Detroit Lions dissed in favor of division rival in 2023 rookie class ranking

The Detroit Lions' 2023 rookie class delivered bigger than most rookie classes, and certainly more than a division rival's rookie class, but don't tell that to a CBS Sports writer.

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

A not-so sneaky part of the Detroit Lions' success during the 2023 season was the performance of their rookie class.

Sam LaPorta set every single season franchise record for a tight end, rookie or otherwise, and set the league record for receptions by a rookie tight end.

Jahmyr Gibbs started a bit slowly, but he finished with 1,261 scrimmage yards and 11 total touchdowns before scoring a touchdown in all three playoff games.

Jack Campbell finished second on team with 95 total tackles, starting 12 games and playing in all 17.

Brian Branch had 74 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, three interceptions and a team-high 13 passes defensed.

Gibbs, Campbell, LaPorta and Branch, in that order, were the Lions' first four picks in the 2023 draft. High end production, and depth with all four making a meaningful contribution to a good team right away.

Detroit Lions' 2023 rookie class gets disrespectful place in ranking

Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports recently ranked the 2023 NFL rookie classes, 1-32, after Year 1.

The Lions are certainly....No. 2? The Houston Texans had the Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year (C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson), so they would be a worthy No. 1.

Nope, the Lions' rookie class is No. 4. Trapasso marked LaPorta, Gibbs, Campbell and Branch as "Year 1 hits."

"My word, what a class GM Brad Holmes compiled in Detroit. Gibbs was a lightning bolt out of the backfield and as a traditional runner -- he averaged 5.4 yards per touch and scored 11 touchdowns during the regular season. Campbell became a stud run defender the more he played, LaPorta broke the NFL rookie tight end receptions record by a mile, and Branch got Defensive Rookie of the Year votes for his versatile play at slot corner/safety."

The Texans' rookie class, with Stroud, Anderson and Tank Dell as the "hits", are indeed No. 1 on Trapasso's list. There's no issue there. Even No. 3, the Los Angeles Rams with Puka Nacua, Kobie Turner, Byron Young and Steve Avila as the "hits", isn't bad.

But at No. 2 is the Green Bay Packers, as Trapasso gave them six "Year 1 hits". But their two rookie tight ends, Luke Musgrave and Tyler Kroft, did not combined for the production LaPorta did by himself. It's worth noting Musgrave missed time with a lacerated kidney.

Jayden Reed had a nice rookie season, leading the Packers in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns (tied), and fellow wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks can be marked as a "hit" too.

Defensive lineman Karl Brooks and Colby Wooden were also marked as "Year 1 hits" for the Packers by Trapasso. Brooks had four sacks in a part-time role, but to label him a "wrecking ball late in the season and into the playoffs" is a stretch. The "respectable production" from Wooden was 0.5 sacks and 20 total tackles in 19 games counting the playoffs.

At worst, the Lions' 2023 rookie class should have been No. 3 on Trapasso's list. Only a Packers' fan, or a closet Packers' fan, would give them six "Year 1 hits" from their 2023 rookie class. For some context, no other team was given more than four "hits."

The Lions certainly don't care about these kinds of rankings. But anyone ranking the Packers' 2023 rookie class above theirs hits a little different, and it's ridiculous.


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