Executive producer and analyst for NFL Matchup and senior producer at NFL Films Greg Cosell has been kind enough to break down the Lions' draft class for detroitlions.com in each of the past 10 seasons, and has agreed to do so for an 11th year.
Cosell's opinions are based on countless hours watching film and evaluating these prospects. He is one of the most honest evaluators in the business, and is well respected among NFL circles.
You can follow him on Twitter at @gregcosell.
Here's what he had to say about the Lions' 2023 draft class:
(Note: Cosell evaluated six of Detroit's eight picks in this year's draft cycle.)
RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama, Round 1 (No. 12 overall)
Cosell: "Gibbs at times conjured up visions of Dalvin Cook with his size and frame (Cook weighs about 10 pounds more) and his sudden explosive downhill running style and his ability to make sharp decisive cuts at speed with outstanding balance and body control.
"Gibbs' 2021 Georgia Tech tape and 2022 Alabama tape showed a back with high-level traits and a complete skill set to be a three down back at the next level. While it is not likely he will be a foundation volume runner at the next level, Gibbs showed the explosive traits that get coaches excited with both sudden lateral agility and quickness in confined space and smooth and fluid almost subtle shiftiness at the second and third levels of the defense to make defenders miss without losing quickness and speed.
"Gibbs is special – changing speeds and going from 0-60 in a heartbeat with the acceleration and speed to beat pursuit angles and then run away from the defense. Gibbs brings both a sustaining and explosive dimension to an NFL offense with his desirable combination of running and receiving traits. Gibbs is the most purely explosive back in this draft class making him an impact game changer that can be deployed in multiple ways when you factor in his pass catching ability."
LB Jack Campbell, Iowa, Round 1 (No. 18 overall)
Cosell: "Campbell was one of the most enjoyable players I watched in preparing for the 2023 NFL Draft. He played stacked LB in Iowa's defense with some snaps as an overhang defender depending on offensive personnel and formation but he was predominantly a box LB.
"Campbell was an outstanding run defender with a desirable combination of size (which is absolutely a trait) and physicality (stack and shed) with high-level key and diagnose read and react traits that featured an ideal mix of patience and vision and decisiveness. Campbell consistently showed an innate feel for when to attack downhill with aggressiveness and physicality and when to play with patience and assignment integrity.
"What stood out snap after snap was Campbell had a great feel for navigating the box and working through bodies without getting caught up in the traffic with the result that he was clean finding the ball. Overall Campbell was as good a box run defender as I saw on tape.
"While Campbell is not an elite athlete with twitch and sudden movement traits, the more I watched his tape the more I saw a deceptively good straight line linear mover with more than functional play speed and range who made many plays outside the box and outside the numbers.
"Overall I believe Campbell is an excellent prospect who will likely begin his career as a base defense LB and then transition to a three-down player once he gains experience. He is a much better athlete than many think he is and his size and length and savvy as a both a run defender and underneath zone coverage defender will get him on the field early."
TE Sam LaPorta, Iowa, Round 2 (No. 34 overall)
Cosell: "LaPorta has the look and feel of a 10-year NFL TE with his compact route running and his ability to work the middle of the field effectively, including the play speed to run the vertical seam and the deep corner and go routes.
"LaPorta is not as big as you'd ideally like at the TE position but he is a smooth fluid athlete with the versatility to line up in multiple locations within the formation and he showed both the route quickness on multiple routes to create separation at the top of his stem and the commitment to run blocking that is demanded. LaPorta was a strong run blocker both attached and detached from the formation and at times in the backfield.
"There were times when LaPorta split outside the numbers and looked like a big wide receiver with his short area quickness and balance and body control to transition immediately from receiver to run-after-catch. One issue that cropped up too often was inconsistent hands with too many drops on balls that he needed to catch and that will need to be cleaned up at the next level.
"But LaPorta is an intriguing prospect who I believe could be a factor as a formation versatile and movement TE/receiver with the ability to work all three levels of the defense although he might not be a true matchup weapon in the NFL."
DB Brian Branch, Alabama, Round 2 (No. 45 overall)
Cosell: "Branch is one of the most complete and multi-dimensional defensive prospects in the 2023 NFL draft with his ability to play multiple positions in the secondary including lining up in the box in different sub defenses and as an overhang defender in the base defense.
"Branch in 2022 predominantly lined up in the slot playing both zone and man-to-man but there were also significant snaps playing on the back end including post safety and matching up man-to-man on tight ends in addition to being deployed as a blitzer.
"What consistently stood out with Branch was he played with his eyes extremely well putting him in good position to react and he was always under control in his reactions and his movement, yet he played fast with twitch and suddenness. Branch is scheme versatile as you project and transition him to the next level and whether teams see him as solely a slot corner in sub defense (which he certainly can play) or a safety in both base and sub defense or a safety in base and slot corner in sub will be a function of the DC and the team's philosophy and personnel.
"My sense is Branch with his skillset and overall traits and football awareness profiles best as a slot corner in conventional sub defense or a slot-box safety in big nickel personnel but regardless of how teams see him he will play as a rookie and be a contributor."
QB Hendon Hooker, Tennessee, Round 3 (No. 68 overall)
Cosell: "Hooker's 2021 and 2022 tape showed a tall athletic strong-armed QB with the arm strength and throwing traits to effectively work the intermediate and deeper levels of the field and excellent mobility to make second reaction plays.
"Hooker ran a relatively pure version of the Air Raid passing game with its emphasis on no huddle fast tempo and widespread formations and pure progression reads where a QB is not taught to understand the subtleties and nuances of specific defenses and coverages and a high percentage of the throws are pre-determined.
"Hooker played with a refined sense of rhythm and timing within the context of the Tennessee passing game and he rarely got stuck in the pocket without a defined sense of where to go with the ball. There will be valid questions as to whether Hooker can transition effectively and quickly to a larger playbook with far more pass game concepts versus more sophisticated defenses with more detailed pressure schemes.
"Hooker's running ability will be a positive as he learns how to play NFL QB and it could well be the reason he is viewed as an intriguing prospect even though you wouldn't say he is twitchy or explosive as a runner but he has size and strength and some wiggle to be a factor in the open field."
WR Antoine Green, North Carolina, Round 7 (No. 219 overall)
Cosell: "Green became one of my favorite receivers to watch the more tape I watched. Green is a long-limbed smooth fluid athlete with easy vertical acceleration who consistently ran by college corners with seemingly little effort.
"He showed excellent hands almost always catching the ball away from his frame and quickly and explosively transitioning from receiver to run-after-catch. While there were not many reps in which we saw routes between the numbers and run-after-catch the few plays that were on tape clearly showed that Green could do both effectively.
"For a long-limbed receiver Green showed the ability to change direction and create needed separation at the top of his route stem (There were not many routes in which he was asked to do that in the North Carolina offense, but it was there on tape.)
"As evaluators and coaches evaluate Green and his projection and transition to the NFL there will certainly be questions about his static alignment and the resulting limited route, but my sense studying his tape is that he is more than capable of location versatility (I could easily see him as a movement Z) and that there is significant room for growth and development when it comes to route versatility and run-after-catch.
"Overall Green is a fascinating prospect who will be likely seen differently by different evaluators and coaches with some seeing him purely as an outside the numbers vertical dimension and others seeing what he could become with coaching and experience."