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Draft Coverage

TWENTYMAN: 5 takeaways from 2023 NFL Draft

The 2023 NFL Draft is in the books.

"Obviously thrilled with how the weekend went," Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes said in his post-draft press conference Saturday. "Every single pick we are excited about. We're trying to win games and that's why we acquired these players."

Here are my five biggest takeaways from draft weekend:


There was a lot of talk Thursday night about the value of taking running back Jahmyr Gibbs and stacked linebacker Jack Campbell in the first round at picks No. 12 and 18. Those aren't always considered high valued positions in the early and middle parts of the first round.

But this is a wide-open NFC North in 2023, and Holmes and the Lions believe they have a win-now roster. Gibbs and Campbell will both be impact players right away on offense and defense.

"I know a lot will be said, 'You acquired a running back in the first round?' We didn't acquire a running back in the first round," Holmes said. "We acquired an elite weapon to keep our offense explosive in the first round.

"We didn't acquire an inside linebacker in the first round. We acquired a legit anchor to elevate our defense in the first round. That's what the ultimate goal is."


Gibbs steps into a running back 1A and 1B role with veteran David Montgomery Day 1. Don't be surprised if we see him line up at receiver some too. He's a fun chess piece for offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.

Campbell and veteran Alex Anzalone will be the stacked linebackers. Campbell is expected to make an immediate difference as a run defender for a Lions' defense that ranked 29th against the run in 2022.

Sam LaPorta has a chance to be tight end No. 1 on Day 1, and that will be a fun competition to watch develop with Brock Wright, James Mitchell and Shane Zylstra vying for roles too.

Holmes did a heck of a job revamping Detroit's secondary this offseason. Tracy Walker, Kerby Joseph, Cam Sutton, Emmanuel Mosely, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Brian Branch give the Lions a ton of talent and depth. That group has a chance to be Detroit's most improved unit in 2023. Branch could push for a role on defense early on.

Brodric Martin gives the Lions some beef they lacked and will be a rotational player to begin with in the center of their defensive front. Colby Sorsdal will compete for a swing tackle or right guard role. Antoine Green could surprise some people and get on the field early as a vertical threat at the wide receiver position.


Holmes said he didn't do a good enough job addressing the quarterback room behind Jared Goff his first two seasons with other roster areas needing attention first. Now he believes the roster is at a point where shoring up that room was in the plan this offseason.

The team re-signed Nate Sudfeld and reportedly offered free agent Teddy Bridgewater a contract. Now Hendon Hooker is in the mix coming out of the draft.

Hooker likely fell to the third round due to the ACL injury he suffered in November. The 2023 season might be a medical redshirt for Hooker (there's a chance we could see him on the practice field the second half of this season), but he'll have a chance to compete for a backup role or more starting in 2024.


Branch was projected to be a first-round pick, but the Lions were able to move up in the second round to select the versatile Alabama defensive back No. 45 overall.

Branch predominantly lined up in the slot but he also played on the back end at safety and matched up with tight ends. It's a crowded Lions secondary after the additions made in free agency, but Branch can do a lot of different things and can be deployed as a moveable matchup piece with his skillset.

He started at Alabama as a freshman, which isn't easy to do and shows his football IQ. He recorded 90 tackles, 14.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, two interceptions and seven defended passes this past season for the Crimson Tide. At the very least, he could be a core special teamer and sub-package player on defense early on to begin his career.


Holmes said going into his third draft cycle he felt much more comfortable reading his board and having a pulse on what was happening around the league to help facilitate a lot of movement both up and down in this draft.

Holmes made six trades over three days, five while on the clock to go up or down for draft picks. He added a sixth trade early Saturday when he sent running back D'Andre Swift to Philadelphia for a 2025 fourth-round pick.

"I felt a lot more comfortable doing that this year," Holmes said after the draft. "We made a couple trades last year but this year, especially when you get into Day 2 to maneuver around, you just learn as you go and as you get more experience. You get more comfortable at it in terms of kind of reading it and feeling it and making calls."

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