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KEY QUESTIONS: Why re-signing players is so important to Holmes

Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes got his time at the podium Tuesday afternoon and spoke on a number of topics ranging from the draft to free agency.

Here are all the key questions from Holmes' media session:

How excited is Holmes at the challenge of selecting late in the draft?

For the first time since Holmes took the job in 2021 he doesn't have a top 10 pick going into the draft. Drafting at 29 or later means the team had a ton of success, and Holmes will take that every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

He enters the draft picking at 29 which gives him a lot of flexibility to move up or down. If he decides to stay and pick a player there, Holmes said it's a deep enough draft where they can get an impact player.

"The spot that we are in it is exciting to have that flexibility because a lot of things can happen when you're sitting back there. I'm excited about being in that position," Holmes said. "You're kind of out of the Top 10 beauty pageant and you're kind of like, 'Look, let's find the best football player."

Why is re-signing players more important to Holmes than spending in free agency?


The thing about drafting and developing a player over the course of many years is it allows a general manager like Holmes to not only have a great idea of the skillset of the player but also what the player brings to the locker room and the culture.

It's part of the reason why Holmes has been very selective and strategic in free agency and hasn't just hunted the top talent.

"You don't really know these players," Holmes said of the free-agent market. "You see what you see on film but like I've told all of you that's the easy coherent part. Can a guy come off the football? Ok. That's easy. But you don't really know them, know them and that's why you have to be real careful."

When a team drafts and knows their own players, they feel a lot more comfortable giving them a big deal in their second contract.

Did the salary cap jump surprise Holmes?

The 2024 salary cap is set at $255.4 million dollars which is an unprecedented $30 million increase from last season.

"It was a little surprising," Holmes admitted. "I didn't know it was going to go to where it went."

Holmes said they've made the necessary adjustments in their planning and budgeting and said it gives them really good flexibility. Detroit's expected to have upwards of $55 million in cap space available to them.

How high is the ceiling for running back Jahmyr Gibbs?

Gibbs totaled 1,261 scrimmage yards and 11 scrimmage touchdowns and was second in the NFL with 10 rushes of 20-plus yards as a rookie No. 12 overall pick.

Holmes said his pre-draft evaluation of Gibbs was pretty much exactly what we saw over the course of his rookie season – an explosive player who had a major impact on the offense.

"I do think he's got a lot of meat on the bone as well," Holmes said.

It just took a little bit of an adjustment from Gibbs early on to slow down a bit and trust his speed, and when he did he turned into a multifaceted weapon and game-breaker, per Holmes.

Is Holmes worried at all about the small underclassmen group in this draft?

He was initially. Only 58 underclassmen were early entrants in this year's class, the lowest number in over a decade. Holmes was preparing himself for this with NIL becoming more lucrative and other reasons players are staying in college longer.

"I wouldn't be surprised if those numbers drop even more next year," Holmes said. "Traditionally the underclassmen have been the meat of the first two rounds of the draft, so we'll just kind of see how that changes in the very end."

A lack of underclassmen could make finding impact players on Day 3 a little more challenging than usual.

Why hasn't Holmes drafted an outside cornerback higher in the draft over the last three seasons?

The only outside cornerback Holmes has drafted the last three years was Ifeatu Melifonwu out of Syracuse, but that was late in the third round. He's since been moved to safety.

Holmes said that hasn't been intentional. He said watching someone play cornerback at a high level is like poetry in motion.

"I don't want to call myself a snob of outside corners, but I have a lot of appreciation for that position," Holmes said. "I was a cornerback crosscheck for like over a decade with the Rams and I love corner play. I can watch DB individuals all day every day. We just want to get the right fit."

That's a big area of need for the Lions heading into free agency next month and the NFL Draft in late April.

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