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Detroit Lions awards | 2023 season

The 2023 NFL season is officially in the books.

Although it ended a little short of the ultimate goal, it was still a special one for the Detroit Lions, who secured their first ever NFC North title and reached the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 1992.

It look a lot of standout performances and big moments to make it happen, so before we turn our focus fully to the offseason, let's give some Lions their flowers.

I asked the crew to hand out season awards, and these are the results:


Tim Twentyman: Offensive line

Detroit set single-season franchise records with 6,712 total net yards and 58 touchdowns scored in 2023. Even through injury, that group was one of the most dominant in football and the No. 1 reason the Lions were top five in the NFL in both rushing and passing.

Mike O'Hara: Quarterback Jared Goff

Production and leadership—he had it from the opening game win over the Chiefs until the finale vs. the 49ers.

PJ's Pick: Center Frank Ragnow

Ragnow's perseverance through a laundry list of injuries en route to a Pro Bowl selection, second-team All-Pro nod and grading out as PFF's best center makes him my team MVP. Goff and the offense as a whole aren't the same without 77 on the field.

Editor's Pick: Quarterback Jared Goff

Goff made difference-making plays all season. He led the Lions to their first NFC North title and two home playoff wins. There's a reason they were chanting Jar-ed Goff, Jar-ed Goff all over Michigan.

Offensive Player of the Year

Tim Twentyman: Quarterback Jared Goff

Goff had another stellar season finishing second among all quarterbacks in passing yards (4,575), fourth in touchdown passes (30), first in passing first downs (605) and second in 20-plus-yard completions (69). He is the perfect fit at quarterback in offensive coordinator Ben Johnson's scheme with his experience and skillset.

Mike O'Hara: Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown

119 catches, 1,515 yards and 10 TDs in the regular season. He earned his All-Pro selection.

PJ's Pick: Tackle Penei Sewell

A first-team All-Pro, PFF's highest-graded offensive lineman and a captain for the 2023 Lions, Sewell continued to reach new heights in just his third season. To me, he's the best offensive tackle in football and he proved it again this year.

Editor's Pick: Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown

St. Brown is who you turn to when you need a play. 93 of his 141 catches (including postseason) went for first downs.

Defensive Player of the Year

Tim Twentyman: Defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson

Hutchinson was a menace in his second season as he earned the first of what's expected to be many Pro Bowl nods. His 121 pressures (including the playoffs) led all edge rushers this season. He also chipped in 11.5 sacks and 33 quarterback hits.

Mike O'Hara: Defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson

He had a good year with 11.5 sacks – and a great year with 33 quarterback hits.

PJ's Pick: Defensive back Brian Branch

Branch's rookie season shouldn't go unrecognized here - he was an impact player from Day 1 in the back end, doing his best to sure up a secondary unit with so many question marks entering the season. Whether it was at nickel, deep safety or in the box, Branch excelled as both a blitzer and in coverage this year.

Editor's Pick: Defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson

Hutchinson was solid all season but really turned it up down the stretch when it mattered most. He recorded five sacks in the final two games of the regular season and had three sacks in the Lions' two playoff wins.

Most Improved

Tim Twentyman: Defensive lineman Alim McNeill

Linebacker Derrick Barnes got some consideration here too, but the way McNeill transformed his body this offseason to be quicker and play more on the other side of the line of scrimmage paid off. He set career highs in sacks (5.0) and QB hits (10) and was on his way to a Pro Bowl season if not for a late-season knee injury that cost him four games.

Mike O'Hara: Wide receiver Jameson Williams

His 2022 rookie season raised questions. He answered them in 2023 with his electrifying speed, blocking and overall ability.

PJ's Pick: Safety Ifeatu Melifonwu

It was quite the finish to 2023 for Melifonwu, coming up with two interceptions and five sacks as he started the Lions' last eight games. He's another player who showed positional versatility on the back end and made splash plays as a blitzer from different looks.

Editor's Pick: Wide receiver Jameson Williams

Williams became one of the Lions' most reliable receivers down the stretch. His speed & playmaking ability are always a threat, and he's shown he can make the tough catches. He should get even more opportunity in 2024.

View the best photos of the 2023 season as chosen by Detroit Lions team photographer Jeff Nguyen.

Rookie of the Year

Tim Twentyman: Tight end Sam LaPorta

The second-round pick out of Iowa set the NFL record for most receptions (86) by a rookie tight end in NFL history. He finished the regular season first among all NFL tight ends in touchdown receptions (10), fourth in receptions and fifth in receiving yards (889). He joined wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as the only rookies in league history with at least 85 receptions, 850 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Mike O'Hara: Tight end Sam LaPorta

There are other worthy candidates from a sparkling 2023 draft class, but LaPorta stood out with 86 receptions, 889 yards and 10 TDs. And he blocked.

PJ's Pick: Tight end Sam LaPorta

Branch was awesome, but it's hard not to pick the guy shattering positional records as a rookie for the overall Rookie of the Year.

Editor's Pick: Tight end Sam LaPorta

There were a lot of options to consider here which is a true testament to the job GM Brad Holmes has done, but LaPorta's production as a rookie tight end was unprecedented. A well deserved sweep.

Best Play

Tim Twentyman: Amon-Ra St. Brown 27-yard TD at Tampa Bay Week 6

It was a nice catch and run by St. Brown, but the block by running back Craig Reynolds at the 18-yard line that took out two Bucs defenders and cleared the path to the end zone for St. Brown epitomized what this team was all about this season – unselfish, explosive and physical.

Mike O'Hara: Brian Branch opening night pick-six Week 1

In the Thursday night kickoff game against the Chiefs, rookie defensive back Brian Branch caught a deflected pass and returned it 50 yards for a TD in the third quarter. It was a sign of what was to come in a 21-20 win over the Chiefs in what became a magical season for the Lions.

PJ's Pick: Aidan Hutchinson's strip sack & safety against Chicago Week 11

A game-sealing defensive score to put the exclamation point on 12-point fourth quarter comeback against a division rival at home? I'd say that'll do it.

Editor's Pick: Derrick Barnes INT vs. Tampa Bay Divisional Round

Barnes' interception vs. the Buccaneers to send the Lions to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 1992 is about as special as it gets. It was a good heads-up play with massive implications.