-Ra St. Brown, and a bunch of other core guys that are plus players for this roster (Houston, J. Williams, Ragnow, etc.). The Lions had the youngest team in the NFL in 2022; with another great draft this year, the future looks bright. A relevant Detroit Lions team makes the league more fun.
Top Draft Needs: IDL, CB, TE
One key area of opportunity for Detroit is the interior defensive line. This is a team that ranked 29th in the league in rush defense, allowing 146.5 yards per game. Interior defenders accounted for only 3.5 sacks. Adding a defensive tackle that can generate inside pressure could elevate this defense dramatically and also afford Aidan Hutchinson (and James Houston) more appealing matchups outside.
The Lions fared no better against the pass, allowing 245.8 yards per game (30th). Jeff Okudah finally started to look like the cornerback the Lions expected when drafting him third overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Outside of Okudah, unfortunately, the secondary struggled mightily. The Lions need to add a cornerback in April, while safety could also use an upgrade. I would expect additions to the linebacker room as well.
Lastly, this is a Dan Campbell-led football team. For years, Campbell made his living as a gritty tight end. That’s why it was so confounding to see the Lions move away from T.J. Hockenson midseason. Future contract considerations were surely a factor, and the Lions did acquire draft capital in the move. If Detroit only spends one draft pick on offense this year, I expect that to be at the tight end position.