Detroit Lions pre-NFL Combine 7-round 2023 mock draft
The Lions do not currently have a fourth-round pick in the 2023 draft, so they will go more than 70 picks between selections as we stand right now.
Brooks is a top-50 player on PFF’s Big Board (No. 49). Level of competition in the MAC may ding his draft stock, but his production improved year-over-year of his five years at Bowling Green. Last season, he had 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss.
Brooks is regarded as bit of a tweener–not big enough to play nose tackle and lacking the physical traits to be a defensive end at the next level. As a three-technique though, with a modicum of versatility, he could be an effective piece of a defensive line immediately at the next level.
Scruggs played center exclusively for the Nittany Lions last season, earning All-Big Ten Third Team honors. But he mostly played right guard in 2021, earning All-Big Ten Honorable Mention that year, and he played a little at all three interior line spots in college. Per NFL Draft Buzz, he’s a “solid all-around prospect, but he’s not elite in any one area.”
If the Lions lose Evan Brown in free agency and don’t replace him with a veteran, they’ll have a void to fill in terms of versatility on the offensive line. They are also likely to release right guard Halipoulivaati Vatai, so their guard depth could get thin really quick.
Scruggs might not be an immediate NFL starter, but he seems like an ideal pupil for Lions offensive line coach Hank Fraley.
Some people might say if the Lions are going to take a quarterback this late, why even bother taking a quarterback in this draft? But O’Connell might be on the radar late.
O’Connell started most of his final two seasons at Purdue, totaling 50 touchdown passes and 24 touchdown passes over that span. Last season he led the Big Ten in completions (320) and attempts (499) and was second in passing yards (3,412). In 2021 he was top-five conference in completion percentage (71.6 percent; second–fifth in FBS), passing yards (3,712; third), yards per attempt (8.4; third)) and passing touchdowns (28; second)).
O’Connell has good size (6-foot-3, 212 pounds) and solid all-around skills, without being outstanding in any singular area. His drop-off in numbers from 2021 to last season can be chalked up to losing top wide receiver David Bell to the NFL, and even then O’Connell was not dreadful as the Boilermakers won the Big Ten West.
O’Connell could develop into a solid NFL starter, or there may be a path to him having a long career as a backup. The upside and floor here are close, but the Lions could stand to have a young quarterback in their pipeline. If they don’t take one before Day 3 in this draft, O’Connell may be the guy.
The Lions don’t have a 2023 seventh-round pick right now.