Brad Holmes has built the Detroit Lions into a playoff contender quickly, and ranking lists of general managers around the NFL are taking notice.
Brad Holmes took on a tough rebuild when he became Detroit Lions general manager in 2021. It was made more challenging by quarterback Matthew Stafford’s amicable and understandable immediate desire to be traded. A 3-13-1 campaign that first year was an expected mark, but ideally Year 2 under Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell would be a positive step.
After a poor start last season, the Lions went 8-2 over their last 10 games to finish 9-8 and just shy of the playoffs. A build through the draft foundational approach is sure to continue this year, with four of the first 55 picks as we speak, but Holmes moved into an aggressive mode in free agency this March and it was a welcome shift in mentality.
Everything Holmes is doing is being met with positivity right now, and it’s hard to argue with the sentiment beyond some very small points. As it turns out, the work is getting noticed.
Brad Holmes vaults up NFL.com general manager rankings
A year ago, having only been in his job a year and an assessment naturally tough, Holmes was not ranked on NFL.com’s general manager rankings. This year, writer Gregg Rosenthal has the Lions general manager at No. 7.
"Holmes has done virtually no wrong since arriving. He preceded Dan Campbell by a week and pivoted from the Matthew Stafford era with a home run trade that helped quickly build a roster spawning the most unbridled Lions enthusiasm in memory…After two top-shelf drafts and a smart free agency haul that focused on improving the secondary, Holmes has more than earned the benefit of the ever-present doubt in Detroit."
Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus, albeit behind a paywall, put superlatives on some NFL general managers and it’s easy to assume Holmes got some acknowledgement.
But let’s take stab at where Holmes might sit in some of the areas PFF mentioned.
Best Day 3 Drafter? Here’s a look at who Holmes has notably drafted in Rounds 4-7.
2021, Fourth Round: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
2022, Sixth Round: LB Malcolm Rodriguez, LB/EDGE James Houston
Holmes of course made a bold trade up from No. 32 to No. 12 to get wide receiver Jameson Williams in last year’s draft. That seems like it will work out, but Williams has to fulfill his potential after working his way back from a torn ACL during his rookie season.
In any case, Holmes’ work is showing noticeable results. And for once, Lions’ fans can have full belief in what a lead executive is doing.