The Detroit Lions are 6-2 at their bye week, and the schedule looks pretty good moving forward. So many fans would like to just bask in that glow, and not think anything specific about the future just yet (2024 free agency, the 2024 draft).
But the bye week can be a nice time to reflect on what the team has done, and look to the future beyond the end of a season. The Lions have the look of a sustainable contender, and there's no reason to think that won't continue based on Brad Holmes' draft record.
So if you think it's too early for 2024 NFL Draft stuff, even with Detroit and the Lions hosting the event, that's understandable and fine. It also means this is probably a stopping point for you in this particular article, since from here it's going to be all about a recent mock draft that was put out there.
So without further warning...
Bye week mock draft has Detroit Lions keeping talent cupboard well-stocked
Ian Valentino of Pro Football Network released a seven-round 2024 mock draft ahead of Saturday's Week 10 college football action.
With the 29th overall pick, first round of course, Valentino has the Lions taking Ohio State cornerback Denzel Burke.
Injuries and a scheme change put Denzel Burke into a troublesome position in 2022, but the Buckeyes cornerback has been stellar thus far in 2023. A speedy, playmaking, and active player, Burke has the profile of a difference-maker in the Detroit Lions secondary. His ability to play inside and outside and match any receiver’s athleticism has boosted his stock.
The only outside cornerback the Lions currently have under contract beyond this season is Cameron Sutton. So it's easy to match them with a corner early in the 2024 draft, and Burke is also the pick for the Lions in the first round of Tankathon's latest mock.
In the second round, with pick No. 62, Valentino has the Lions taking North Carolina wide receiver Devontez "Tez" Walker.
"Averaging almost 100 yards per game since he was declared eligible to play with Maye at North Carolina, Tez Walker is back on the NFL’s radar for 2024.The 6’3″ vertical threat has been as impactful as the Tar Heels had hoped upon his arrival from Kent State. He’s too big, fast, and polished on posts and go routes for college defenders to slow him down consistently."
In 2022 at Kent State, Walker had 11 receiving touchdowns and 921 yards (15.9 yards per catch). As Valentino noted, transferring to play with a top NFL prospect quarterback has been good for him after the NCAA finally fixed his eligibility situation.
In the third round, Valentino has the Lions taking Alabama linebacker Deontae Lawson (No. 84 overall) and Michigan guard Zak Zinter (No. 93 overall).
Alabama linebackers can be tough to trust, given their history since Nick Saban arrived. Deontae Lawson isn’t as bulky as his predecessors, making him a better weak-side fit than a middleman.
Detroit has done well with lesser athletes than what Lawson is, so they could stash him for a year before he takes on a bigger role.
No one would be surprised to hear that most of Michigan’s offensive line has been lights out this year, including Zak Zinter. With Detroit struggling to consistently find available bodies at guard, Zinter is an affordable and healthy player to plug into one of the league’s best units.
Linebacker doesn't stand out as a great need for the Lions, but taking Lawson would add depth. The Lions could have two new starting guards next year, with Jonah Jackson in the final year of his contract and Halapoulivaati Vaitai likely in his last season as a Lion. Zinter would be a plug-and-play option at right guard, where he has played at a high level for the Wolverines.
The Lions don't currently have a fourth-round next April, due to the T.J. Hockenson trade that gave them an extra third-rounder. So in Rounds 5-7, Valentino has them going with the following.
Fifth Round, Pick No, 157: NC State OT Anthony Belton
Sixth Round, Pick No. 190: UCF DT Ricky Barber
Seventh Round, Pick No. 221: Ohio WR Sam Wiglusz
Potential immediate starters at cornerback, right guard and maybe wide receiver (Walker). Added depth otherwise. Here in early November it almost doesn't matter who the names are, but if the Lions came out of the 2024 draft with that as the accounting it would be a nice hau