They will most certainly have to trade up for him if they want him, but should the Detroit Lions go all-in for Will Anderson?
As scheduled top-30 pre-draft visits go, the Detroit Lions having had one with Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson landed as a bit of a surprise. Widely regarded as a top-five pick and the best non-quarterback (if not the best overall player) in this year’s draft, the Lions’ chances to get him at No. 6 overall land somewhere between slim and none.
But it make sense for the Lions to do all their homework, and to rule nothing out. That includes getting to know Anderson better via a visit as they did, and the idea of trading up to get him if they like him enough.
The Arizona Cardinals have the third overall pick later this month, and they should be open for business. Their roster is among the worst in the league, and they need players. Moving down to accumulate more draft picks is the move to make, and plenty of teams with various motivations will be interested in moving up to No. 3.
2023 NFL Draft: Should the Detroit Lions go all-in for Will Anderson?
Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report had the Lions on his ranking of six teams most likely to trade up to the No. 3 with the Cardinals. Detroit lands low on the list (No. 5), but Knox’s case for them to do it is interesting
"With the first two selections almost guaranteed to be quarterbacks, prospects like Alabama pass-rusher Will Anderson Jr.—the top-ranked prospect on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department’s big board—will be available at No. 3. Detroit could have its pick of defensive prospects by moving up a mere three spots.Pairing a prospect like Anderson with 2022 second overall pick Aidan Hutchinson would give Detroit two legitimate difference-makers on its new-look defense."
Using the DraftTek/Rich Hill draft pick value chart, updated for this year, Arizona’s third overall pick is worth 2,200 points. The Lions pick at No. 6 is worth 1,600 points. The Lions’ own original second-round pick, No. 48, is worth 420 points. So tack on say, a 2024 Day 2 pick, and you get to equal (or a little more than) the pick value for No. 3.
Using the legendary Jimmy Johnson pick value chart, the aforementioned pick values (No. 3, No. 6 and No. 48) are the same.
Over The Cap’s Fitzgerald-Spielberger pick value chart is a little different. No. 3 overall is worth 2,443 points. No. 6 is worth 2,092, No. 18 (the Lions’ second first-rounder) is worth 1,535 and No. 48 is worth 1,038. So within that, No. 18 and No. 48 would be closer to the value for No. 3 than No. 6 and No. 48. It’s fair to say this chart, were it interactive as a hypothetical trade machine, would tell the team giving up No. 6 and 48 for No. 3 not to do it.
There are possible scenarios where the Lions wouldn’t have to go all the way up to No. 3 to get Anderson. The Texans at No. 2 overall also may not be a lock to take a quarterback if recent chatter is true, so moving to there to get Anderson may be on the radar. The difference is the presumption the Cardinals are open for business at No. 3.
The Lions could just stand pat and come out of Round 1 with two players they’ll be happy to have. But general manager Brad Holmes showed he’ll be aggressive to go get someone they really like last year, with the big trade up to get Jameson Williams.
So if it’s Anderson they particularly like this year, with surefire regard for being in position to take the best player available, the Lions won’t be sitting idle in an effort to go get him.
A big-time talent with no red flags, Anderson would be as close to no-risk for the Lions to go all-in on to trade up and get as it gets.