3 Detroit Lions who can safely be called busts after the 2023 season

After a highly successful 2023 season for the team, these three Detroit Lions players can be safely called busts.

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3. TE James Mitchell

Mitchell, come off a torn ACL early in his final college season at Virginia Tech, was an interesting fifth-round flier for the Lions in the 2022 draft. As T.J. Hockenson moved toward getting a big contract, it was ok to not rush him into action as a rookie with a possibility he could become a future starter.

Before last April's draft, then-new Lions' tight ends coach Steve Heiden had high hopes for Mitchell moving toward his second season.

"Here’s a kid that was coming off an ACL last year and that’s hard to do,” Heiden said. “I had to do that myself as a player, and you’re really not yourself that whole next year, so it was a lot of credit to him just being out there playing.The things you see on tape, you see the athletic tools and some of the things he can do movement wise, and we’re going to grow and build off of that as we go this year. So I’m excited to get him his second year off the ACL. I think that’s an important year to grow and develop. I think there’s a lot of room to grow there for him.”

Of course the Lions drafted Sam LaPorta a couple weeks later, re-setting expectations and the level of opportunity for Mitchell. He played in 15 games last season, starting one and catching both of his targets for 28 yards. He could not usurp the highly mediocre Brock Wright as the No. 2 tight end.

Wright is a restricted free agent and he seems to be well-liked by the coaching staff, thus he's pretty likely to be back in 2024. It's a stretch to call a fifth-round pick a bust. But Mitchell has not come anywhere close to reaching his perceived potential through two seasons, and there's not a lot of hope he will.