PHOENIX – Before the start of free agency the popular mock draft selections for the Detroit Lions at No. 6 and No. 18 involved taking a cornerback.
But after the signings of veterans Cam Sutton, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley in free agency, the cornerback position isn't perceived to be as big of a need in Detroit, though it should be noted Gardner-Johnson and Moseley signed one-year deals.
Improving the defense as a whole was a big goal for the Lions heading into the offseason. Those three veteran cornerback signings, coupled with the return of defensive lineman John Cominsky, defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs and linebacker Alex Anzalone, has given Lions general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell some freedom with how they approach next month's NFL Draft.
"Free agency has given us the ability in areas to, man, we can do whatever we need to do in the draft," Campbell said this week at the Annual League Meetings. "We feel pretty good about that. We don't feel forced to do anything -- 'you got to take this. You got to ...'
"And so with that, I would say, man, it doesn't matter what the position is if we can upgrade our team top to bottom? We will do that."
The Lions have two picks in the first round, two picks in the second round and five total picks in the top 81 selections. Holmes said nothing is off the board for the Lions, and it's never been Holmes' philosophy to draft for need while passing on more talented players.
"We always say we're going to take the best football player for us, we don't have a depth chart in our draft room," Holmes said. "I just think you can make a lot of mistakes with that. I've been in regimes in the past that have a depth chart in the draft room, and I've just never been a fan of that.
"I think everything we've done out of free agency, I think we're in a better position to just take the best player available and add the right football players."
Holmes also said when talking about the No. 6 pick specifically, there's still more work to be done identifying the cluster of players he'd feel good about taking there. In his first draft as Lions GM in 2021, they had the No. 7 pick which eventually turned into Penei Sewell, but Holmes was comfortable with a number of players there depending on how the draft played out.
Same thing last year when they had the No. 2 pick they used on Aidan Hutchinson. Holmes said last year around this time he felt really good about taking a few players there at No. 2 depending on how things fell.
"I can't say that's the case right now, just being honest," he said. "There's still more work to do. We've already done a lot of work, but like I talked about the process, we just kind of surrender the results to that, and we're still going through the process. Still more work to do. We'll make sure we'll get to the point where we'll make the best decision to add the best football player for us."
It sounds like nothing is off the table for the Lions from a position standpoint, but also potentially moving up or back depending on how that evaluation process plays out. It should be fun to watch how this ultimately plays out come April 27.