After trading away cornerback Jeff Okudah to the Falcons, are the Detroit Lions locked in to a cornerback early in the 2023 NFL Draft?
We have a trade on this fine Tuesday, one that involves a former first-round pick. Jeff Okudah was picked third overall in the 2020 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, a move and a process that looked good at the time. Three seasons later, Okudah has battled injury and inconsistent play, never really getting into a groove. Now, he heads to Atlanta for a fifth-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft.
On the Lions side of things, it clears up and steers a need back to corner in the 2023 NFL Draft. It’s great that the Lions have signed Cam Sutton to a three-year deal and Emmanuel Mosley to a one-year contract. But, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee much long-term. Will Harris could stay in the slot and Sutton could man the outside, but there isn’t much guaranteed for that group beyond this coming season.
When it comes to that sixth overall pick, the Detroit Lions will have options. The pass rush could use some help. If Will Anderson is available, it won’t be a question. He was reportedly in for a visit recently and could pair really well with Aidan Hutchinson. Tyree Wilson, Myles Murphy, and Lukas Van Ness will all be available if that’s the true direction.
But, as we mentioned before, the corner room isn’t set long-term, and there will be two excellent options for the Lions with that sixth selection. Both Christian Gonzalez and Devon Witherspoon are bona-fide first-round talents at the position, and both could be considered as top five defenders in the draft.
Gonzalez has the size for the position, a track background that shows up with his play speed, impressive hip fluidity in terms of transitioning vertically or getting back into phase, and a 2022 season that featured an impressive leap with ball production. He’s instinctive in zone coverage, can play in press, man or zone, and is a reliable tackler in space. Gonzalez is the the player that has it all, and if he busts, the process was good.
Witherspoon is a bit more undersized, weighing in at 181 pounds. However, he plays fast and physical and would fit in really well with the intensity and tone that Dan Campbell likes to have in Detroit. He’s outstanding in run support and tackling in space. Witherspoon has impressive technique and patience in his pedal, and can quickly transition downhill or flip his hips to run with receivers vertically. He can find the football to create turnovers and stays disruptive at the catch point. His recognition skills with routes is impressive, and he can often break in step with receivers.
Having either Christian Gonzalez or Devon Witherspoon in the corner room is a great move by the Detroit Lions, and it’s why those two should be the favorites to be the pick at six for the Detroit Lions. Both are strong bets at this point. Witherspoon has the temperament that fits, and Gonzalez the excellent size/speed combination. They can’t go wrong, but that should be penciled in for the 2023 NFL Draft.