Film review: Breaking down Lions rookie linebacker Jack Campbell

Credit: HawkCentral-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: HawkCentral-USA TODAY Sports /

Jack Campbell was the best off-ball linebacker in the 2023 NFL Draft for some , but what does he bring to the Detroit Lions?

Jack Campbell was taken by the Detroit Lions with the 18th overall pick in this year’s draft. This pick was seen as another puzzling selection by Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell because the “experts” had a second-round grade on him.

Those same “experts” also said the positional value just isn’t there for an off-ball linebacker in the first round. But Campbell has the potential to be a long-term stalwart for the Lions, so that seems like good positional value to me.

I see Campbell replacing Anzalone in the “mike” linebacker spot. The Lions run a base nickel defense (4-2-5), with two linebackers on the field most of the time. I see Anzalone getting bumped to the position Malcolm Rodriguez occupied last year.

Anzalone should be better playing sideline-to-sideline, rather than being in the box all game. He has the speed and quickness Campbell and Rodriguez do not have, which makes him an ideal player for that spot. Campbell does possess a good burst, but hasn’t shown he’s as quick as Anzalone when out in space.

Film review: Taking a look at Lions rookie LB Jack Campbell

Here’s a look at a highlight clip from Campbell’s time at Iowa.

Campbell is an instant upgrade to the Lions’ linebacker room. He’s a reliable tacker, a capable blitzer and he’s more athletic than you might think before he dominated the testing at the NFL Combine.

Campbell will need to refine his game in coverage though. With him being so tall (6-foot-4), it will be harder for opposing quarterbacks to drop passes in over his head to tight ends over the middle and down the seam. But can he stick with guys like Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews in pass coverage? We will find out, since the Lions play both the Chiefs and the Ravens this year.

The Lions have improved their defense immensely this offseason. The additions made to the secondary during free agency were needed. The selection of Jack Campbell, at a position of some need too, will only make this defense better for years to come.

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