The 2023 NFL Draft is less than two weeks away. Entering the draft, the Detroit Lions were among those with the most draft capital. They recently added to it by trading Jeff Okudah to the Atlanta Falcons.
Barring another trade, the Lions enter the 2023 NFL Draft with nine draft picks. Detroit has two picks each in the first and second rounds, and two picks in the fifth round. They own five picks within the top 100.
The Lions made big moves at last year’s draft. After selecting Michigan star Aidan Hutchinson second overall, they pulled off an intra-division trade from 32 to 12 for Alabama pass-catcher Jameson Williams.
With heightened expectations, this draft is crucial for Detroit to get right. What will the NFC North hopefuls do on draft night? Here are three big predictions.
3. Detroit Lions trade D’Andre Swift
The Lions broke many hearts this offseason by not re-signing fan favorite Jamaal Williams. They brought in David Montgomery on a three-year deal. However, more changes will come during the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Lions will trade D’Andre Swift during the draft. The former Georgia product hasn’t made himself into a star in the Motor City, so general manager Brad Holmes gives him a fresh start.
Swift joined the Lions in 2020 as a second-round pick. He has flashed potential as a number-one running back, but injuries have prevented him from truly living up to his potential.
Swift is an unrestricted free agent after the 2023 season. It’s hard to imagine Detroit re-signing the Georgia product, barring some insane bounce-back scenario where Montgomery misses time.
The Lions gather a bit more draft capital this year for a player they likely won’t re-sign next season. Swift gets a fresh start with a team that likely features him more prominently than Detroit. A win-win for all involved.
2. Lions do NOT draft Bijan Robinson, even with Swift gone
Most fans likely read the last prediction and thought this one entailed the Lions drafting Texas running back Bijan Robinson to replace Swift. However, the Lions will not draft Robinson, even with Swift out the door.
This is not a knock on Robinson, who is undoubtedly one of the best running back prospects in recent memory. It has more to do with the fact that the Lions simply have other, more pressing needs.
Even in the event of a D’Andre Swift trade, Detroit has other issues to address. Last season, their offense was elite while their defense was historically bad. That needs to change if they want to make a run toward the playoffs.
The Lions have addressed their defense in free agency. They signed Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Cameron Sutton, and Emmanuel Moseley to bolster their secondary. However, they have yet to address their defensive front seven, beyond re-signing Alex Anzalone and bringing back Jalen-Reeves Maybin.
The Lions will pass on drafting Robinson, and grab a Swift replacement in the later rounds. Detroit spends its two first-round picks on their defensive line while grabbing a linebacker in the second round.
1. Lions trade up, but not for a quarterback
A Swift trade may not happen on Day 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft. However, the Lions will still make a trade that night, moving up to grab a game-changing defensive prospect and doing business with the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals and Lions will strike a deal involving the third overall pick in the draft. Detroit selects Alabama pass-rusher Will Anderson, while Arizona has its choice of cornerbacks with the sixth pick.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Would Arizona actually trade back? Would they do a trade with Detroit if they do not also receive the 18th overall pick in return? Does Detroit move up for a quarterback instead?
Well, the Cardinals are reportedly open to trading the third overall pick. A three-spot switch may allow Detroit to hold onto the 18th pick in this scenario. And while a quarterback is a possibility, defense helps them more.
Any quarterback the Lions draft in 2023 likely doesn’t see the field in their rookie season. The Lions are committed to Jared Goff for this season. And there are rumors of Detroit’s interest in backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Detroit brings in Anderson and pairs him with Hutchinson to form one of the best young pass-rushing duos in the league. And that isn’t even mentioning 2022 sixth-round stand James Houston, either.
Detroit has proven they are not afraid to aggressively pursue a player they love. They did it last year with Jameson Williams. If a deal works for them and Arizona, don’t be surprised if the Lions do it again this season with Anderson.
The post Lions: 3 bold predictions in 2023 NFL Draft, including trading D’Andre Swift appeared first on ClutchPoints.