The Detroit Lions have taken a smart approach in the last couple drafts, and everything could start falling into place, especially if we peek ahead to 2023.
It hasn’t been an easy past decade for the Detroit Lions and their fans. Year after year of optimism and increasing expectations ended in heartbreak and just a couple postseason appearances. Combine that with watching their former franchise quarterback win a Super Bowl in his first season elsewhere (likely a bittersweet feeling) it’s hard to believe in the optimism.
This time, though, things could be different.
The approach the Lions had to the 2021 draft was a good one. They addressed the trenches well, securing a potential superstar in Penei Sewell and giving the interior of the defensive line some upgrades with a run stuffer and pass rusher.
With the clear improvement by end-of-season under Dan Campbell, the Lions headed to the 2022 NFL Draft with a plethora of draft capital. Instead of trying to force the issue at quarterback in one of the weaker classes in recent memory, they got aggressive. After getting Aidan Hutchinson with the second overall pick, they packaged 32, 34, and 66 for picks 12 and 46 from their division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings. With that 12th pick, they got their big-play threat in Jameson Williams. Because they’re in a long build, Williams doesn’t have to hurry back.
Josh Paschal has the versatility to move around the defensive line and explosive first step to threaten as a rusher from multiple spots. Kerby Joseph brings a ballhawking, turnover aspect to the secondary. Malcolm Rodriguez is a converted safety who plays with his hair on fire at the linebacker spot. James Mitchell has potential to be a TE2 in a receiving capacity.
While there are still some questions with the front seven and at corner, hopefully Hutchinson sparks the unit and Jeffrey Okudah can return and make an impact. Outside of that, the Lions have put everything in place to finally get a young quarterback and continuously build around him.
As we’ve peeked ahead to the 2023 NFL Draft here, the quarterback class looks better, especially with the (current) consensus top two guys. The Detroit Lions could be an improved team in 2022, but they have two first-round picks in 2023 to make a move up for a young signal-caller.
Things finally look to be falling into place for this Lions team, and getting a young quarterback will be that final puzzle piece. Until then, this team will be a competitive one, with a young, talented offensive line, impressive skill position players, and an improving defense. Their time will come.