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MOCK DRAFT WATCH: Defensive picks dominating the predictions

The Kansas City Chiefs put a bow on the 2022 NFL season by winning their second Super Bowl in the last four years, beating Philadelphia 38-35 on Sunday.

The NFL now moves into offseason mode with the next big event on the schedule the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis at the end of the month. The official start of the 2023 new league year is March 15.

Mock draft season has been in full swing for months now, but with the Combine fast approaching, interest is quickly turning toward the start of free agency in March and the NFL Draft in April. Here are some of the latest mock drafts predicting what the Lions will do:

Mike O'Hara,

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 6)

Why: A one-year player at Oregon after a transfer from Colorado, Gonzalez is 6-2 with range and speed. He used that to intercept four passes in 12 games. He added 11 passes defended.

Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson (No. 18)

Why: 6-5 and 306 pounds, he played 26 games with 21 starts. Nine career sacks and 15 tackles for loss.

Daniel Jeremiah,

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (No. 6)

Why: I fell in love with Witherspoon's skill set after the first game I studied. He is dripping with instincts and possesses outstanding ball skills. His feisty play style would fit the culture Dan Campbell and Co. are building in Detroit.

Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson (No. 18)

Why: The Lions add another athletic playmaker in Simpson, who could slide right next to Malcolm Rodriguez to form an excellent young LB corps.

Lance Zierlein,

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 6)

Why: The Detroit Lions showed they mean business last year, but there is only so much business you can mean if you don't have a better secondary.

Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (No. 18)

Why: The Lions could double up at cornerback in Round 1, but passing on a rock-solid tight end who can block and catch might be tough after dealing T.J. Hockenson before last year's trade deadline.

Bucky Brooks,

Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson (No. 6)

Why: Adding another trench warrior to the Lions' defensive line will help head coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn build a bully in Motown.

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 18)

Why: Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn needs more cover corners to maximize the blitz-heavy scheme that helped the Lions emerge as a playoff contender in 2022.

Eric Edholm,

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (No. 6)

Why: Trading down certainly has some appeal, but Stroud possesses some Jared Goff-like traits from the pocket and could sit a year if needed.

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (No. 18)

Why: The Lions just struck gold with Illinois safety Kerby Joseph, so why not head back to Champaign to land one of the scrappiest, most instinctive corners in the draft. Witherspoon fits the Lions' mold -- and is a former roommate of Joseph's, to boot.

Chad Reuter,

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 6)

Why: Usually there's a cornerback who takes a big leap (figuratively and literally) at the NFL Scouting Combine -- my guess is that's Gonzalez this year. The Oregon defender's size (6-2, 201) and athleticism will likely impress scouts, who, if they haven't devoured it already, will then turn to the tape where they'll see aggressive play and very good ball skills.

Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (No. 18)

Why: Mayer might end up as the second tight end off the board because he is not as quick-twitch as Dalton Kincaid and others at his position. The Lions happily select the Notre Dame standout, though, as his reliability as a pass-catcher and tenacious blocking remind me of Ravens star Mark Andrews.

Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon (No. 48)

Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA (No. 55)

Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford (No. 81)

Cynthia Frelund,

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (No. 6)

Why: Witherspoon has the highest ceiling and floor projection at corner in my model. His change-of-direction speed ranks in the top 10 percent of my 10-season sample. This metric helps predict how quickly prospects will have success in different coverages as they adapt to the pro game.

Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia (No. 18)

Why: Complementing Aidan Hutchinson (after addressing corner at No. 6) with Smith, whose burst ranks in the top 15 percent at his position (when healthy), changes the math for the Lions the most entering 2023.

Mel Kiper, ESPN

Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech (No. 6)

Why: Wilson can use his burst at the snap to beat offensive tackles on passing downs or use his 6-foot-6 frame to hold up against the run. An edge-rushing duo of Wilson and Aidan Hutchinson would be formidable, with surprise rookie James Houston working in on obvious passing downs.

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 18)

Why: Gonzalez was a lockdown defender at Colorado before transferring to Oregon last year, where he picked off four passes and improved every week. He's going to test really well at the combine in March, too.

Matt Miller, ESPN

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (No. 6)

Why: The top-ranked cornerback in the class goes to the Lions, and Witherspoon is exactly what the team needs as a physical, sticky cover man with instincts and ball skills. He is 6-1 and only 180 pounds, but he plays much bigger and is the best open-field tackler among this group of corners.

Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa (No. 18)

Why: Van Ness is a raw pass-rusher after playing sparingly at Iowa, but he performed well enough to notch 6.5 sacks in 2022 and seven in 2021. The 6-5, 270-pound defensive end has shades of Trey Hendrickson his game, which is why he's seen as a potential first-rounder despite not starting for the Hawkeyes.

Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa (No. 48)

Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama (No. 55)

Ryan Wilson, CBS

Myles Murphy, DL, Clemson (No. 6)

Why: Myles Murphy turned 21 in early January, and while we'd like to see him play with more consistency ... he just turned 21 in early January. He has all the physical tools you look for in an elite edge defenders and it's easy to see him in a few years being dominant. And that, in large part, is what makes him such an interesting prospect.

Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland (No. 18)

Why: Maryland teammate and fellow CB Jakorian Bennett got much of the buzz in the fall, but Deonte Banks put together the type of season that will land you in the top-50 conversation. He's a fluid athlete who is also a big, physical corner who can run with NFL wide receivers.

Enjoy these Detroit Lions themed Valentine's Day cards.

Josh Edwards, CBS

Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech (No. 6)

Why: Tyree Wilson is an incredibly long pass rusher with the twitch to be special down the line.

Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (No. 18)

Why: If you look around the league, most of the good teams are building depth in the secondary.

Chris Trapasso, CBS

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (No. 6)

Why: Witherspoon looks like a supreme athlete, and his 2022 film was squeaky clean. He could ascend to the first cornerback off the board in this class.

Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (No. 18)

Why: The Lions get an instant T.J. Hockenson replacement in Mayer, who joins a fun offense in Detroit.

Tom Fornelli, CBS

Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson (No. 6)

Why: I love Bryan Bresee. There are injury concerns because of time missed while at Clemson, but while he may not have the ceiling of Jalen Carter, Bresee has an excellent chance of being a disruptive force on the interior. He's strong, big, moves quickly and seems to have a better understanding of the position already.

BJ Ojulari, Edge, LSU (No. 18)

Why: I see a lot of upside in Ojulari as a pass-rusher, and that's likely how he'll earn snaps early in his career. Playing alongside Aidan Hutchinson would speed up the process.

Kyle Stackpole, CBS

Myles Murphy, DL, Clemson (No. 6)

Why: His physical traits and versatility will pair will with 2022 No. 2 pick Aidan Hutchinson.

Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina (No. 18)

Why: Cam Smith could develop into a shutdown corner that Detroit lacks, as his length and instincts will translate well to the next level.

Charles McDonald, Yahoo

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 6)

Why: Gonzalez is a hot name right now and he fits with what the Lions need: Just anyone who has the potential to be a net-positive pass defender.

Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson (No. 18)

Why: Bresee has been a stalwart for Clemson and would pair well with Aidan Hutchinson for the long term in Detroit.

Diante Lee, The Athletic

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 13 after trade w/ Jets)

Why: Fluid in his feet and hips, with enough speed to recover and the ball skills to compete at the catch point, Gonzalez would form a strong pair with Jeff Okudah. The Oregon product also could play in the slot when needed.

Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson (No. 18)

Why: He battled injuries in his college career, but his power is clear on tape. He can play nose or defensive tackle, and there's still potential to unlock as a pass rusher.

Nick Baumgardner, The Athletic

Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech (No. 6)

Why: The Lions could take a cornerback here, but I'm not sure Christian Gonzalez is defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn's cup of tea.

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (No. 15 after trade w/ GB)

Why: This feels more like Aaron Glenn's speed. Devon Witherspoon's physical and unrelenting style would be a perfect fit in Detroit, so much so that the Lions might even entertain taking him at No. 6.

Jason McIntyre, FOX Sports

Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (No. 6)

Why: Yes, Jared Goff was terrific last year in Detroit. He also carries the 18th-largest cap hit next year, and then 14th biggest in 2024. Look at how the Eagles and 49ers have built their rosters around QBs on their rookie deals. Detroit gets in position to do that by taking Young.

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 18)

Why: The 6-foot-2 corner has started every game in college since his freshman year - first at Colorado, then at Oregon. He'd instantly start opposite Jeff Okudah.

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News

Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (No. 6)

Why: Mayer can be the next great one with his dominant physical frame and receiving moxie.

Isaiah Foskey, Edge, Notre Dame (No. 18)

Why: Foskey can deliver with a powerful, explosive and technically sound game. He also has the potential to develop into an elite run defender.

Michael Renner, Pro Football Focus

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (No. 6)

Why: Head coach Dan Campbell is going to take one look at Witherspoon's tape and demand he be a Detroit Lion. Witherspoon is the feistiest cornerback in the draft, and he got after it in press coverage last season. He allowed only one yard from a press alignment all year.

Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida (No. 18)

Why: Richardson is so special athletically that offensive coordinator Ben Johnson can get him involved in certain packages without him being the starter.

Luke Easterling, Draftwire

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (No. 6)

Why: His film shows a polished cover man who can excel in either man or zone, with the instincts and ball skills to be a big-play magnet.

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (No. 18)

Why: Sometimes, you just have to throw needs out the window and draft the best available player on the board. The Lions have way bigger needs elsewhere, but the value just isn't there at any of them.

Charlie Campbell, Walter Football

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (No. 6)

Why: Under general manager Brad Holmes, the Lions have taken elite talents and not reached for need ... Robinson is a running back who has the potential to become a Lions legend who reminds their fanbase of the Barry Sanders days.

Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (No. 18)

Why: Porter is a nice value here to be a starting outside corner for the Lions.

Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia (No. 48)

Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa (No. 55)

Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa (No. 81)

Walter Cherpinsky, Walter Football

Tyreee Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech (No. 6)

Why: The Lions must improve their defense, and that would entail obtaining some talent for the defensive line to complement Aidan Hutchinson on the edge.

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 18)

Why: The Lions must address their secondary if they ever want to stop the pass. Christian Gonzalez is a tall cornerback who is fast and athletic.

Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State (No. 48)

Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State (No. 55)

Malik Cunningham, QB, Louisville (No. 81)

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