It’s hard not to go full Kanye on the haters here… You didn’t like the order that the picks came (I’m happy for you, and I’mma let you finish), but the Lions (Beyonce) put together one of the best damn draft classes (albums) in the league this year (of all time).
Seriously, though, the not so lowly Detroit Lions went out and found four bonafide starters in this year’s draft, dramatically improved their roster from a depth perspective, and appear to be geared up for a run at the NFC North in 2023. We really didn’t believe it was possible, but this Lions’ class is even hotter than the last, and the ceiling is looking a lot like the roof this year.
Lions Draft Grade: A
Two first, two second, and two third-round picks sounds like it would be a recipe for success in any NFL war room, but there’s a number of executive groups out there who could fumble that bag. One led by Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell, however, is not of that variety. Brian Branch, Jahmyr Gibbs, Jack Campbell and Sam Laporta are all going to play major roles for the Lions in the upcoming season, and that is all that matters. Neither hindsight nor the stat sheet will ever give a damn that those prospects were selected in a different order on the first two nights of the draft. Further, according to our big board, all tomato throwing over those two nights was unwarranted.
Each of those four prospects were individuals that could have made a day-one impact on any roster. The Lions just happened to be savvy enough to nab them all.
Four legit starters was just where the fun began for Lions fans over draft weekend. Hendon Hooker, one of the most glossed-over prospects in the entire draft cycle—and the new heir to the Lions’ quarterback room—was one of the cleanest pickups in all of day two. Hooker is going to sit behind the resurgent Jared Goff in his rookie campaign and study up on the best path to his role in continuing Detroit’s trajectory as a top-tier offense.
We often discuss the responsibility of a front office to support a young quarterback, but Hendon Hooker is stepping into a situation where a bed of roses awaits him. Weapons are abundant in Detroit these days, and the seasoned nature of his profile will likely assist him in comfortably transitioning into the NFL.
Broderic Martin is a player who I admittedly did not have a major pulse on, particularly as a top-100 prospect. Considering the strength of their first five picks, though, if Martin was a guy for them, he will become a guy for me. There appeared to be equal energy in the Lions’ war room when he was chosen 96th-overall as there was when Jahmyr Gibbs joined the squad with pick No. 12.
Simply put, the faith that exists within this program for the Lions’ front office is second to few others. Detroit opens up the 2023 season in Arrowhead Stadium against the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs, and I truly cannot wait. Expectations for rookie success always needs to be tempered, but with four legitimate starters arriving at camp in a few weeks, it’s hard not to buy all the way into the potential.