5 best linebacker fits for Detroit Lions in the 2023 NFL Draft

Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /
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Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images /

2. Drew Sanders, Arkansas

For whatever it’s worth, Sanders had a top-30 visit with the Lions. He’s getting some first-round consideration in mock drafts, and he could go off the board late on Thursday night.

Sanders started his college career as a backup at Alabama. In search of a better opportunity to play, as one might be inclined to if he can’t climb Nick Saban’s depth chart, he transferred to Arkansas in 2022. He was then unveiled as a versatile chess piece in defensive coordinator Barry Odom’s scheme, with 103 total tackles, 9.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss and five pass breakups last season. Pro Football Focus credited him with 39 quarterback pressures last season (h/t to Ben Raven of MLive).

As easily expected, Sanders tested very well at the NFL Combine (4.65 40-yard dash at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, 9.98 Relative Athletic Score).

Simply put, Sanders showed himself as a playmaker in his one year as a college starter (you know, with the actual opportunity to start). He looks like a great fit for the Lions, and a linebacker they may have high enough on their draft board to take the plunge at No. 18 overall.