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Draft Coverage 2023 mock draft

The big day is finally here. The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. EDT.

For the second year in a row, the Detroit Lions have two picks in the first round: No. 6 and No. 18. Last year GM Brad Holmes stayed put at No. 2 to select defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson and then moved up 20 spots from No. 32 to No. 12 to take wide receiver Jameson Williams.

What will Holmes and the Lions do with this year's first-round picks? I asked the crew, and here's what they had to say:

Tim Twentyman:

No. 6: Edge rusher Tyree Wilson

I've gotten Holmes' last two first picks right with Penei Sewell and Hutchinson, but this draft is a little trickier for the Lions at No. 6. A lot could happen in front of them that affects who is there. I still think there will be a run on QBs at the top of the draft.

Wilson is one of the best defensive players in the class and if he falls to No. 6 with teams taking QBs high, it's a huge win for Detroit. Wilson is an athletic, rangy edge rusher with terrific size (6-6, 271) and a track record of production with a really high ceiling. Holmes has come away from his last two drafts significantly boosting both lines, and I think the right play at No. 6 is continuing to build upfront defensively.

No. 18: Cornerback Joey Porter Jr.

Holmes has the draft capital to move up from 18. I wouldn't be surprised if he does. He went from 32 to 12 last year to take Williams. If he stays at 18 and Porter is still on the board, it would be hard to pass on one of the top three cornerbacks in the draft.

Porter is physical at the point of attack with terrific size (6-2, 193). He really excels in press-man coverage. He also comes from a football upbringing as the son of former All-Pro linebacker Joey Porter. Porter's physical brand of football could be a perfect fit in Aaron Glenn's defense.

View photos of NFL prospect Tyree Wilson.

Mike O'Hara:

No. 6: Edge rusher Tyree Wilson

His size (6-6, 271), long arms and ability to defend the run and rush the passer make him a complement to Hutchinson, a blossoming star drafted second overall by the Lions in 2022. Wilson and Hutchinson will make each other better.

No. 18: Defensive tackle Calijah Kancey

His measurable traits – a 4.67 time in the 40-yard dash at 281 pounds – say he can add a disruptive force to the interior of the defensive line. Hutchinson, Wilson and Kancey could be a dynamic young trio.

Option: If Kancey is off the board, I happily switch to running back Bijan Robinson of Texas. He could have been my first choice.

PJ's Picks:

No. 3 (projected trade): Edge rusher Will Anderson Jr.

After a free agency period that shored up the secondary for 2023 and replenished departing offensive depth, the Lions are in a great spot heading into Thursday night. With so few immediate needs on a roster ready to compete, Holmes can afford to cash in on his extra capital from trading Matthew Stafford, T.J. Hockenson and Jeff Okudah all at once. The Lions would send Nos. 6, 55 and 159 to Arizona in exchange for No. 3 overall, a necessary overpay, but not enough to derail the rest of the draft.

Once on the clock at No. 3, Holmes may get chastised by the league for a third straight year for submitting his pick too quickly, running the card in for Anderson Jr. Trading up in the first for a non-quarterback is always a risk, but Holmes has proven that he'll do it when he gets a chance for a player he deems worthy. Adding Anderson Jr. would be the last big splash in an offseason full of them, for a team that could certainly use one more.

No. 18: Defensive back Brian Branch

With a young trio on the edge of Hutchinson, James Houston and now Anderson Jr., Holmes can go back to attacking the point of emphasis this offseason – the secondary.

Branch may be both the best nickel corner and best safety in this class, adding some positional versatility that the Lions have made it clear they covet, especially in the secondary. Sound like someone already on the roster? Take Branch and have him learn from C.J. Gardner-Johnson, currently the best in the league at that hybrid role, and slide him in easily next season if Gardner-Johnson departs after his one-year deal expires. Holmes gets his star in Anderson Jr., now it's time to get his chess piece.

View photos from offseason workouts on Monday, April 24, 2023.

Editor's Picks:

No. 6: Edge rusher Tyree Wilson

I could see the Lions going a couple different directions with this pick. Assuming they stay put, I'd take the best pass rusher available and in this scenario that's Wilson. I didn't coin the phrase but I agree with it - You can never have too many good pass rushers.

No. 18: Running back Bijan Robinson

Who remembers when we used to do dream picks and reality picks? Because I'm reaching for a dream scenario here. Robinson is my favorite prospect in this year's draft, and if he somehow slides to No. 18 I hope the Lions agree. Robinson, D'Andre Swift and David Montgomery with the Lions' offensive line? Yes please.

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