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Road to the Draft

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KEY QUESTIONS: What goes into the decision to trade up in the draft?

The NFL Draft in Detroit is a week away, and Lions general manager Brad Holmes conducted his annual pre-draft press conference Thursday in Allen Park.

"I'm so excited about the draft being in Detroit, I really am," Holmes said. "Another opportunity for our franchise and our city and just for the world to kind of migrate to downtown Detroit. I expect it to be pretty packed. I'm excited for all the businesses. I think it's going to be really exciting."

Holmes is also excited about the opportunity the draft presents to improve his football team with young talent. He's had a lot of success in his previous three draft cycles finding difference-making talent and early contributors. Let's hope there's more of the same this time around.

Here's a look at all the key questions to come out of Holmes' press conference:

What are the challenges of having pick No. 29?

This is the first draft Holmes has run in Detroit where he doesn't have a Top 10 pick at his disposal. The last two years he's had a Top 10 pick and a second pick in the first round.

"You just have to wrap your head around that you're looking at a different level of player," he said. "It is what it is. I don't want to say it's any less pressure because you have to get every single pick right as well, at least that's the standard that we hold ourselves to, whether it's at 29 or seven or six or two."

Holmes said the preparation and approach to this draft hasn't changed having a late-round pick, just the caliber of prospect and pool of players that could be available to them is obviously different at 29 that it would be in the Top 10.

Holmes was the director of college scouting for the Rams when they didn't even have a first-round pick. He has plenty of experience in this scenario.

Why is the player more important than the position when it comes to the draft?

Holmes is all about the 'who.' Meaning he's evaluating the football player and he thinks teams get into trouble when they draft for need and pass on a better caliber football player because he doesn't play a 'premium position.'

"You don't just pick whatever the premium position is," he said. "You don't just pick that player because he plays that position. No, he has to be the right football player and that's what we stuck to and it's worked so far."

In just three draft cycles Holmes has already selected five Pro Bowl players. Even with his roster being the most complete it's been in his tenure heading into the draft he said that philosophy won't change.

"Really, with where the roster is now, I actually think you have even more flexibility to not be anchored to a need," he said.

Free agency is the time to fill some needs, Holmes said. The draft is all about adding young, talented football players that fit the schemes and culture.

What goes into the decision to trade assets to move up for a player?

Holmes has traded up four different times throughout the course of his first three drafts, so he's certainly not afraid to do so.

"It has to be the right guy," he said. "There is a lot of boxes that need to be checked. Everybody can't play here. That player has to be identified that he's checked all those boxes and he's the right pick and right fit."

What does Holmes think of this year's cornerback class?

The Lions have done a lot of homework in the pre-draft process on this year's class of cornerbacks. Holmes has selected a cornerback in each of his first three drafts in Detroit.

The Lions reshaped that room this offseason by trading for Carlton Davis and signing Amik Robertson in free agency.

"It's a solid group," Holmes said of this year's cornerback class.

He said in terms of numbers of players who are in those top rounds and the overall depth of the class, it's comparable to past seasons.

View photos from offseason workouts on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

How important is maintaining a good offensive line?

Holmes is a firm believer the game is won in the trenches and maintaining talent and adding depth to the offensive line is always going to be a priority.

"It's hard to overlook," he said. "I don't care who you got at quarterback. I don't care if you've got more of a pocket guy or a scrambler. I don't care what it is. Offensive line is critical and if you don't have one it can make life hard in a lot of areas."

He feels really good about the offensive line after adding Pro Bowler Kevin Zeitler and re-signing Graham Glasgow in free agency, and said if they do add to that group in the draft it's going to be hard for them to crack the starting lineup.

Will the draft being in Detroit affect a potential decision to move back out of the first round from pick No. 29?

The quick answer is no.

Holmes is going to do what's best for the organization and if it makes sense to move back and gain assets, he will.

"Say that happens where the fans have been waiting there all night for this pick and we get an offer we really can't turn down and makes sense we have to do the right thing," Holmes said. "Hopefully, our fans will forgive us."

Holmes doesn't expect immediate forgiveness right then and there, but hopefully when the season starts and the player(s) they moved back and selected are having an impact everything will be forgiven.

How might the change in kickoff rules affect some of the pre-draft evaluations?

Holmes said he's still in the exploratory phase in terms of a personnel standpoint of how the rule changes might affect that play. He said they might be looking for a different kind of returner than they have in the past and maybe different kinds of body types on kickoff and coverage teams.

"We've had a lot of discussions on that," he said. "Obviously, you guys know special teams is a high priority here. I have all the faith in Dan and (special teams coordinator Dave) Fipp that we'll have the right guys."

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