We've already talked about new Lions to watch like cornerback Cam Sutton, and players with breakout potential like defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson, but who else should we be keeping an eye on in 2023 that might not already be on the radar?
I asked the Detroitlions.com crew, and here's what they had to say:
Tim Twentyman: Defensive lineman Josh Paschal
Paschal didn't make his NFL debut as a rookie last season until late October because of a core muscle injury that required surgery. When he returned late in the year we saw the kind of impact he can have with a two-sack performance in the Week 17 win over Chicago and his ability to set the edge in the run game.
Paschal is healthy entering his second season and much stronger too. He's playing both inside and on the edge, and believes that versatility will allow him to be a mismatch player and productive member of the defensive line group.
Mike O'Hara: Defensive lineman Alim McNeill
McNeill hasn't complied gaudy statistics in his two seasons at defensive tackle, but that doesn't measure what he has meant to the defense.
He has three sacks and nine tackles for loss in two full years. Those aren't eye-popping, but he's starting to make more of an impact. He had three tackles for loss in 2021 and six in 2022.
He has one stat that stands out for me: He has played all 34 games, starting all 17 in 2022.
Bottom line: He's shown that he has ability, and he's matching that with availability.
PJ's Pick: Tight end James Mitchell
Sam LaPorta is (deservedly) getting a lot of hype, but the Lions' tight end room is deeper than you may think.
In September, Mitchell will be two years removed from the ACL tear that ended his college career. Back at full health with the added experience from the 14 games he played as a rookie, the 2022 fifth-round pick pairs with LaPorta to give Detroit a receiving tight end duo that can win at all levels of the field.
Mitchell had 11 receptions on 11 targets last year and showed the ability to create plays with the ball in his hands, as over half of his 113 receiving yards came after the catch. In the limited sample size, he's proven he can slip out to the flat and take the ball upfield when targeted. He's a player that helps a team win games, but can easily fly under the radar on a roster full of weapons like this.
View photos from Day 7 of Detroit Lions OTA practice on Monday, June 12, 2023 in Allen Park, Mich.
Editor's Pick: Wide receiver Josh Reynolds
I think I picked Reynolds last year (Checks notes. Can confirm), but it makes a lot of sense again in 2023. With Jameson Williams set to miss the first six games of the season, there is an opportunity for more targets.
Reynolds has established chemistry with quarterback Jared Goff from their previous time together in Los Angeles and the past two seasons in Detroit. Reynolds had 38 receptions for 479 yards and three touchdowns last season. He averaged 16.1 yards per reception in 2021, so he can stretch the field for the Lions' offense.
Reynolds is one to watch, especially early on this year.