The Detroit Lions are in the thick of the playoff race, but there are plenty of teams that have moved on to the 2023 offseason, and that means the fake draft season is heating up. Last week, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler released their first mock draft of the season and we restarted our series of Lions mock draft roundups over the weekend.
ESPN got in on the action on Tuesday, and Todd McShay dropped his fictional first draft of the 2023 season (subscription required). Like most mock drafts in production right now, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter and Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson were all off the board in the first three picks, leaving the Lions with some interesting picks at the No. 4 pick overall. .
Let’s take a look at where McShay placed the Lions with their two first-round picks.
Round 1, choose 4 (via rams): CJ Stroud, QB, ohio state
Stroud is a very popular pick for the Lions right now. In our last mock draft roundup, 10 of the 12 mock drafts we looked at all went with the Ohio State signal caller.
Let’s listen to McShay and his reasoning for the projection:
“Everything fell perfectly for the Lions here, allowing them to draft their signalman of the future without progressing. Stroud has thrown 37 touchdown passes this season – and he still has two games left – and is third in the nation in QBR (87.7). Jared Goff has been playing well under center lately, but he’s not the long-term answer. Stroud — who makes good decisions with football, displays great touch and has a big arm — could learn behind Goff for a season before Detroit moves on and builds around a talented passer on a rookie contract. Detroit has a top-five offense right now (26.2 ppg), and a pretty good supporting cast is already in place.
While there’s a clear case for the Lions grabbing Stroud with the future in mind, Goff didn’t just “play well,” he played far beyond expectations. In fact, Goff has taken control of this offense, makes the case for longevity in Detroit, and there are compelling counterpoints to be made that the Lions should build around Goff in the near future.
It will be interesting to see if draft analysts change their minds if the Lions pick moves up into the top 3 and/or if Goff continues to improve his game.
With the Lions’ next pick, McShay has Detroit selected…
Round 1, Pick 16: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Again, McShay is sticking to the majority of mock drafts with his selection of Porter, who was the Lions’ most projected player there in our latest roundup of mock drafts, including being paired with Detroit. by Brugler and former POD writer, Kent Lee Platte, who is now with Professional football network.
Back to McShay for his reasoning:
“OK, time to address the Lions defense. We’re all excited about the potential of Will Levis (sic) in this offense, but if they continue to give up 6.2 yards per play (last in the NFL ), it won’t matter too much. Jeff Okudah has had his ups and downs after being the third overall pick in 2020, and Amani Oruwariye and Mike Hughes are both set to be free agents in the spring. Porter — the son of former Steelers rusher Joey Porter — is my best cornerback, showing top-notch reconnaissance skills, and he would give this defense more flexibility in the scheme. season, but he had 11 pass breakups.Detroit trailed the first round with two hard-nosed, physical playmakers on either side of the ball.
It’s a little surprising that McShay didn’t have a corner on the board before the No. 16 pick, but it’s even more interesting that he has Porter as his top corner. Most of the pundits who have released the first big boards have Porter as the safe first round, but Brugler and The Draft Network have him as the third corner, PFF ranks him fourth, while Platte’s network ranks him second.
Also, it’s worth addressing the edit snafu in the second sentence, where it refers to the Lions picking Levis instead of his actual pick, Stroud, at pick #4. Stroud is usually identified as the QB2 in this class, but as the draft process unfolds, don’t be surprised if you start to see Levis mocked higher up because of his “NFL traits.” It’s very possible that McShay originally took the Lions to take Levis – who went to No. 6 to the Falcons in his fake draft – but changed him, and the change was missed in the Lions section.
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