ESPN’s Todd McShay dropped his latest mock two-rounder and helps the Detroit Lions on both sides of the ball.
As we begin to close the gap between free agency and 2023 NFL draftanalysts begin to expand their projections. ESPN’s Todd McShay released his latest mock draft on Tuesday, a full two-rounder, and focuses on the Detroit Lions adding 7-front depth on defense and offensive skill players.
The Lions have four picks in the first two rounds, so let’s get started right away.
Round 1, Pick No. 6: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Here is McShay’s reasoning for the selection:
“This selection has to be defensive. Detroit was miserable in that department last season, and that was the reason it came up short in the playoff hunt. The Lions were in the bottom three in yards allowed per rush (5.2), yards allowed per pass attempt (7.9), opponent QBR (56.0) and third-down defense (45.1%). However, adding Wilson to a contingent of young running backs that already includes Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston could create real conflict for opponents’ pass protectors. He had seven sacks in 2022 for the second year in a row, and the length of his arm and the sheer power of him stand out.
“I also considered the secondary with a handful of top-tier cornerbacks on the board, but the Lions have been aggressive in signing Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and CJ Gardner-Johnson in free agency. Detroit is back on the clock at No. 18 and has a couple of second-round picks.”
Nothing too surprising in this selection. Most analysts, fans, and even Vegas seem to point to the Lions targeting Wilson, Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter (who was already off the board), Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon (whom I selected in our mock draft from the POD community) and Oregon Corner Christian González.
All projections for Wilson seem to point to him being a top 10 pick, but his place within that group is up in the air. Some analysts have reported Wilson ahead of Alabama running back Will Anderson on some team boards, while others project an inconsistent clay model that is far from polished.
In The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman’s latest mock draft, where he gets quotes from coaches all over the league on players, he also pairs the Lions with Wilson at the No. 6 pick, but the quotes leave you wanting more. This is what one coach had to say about Wilson:
“He has the size and great length. I thought I played better a year ago. He affected the games more then. I left that game, thinking, ‘Man, he’s a guy. He is really good. But I didn’t think about choosing the lottery. He’s just not that consistent, but talent-wise, he’s definitely there.”
The other two quotes from Feldman’s article are still on the same page, suggesting potential, but speculating whether he’s worth a high pick.
With the Lions, they may not be too concerned about Wilson’s development stage because they have seven other cutting-edge running backs capable of contributing on a regular basis. Wilson’s positional flexibility will help his cause in the first year, as he can deploy in a variety of settings, but the thought of him coming to Allen Park and starting on day one like Aidan Hutchinson did last season seems like a stretch. realistic.
Round 1, Pick No. 18: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Here are McShay’s thoughts on the screening:
“Fans will question almost any landing spot for Robinson because of his position, but consider how lean the Lions are on the run and what Robinson can do for an offense. We’re talking a top-five talent in this class who can burst free down the hole, miss defenders with his force, and catch passes with his trusty hands. Jamaal Williams left for New Orleans, and D’Andre Swift has struggled to stay healthy and is entering the final year of his contract. Yes, Detroit signed David Montgomery, but he’s rushed for 100-plus yards just three times in the past two seasons. Robinson only had three games low 100 rushing yards last year.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, this would be the best running back drafted since the Giants took Saquon Barkley No. 2 in 2018. But Robinson is special. Other options for Detroit include tight end or continuing down the defensive rebuild path, but with four picks in the first two rounds, they can afford to make this top pick and fill a few other holes down the road.”
Position value aside, Robinson is an elite talent and would take the Lions’ offense to another level. Adding him to a running back room that includes Montgomery and Swift might seem like a stretch, but as McShay mentions above, Swift is frequently injured and is in the final year of his contract.
The Lions are set to add running talent to the roster this draft, and if he can get past the “value” aspect of the pick, Robinson at the Honolulu Blue would be a lot of fun.
Round 2, Pick No. 48: Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
Once again, here’s McShay:
“Campbell has recorded more than 120 tackles in each of the last two seasons, and he competed for plays with Alex Anzalone and Malcolm Rodriguez in the midst of this defense that was going through a major overhaul.”
Campbell is one of the few, maybe three? Four?: Linebackers in this draft class who can challenge to start at linebacker as rookies. Campbell has plenty of upsides, but would the Lions be willing to use the draft seed money at linebacker when his track record shows they don’t value the position much?
The Lions only field two linebackers on the field at a time, returning to their top three players from last year. This offseason, the Lions reinvested in Anzalone (a three-year contract with $9 million in guarantees) and he seems locked into the MIKE role, while Malcolm Rodriguez is a solid will and Derrick Barnes is in a reserve role backing up each one. from them. Adding Campbell would be a solid way to improve the overall unit, but it would also go against the Lions’ recent history at the position.
Round 2, Pick #55: Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
Here’s McShay’s final explanation:
“LaPorta gets to six (tight ends) in the first two rounds, which would tie the common draft era record set in 1974. But this class is that good. LaPorta was consistent at Iowa, catching 153 passes in four seasons for 1,786 yards and five scores. He has seam speed and tempos his routes effectively. LaPorta could step in to T.J. Hockensonwho was traded to Minnesota at the deadline last season.”
While Lions fans will likely need time to recover from the Lions drafting another tight end from Iowa, LaPorta would represent an upgrade at position and, like McShay’s other picks, would be competing for snaps in the first year.
The Lions met with South Dakota State’s LaPorta and Tucker Kraft at the NFL Combineas well as Luke Schoonmaker on Michigan’s pro day, suggesting Detroit may well be in the market for a tight end in this range of draft picks.