Todd McShay’s first 2023 mock draft is out, and the Detroit Lions go with a quarterback early.
For the first time in years, the Detroit Lions are playing meaningful football games (for something besides draft position) in December. They have won five of their last six games, and at 6-7 they are in the playoff mix.
So Lions fans surely don’t want to think about April and the 2023 draft. But with two first-round picks, and two second-rounders, they will be in position to add significant talent to the roster coming off what looks to be a huge step this season.
It’s something of an event each pre-draft season, and it’s out now. Mock Draft 1.0 for 2023 from ESPN’s Todd McShay (subscription required) was released on Tuesday morning. It’s only the first round, but still a point of interest.
Detroit Lions take a quarterback in Todd McShay 2023 mock
The Lions first 2023 first-round pick, via the Rams, still sits in the top-five (No. 4 overall) after Week 14’s results. Their own pick sits at No. 15.
So who does McShay have Detroit taking with their two first-round picks?
At No. 4, McShay has the Lions going with Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud (h/t to Justin Rogers of The Detroit News for the quotes from McShay’s piece).
"Everything fell perfectly for the Lions here, allowing them to draft their signal-caller of the future without moving up,” McShay writes. “Stroud has thrown 37 touchdown passes this season — and still has as many as two games left — and is third in the nation in QBR (87.7). Jared Goff has played well under center of late, but he’s not the long-term answer. Stroud — who makes good decisions with the football, displays great touch and has a big arm — could learn behind Goff for a season before Detroit moves on and builds around a talented passer on a rookie deal.”"
Some think Goff is establishing himself as the Lions quarterback of the future. But it’s fair to question that, and the Lions should not turn down a chance to draft a top quarterback prospect if there is a realistic one.
At pick No. 16, McShay has the Lions taking Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr.
"We’re all excited about the potential of C.J. Stroud in that offense, but if they keep giving up 6.2 yards per play (last in the NFL), it won’t matter too much,” McShay writes. “Jeff Okudah has been up and down after being the No. 3 overall pick in 2020, and Amani Oruwariye and Mike Hughes are both expected to be free agents in the spring. Porter — the son of former Steelers edge rusher Joey Porter — is my top cornerback, showcasing high-level recognition skills, and he’d give that defense more scheme flexibility. He didn’t have a pick this season, but he did have 11 pass breakups. Detroit walks away from Round 1 with two playmakers on either side of the ball.”"
Jeff Okudah has emerged this season, and Jerry Jacobs definitely adds something to the Lions’ defense no one else quite does with his physical, high-energy style. But you never have too many good cornerbacks, and McShay’s board thinned of viable front seven players in the middle of the first round.
What do you think, Lions fans? A quarterback and a cornerback feels like a pretty good result for the two first-round picks next April, though it is very early.