In another early 2023 mock draft, the Detroit Lions go defense-offense as they did in reality this year.
In a thin quarterback class, the obvious selection for the Detroit Lions at No. 2 overall in April’s draft was defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. Then came a trade up from No. 32 to No. 12 to get wide receiver Jameson Williams.
Courtesy of the Matthew Stafford trade, the Lions will have two first-round picks again next April. It’s considered a better quarterback class right now, and ESPN’s early mock draft had Detroit taking a quarterback in the top-10.
In a new, “way too early” mock draft from Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report, the Lions have the No. 3 and No. 28 picks. Projections that Detroit will again pick in the top-five defy the idea they have a good chance to double their win total from 2021 this year, but be that as it may.
2023 Mock Draft: Detroit Lions go defense, offense again
With the third overall pick, Ballentine has the Lions taking Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson.
"If this scenario plays out, then general manager Brad Holmes will be faced with a classic tough decision: take the best player available or reach for a quarterback.With both Stroud and Young off the board, the Lions would be reaching for any passer. Instead, the most dominant defender emphasized through winning the Bronko Nagurski Trophy would be the obvious choice. No defensive player in college football had a bigger impact on games than Will Anderson Jr. this season."
Last season, Anderson had 101 total tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks, as he finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting. As Ballentine put it, he was “impossible to block.”
Imagine an edge rusher duo of Anderson and Hutchinson for the Lions over the next several years….
With the 28th pick, Ballentine has the Lions taking Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee.
In his first season as the starter for the Cardinal last year, McKee’s stats were not eye-popping (2,327 yards, 15 touchdowns, seven interceptions, four rushing touchdowns in 10 games). But he has NFL size (6-foot-6, 228 pounds), and last year then-Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal noted his skill set and command of Stanford’s offense.
"The quarterback is as good of a quarterback as we’ve seen, not only this year, in years past,” “He is a guy who has complete control of the offense. He is quick and efficient with his reads. Tremendous arm. Accurate.”"
Here’s what Ballentine wrote about McKee.
"Tanner McKee’s statistics aren’t likely to make a huge impression. Andrew Luck was one of the best quarterback prospects of the last 20 years and he still didn’t put up gaudy numbers within the Stanford Cardinal offense.That doesn’t mean McKee doesn’t have a shot at getting into the first-round conversation, though.McKee is reminiscent of fellow Stanford quarterback and current Texans quarterback Davis Mills. The 2021 second-round draftee was relatively overlooked because of his numbers at Stanford but ended up putting up better numbers than every other rookie outside of Mac Jones.If you re-drafted the 2021 class, Mills would go much higher. NFL teams won’t make the same mistake with McKee. The Lions would be happy to snag him as the replacement for Jared Goff in this scenario."
There’s obviously a long way to go before the 2023 draft, and things will change. But the top edge rusher in the class and a quarterback who has untapped potential would be a nice haul for the Lions in the first round next April.