Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes had his annual pre-draft press conference in Allen Park Thursday with the NFL Draft exactly one week away. Here are all the key questions to come out of that session:
Does Holmes feel good about the cluster of players potentially available at No. 6?
It was something Holmes first brought up to a small group of reporters at the Annual League Meetings last month when he mentioned he didn't feel as good about the pool of players at No. 6 at that point as he did at No. 7 in 2021 or at No. 2 in 2022.
"We are closer now than we were at that time," Holmes said. "But there is still work to be done. Every draft is different. It's gotten closer. It's just a lot more film and more research has been done. We've had a lot more meetings."
It could certainly open up the window for potentially more movement either up or down from No. 6 based on the final grades and the comfort level Holmes has with the group of players they project to be available at No. 6.
View photos from offseason workouts on Wednesday, April 19, 2023.
Do the Lions feel like they are in a flexible position in the draft with how the roster is constructed and the capital they possess?
"I do feel like we are in a position to do anything we want," Holmes said. "I don't feel like we're pressed."
Holmes is in no way saying the team has a perfect roster, he just believes they can go any direction they want and feel good about still getting the right football player for them.
Why does Holmes view this draft as a little more unpredictable than his first two as Lions GM?
For Holmes, it really comes down to where he's selecting at No. 6 and No. 18 in the first round.
"Having those two picks they are kind of in unique spots," he said. "Just depending on what's going to happen in front of you and what's going to happen behind you. It's just a little different."
Holmes acknowledged the unique opportunity in front of them, finishing 9-8 and nearly making the playoffs and still owning a top 10 pick, two picks in each of the first two rounds and five picks in the Top 81 overall.
"You definitely want to take advantage of having this kind of capital," he said. "It is a unique opportunity and those opportunities don't come every year."
How much does Holmes value the running back position in the first round of the draft?
Holmes was working the Los Angeles Rams' draft as their director of college scouting when they selected Todd Gurley No. 10 overall in 2015.
Holmes said for him it really just comes down to looking at these guys as football players and he feels like if they can help the team and produce then he's all about acquiring those kinds of players no matter where it is in the draft or what position they play.
"I don't think anyone said in 2016 or 2017 or 2018, 'Oh man, Todd Gurley was picked at 10.' No. He was just a really good running back," Holmes said. "He was one of the top prospects in the draft. We didn't really bat an eye."
It's something to keep in mind with the Lions having two picks in the first round and the top running back in the class (Texas' Bijan Robinson) being linked to Detroit in multiple mock drafts over the last couple months.
How was Jalen Carter's visit in Allen Park this week?
Carter is considered one of the top talents in the draft, but he comes with some off-field concerns and culture-fit questions that Holmes and the Lions wanted to get a better grasp on.
"He came in and he did a nice job," Holmes said of the visit. "We enjoyed our time with him. Did a nice job and I'll say even after he left his visit, I felt better about him."
Improving the talent and depth along the interior of the defensive line still remains a high need for the Lions entering the draft.
View photos of NFL prospect Jalen Carter.
How did the success of last year's draft class build confidence in the Lions' process and evaluation?
How could it not? Players like defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson (Defensive Rookie of the Year runner-up), safety Kerby Joseph, linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez and linebacker James Houston played key roles. Wide receiver Jameson Williams has huge upside, along with defensive lineman Josh Paschal and tight end James Mitchell.
"It goes back to that gut [feeling] you have as a football player when you are selecting them," Holmes said. "But it also goes to our coaching staff. Like I say all the time, they can accelerate some development. We are really fortunate there."
Holmes pointed out that during their 8-2 finish last season the defense played so much better and some rookie contributors were a big part of that. He thinks that bodes well for 2023 with there being a lot of excitement in the building for the jump those players will make in Year 2.
"You see the proof in the pudding and always feel good about it," Holmes said. "Hopefully we can make some hay like that again."
Is drafting a quarterback in play?
When picking in the Top 10 in the draft it's always good business to have a good grasp on the quarterback market and to do your due diligence on the position. Holmes said they've done the necessary work on this year's QB class to have a really good feel for those prospects and their grades.
Holmes also said they have a lot of confidence in Nate Sudfeld, who was Jared Goff’s backup last season and was re-signed in the offseason.
Holmes said because of Sudfeld being in the fold they don't feel pressed or pinched to take a quarterback in the draft. There will be a third quarterback on the roster by training camp, whether that's a veteran or a rookie.