Detroit Lions add front seven and offensive skill talent in Todd McShay mock

Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Texas Tech defensive lineman Tyree Wilson (DL49) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Texas Tech defensive lineman Tyree Wilson (DL49) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

In Todd McShay’s new mock draft, the Detroit Lions add pieces on both sides of the ball in equal measure.

The Detroit Lions are in as good a spot as any team heading toward the 2023 NFL Draft, with four of the top-55 overall picks, six of the top-81 and the ability to go any direction and not be wrong. A promising team will add another big chunk of notable young talent to the mix.

ESPN’s Todd McShay is out with a new mock draft (subscription required), going two rounds this time (this is where you go “ooh” and aah”).

So what does McShay have the Lions doing with their first four picks?

At No. 6 overall, McShay has the Lions taking Texas Tech defensive end Tyree Wilson.

"This pick has to be defense. Detroit was miserable in that department last season, and it was the reason it came up short in the playoff hunt…. Adding Wilson to a young edge-rushing contingent that already includes Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston could create real conflict for opponent pass-protectors, though. He had seven sacks in 2022 for a second straight year, and his arm length and pure power jump out on tape."

Wilson is a physical freak, with a massive wingspan. He can also line up across the defensive line, making him a nice fit for the Lions as he tries to turn potential into consistent production at the next level.

Detroit Lions add talent to both sides of the ball in new McShay mock

At No. 18 overall, McShay gets interesting for the Lions with Texas running back Bijan Robinson.

"Fans will question just about any landing spot for Robinson because of his position, but consider how heavily the Lions lean on the run and what Robinson can do for an offense. We’re talking about a top-five talent in this class who can break free with burst through the hole, make defenders miss with his strength and haul in passes with his reliable hands. Jamaal Williams is gone to 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 has rushed for 100-plus yards just three times over the past two seasons. Robinson only had three games under 100 rushing yards last year.Other options for Detroit include tight end or continuing down the defensive rebuild path, but with four picks in the first two rounds, it can afford to make this luxury selection and fill some other holes down the road."

It takes a special breed of running back to be drafted in the first round, but Robinson appears to be that kind. He would be a luxury selection for the Lions, as McShay hinted, and drafting him would likely push a conversation about trading D’Andre Swift to the forefront.

At No. 48, in the second round, McShay has Detroit taking Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell.

"Campbell posted more than 120 tackles in each of the past two seasons, and he’d compete for snaps with Alex Anzalone and Malcolm Rodriguez in the middle of this defense undergoing a big overhaul.”"

Even though it’s easy to lament from a broad view, the Lions seem to like their linebackers and thus they don’t seem likely to invest a top-50 overall pick in one. But Campbell could push for a starting job right away, and in the big picture he’d be hard to turn away from at 48.

With the 55th overall pick, McShay has the Lions going back to the Iowa Hawkeye well with tight end Sam LaPorta.

"LaPorta makes it 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 over four seasons for 1,786 yards and five scores. He has speed down the seam and tempos his routes effectively. LaPorta could step in for T.J. Hockenson, who was traded to Minnesota at the deadline last season.”"

The idea of drafting a tight end early, even second round, is sure to make some Lions’ fan shudder and others will lean into how good the offense was without T.J. Hockenson last season. But there’s a need to add talent to the depth chart, and for what it’s worth they met with LaPorta at the scouting combine.

McShay’s mock is a reflection of the good spot the Lions are in for this year’s draft. There’s a solid case for all four of these guys to actually be the pick at these spots if they’re there, with eyes on taking the best player available to bolster the roster.

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