In pre-draft evaluations, two of the top edge rusher prospects have drawn comparison to a former Detroit Lions’ top pick.
Alabama’s Will Anderson is regarded as the top edge rusher in the 2023 draft, and Detroit Lions fans love envisioning him opposite Aidan Hutchinson. But it’s a solid class of edge rushers as a whole, with the next top-tier guys placed in order however someone might like to or how teams might prefer them as a fit for their defensive scheme.
Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson and Clemson’s Myles Murphy are in that upper tier of edge rushers a sliver below Anderson, and both are lined up to be first-round picks–possibly even top half of the opening round or top-10 overall. Wilson in particular feels unlikely to drop out of the top-10.
Wilson and Murphy should be on the Lions radar, with Wilson landing this past week as a particularly popular mock draft pick for them at No. 6 overall. At No. 6 and No. 18, Murphy was tabbed to the Lions in a few recent mocks.
Tyreek Wilson and Myles Murphy draw comp to former Detroit Lions top pick
Cynthia Frelund of NFL.com recently took an analytical view of six incoming edge rushers, with team fits and player comps. She had the Lions as the team fit for Murphy.
"Myles Murphy earned a 90.9 PFF run defense grade from 2020-2022, ranking first among ACC edge defenders and tied for third in the Power Five over that span. Murphy generated 39 run stops (tied for fourth among ACC edges) and 21 tackles for loss or no gain (second).TEAM FIT: Detroit LionsMy models strongly suggest Detroit could trade down from No. 6 and still pick up a talent like Murphy to pair with Aidan Hutchinson. Shoot, maybe he’s still there for the Lions’ second first-round pick at No. 18 overall. Since they already addressed the secondary in free agency, they have the flexibility to craft the best route to improving the defense as a whole."
As for Frelund’s player comps, one might make Lions’ fans cringe a little.
"PRO COMPARISON: Ezekiel Ansah/Travon Walker"
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com has Ansah as his comp for Wilson.
For those who need a reminder, Ezekial “Ziggy” Ansah was the fifth overall pick by the Lions in the 2013 NFL Draft. He had a nice start to his career, with eight sacks as a rookie, 7.5 sacks as a second-year man and 14.5 sacks during a Pro Bowl campaign his third year. Then it became an injury-hampered yo-yo, with two, 12 and four sacks in his final three seasons in Detroit. He spent the 2019 season with the Seattle Seahawks. Then he played two games for the San Francisco 49ers in 2020, and he has been out of the league since.
Being compared to Ansah is not all that flattering for Wilson or Murphy, and any team that drafts them will be hoping they get more than three or four good seasons out of them.