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MOCK DRAFT WATCH: Early predictions split for Lions' two first rounders

Dane Brugler, The Athletic:

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 6)

Why: After (Will) Anderson and (Jalen) Carter, there is a clear drop-off to the next tier of non-quarterback prospects in this class. Christian Gonzalez flashed enough at Colorado to earn the No. 9 spot on my summer Top 50 board, and he lived up to that hype in his one season at Oregon. With his speed/length athletic profile and the Lions' need at cornerback, Gonzalez (the brother-in-law of former Lions' backup quarterback David Blough) should be on Detroit's short list for its first of two Round 1 picks.

Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida (No. 15 after trading up with Green Bay)

Why: In last year's first round, the Lions made a major trade with a division foe to move up for a high-upside offensive star (Jameson Williams). They could do it again this year and invest in their future at the quarterback position. Thanks to his size, athleticism and arm, Anthony Richardson is a total freak show with a high ceiling, but he's still figuring out how to be a consistent passer. Jared Goff's presence would let Detroit develop Richardson at his own pace.

Isaiah Foskey, Edge, Notre Dame (No. 55)

Jordan Reid, ESPN:

Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson (No. 6)

Why: The defensive front has promising young playmakers in Aidan Hutchinson, Alim McNeill and James Houston, but adding Bresee would give the Lions a stout run defender up the middle. He would fit into Detroit's scheme right away as a 1- or 3-technique, and I already see a pro-ready arsenal of pass-rush moves to complement his heavy hands against the run.

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (No. 18)

Why: The D’Andre Swift-Jamaal Williams duo has been exciting this season, but it's possible neither running back is in the team's long-term plans. Robinson would be a significant upgrade after rushing for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2022. His contact balance and short-area quickness are superb, but he also has dependable hands and can be deployed as a receiver from many alignments.

Michael Renner, Pro Football Focus:

Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson (No. 6)

Why: The Lions need to keep investing in a defense that is one of the NFL's youngest. They've already found a pair of edge rushers in Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston, and now they form an exciting defensive tackle duo with Bresee sliding into the three-technique role with Alim McNeill at nose. Bresee came back from a torn ACL to earn a career-high 82.0 pass-rushing grade in 2022.

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (No. 18)

Why: The Lions have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and it could be intact for quite a while. At that point, it could make sense to put an elite talent like Robinson behind it and give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares. Robinson set the PFF college single-season record with 104 broken tackles this past season.

Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports:

Myles Murphy, DL, Clemson (No. 6)

Why: Murphy won't be 21 until next spring and while we'd like to see him play with more consistency ... he won't be 21 until next spring. On top of that, when he's on, he's hard to stop, which makes him such an interesting prospect.

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 18)

Why: Gonzalez, a Colorado transfer, is a big-time athlete who is still growing into the position. He has the size, strength and speed to line up against NFL wide receivers; he just needs to improve in run support.

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports:

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: Given the T.J. Hockenson trade, the Lions have a clear need at tight end. Mayer isn't a freaky athlete but checks many boxes in terms of on-field skill.

Kyle Stackpole, CBS Sports:

Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia (No. 6)

Why: The Lions' defense played much better the second half of the season, but it still needs more upgrades if it's going to become a consistent contender in the NFC North. Kelee Ringo's size, length and speed overshadow his lackluster interception total (four the past two seasons), although he did combine for 15 pass breakups in that span.

Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson (No. 18)

Why: The No. 1 high school player in the country a few years ago didn't have his best season in 2022, but the Clemson product still has everything you want in a formidable interior disruptor. Having Bryan Bresee and Aidan Hutchinson along the line will alleviate pressure on the second two levels of the defense.

View the best photos of the 2022 season as chosen by Detroit Lions team photographer Jeff Nguyen.

Josh Edwards, CBS Sports:

Myles Murphy, DL, Clemson (No. 6)

Why: Murphy is the next best prospect on the board unless Detroit is going to take a running back this early. Aidan Hutchinson and Murphy are a physical tandem for many years.

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 18)

Why: Detroit has now devoted both of its first-round picks to the defensive side of the ball. The Lions have sunk a significant amount of resources into the unit over a two-year period.

Charles McDonald, Yahoo:

Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (No. 6)

Why: Jared Goff has performed well enough as the Lions' quarterback, but they need a smidge more to really put them among the NFL's elite. Bryce Young is small for quarterback prospect, but he has all the skills that teams look for in their franchise quarterback.

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

Why: The Lions got their quarterback, and luckily, a strong supporting cast to buoy a young QB. Now they can turn their attention to a defense that was among the worst in the league by adding Porter at cornerback.

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News:

Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia (No. 6)

Why: The Lions got some improved play from 2020 first-rounder Jeff Okudah in coverage but struggled to find other answers on the perimeter. Ringo has the mentality they need as he translates his size well into physical, aggressive play.

Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech (No. 18)

Why: The Lions could use a rangy bookend for 2022 No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson. Wilson is explosive and versatile for his size, capable of playing multiple impact positions along a front seven.

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. Hence, I could see them taking the best player in the 2023 NFL Draft, like Robinson ... Robinson is a running back who has the potential to become a Lions legend who reminds their fanbase of the Barry Sanders days.

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (No. 18)

Why: Cornerback is the biggest need on Detroit's roster. The Lions should add two or three starting-caliber corners via free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft. Witherspoon recorded 40 tackles, three interceptions and 14 passes defended in 2022. The 5-foot-11, 183-pounder impressed preseason evaluators thanks to having serious speed to go along with adequate size.

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA Today

Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson (No. 6)

Why: If the Lions stay the course behind center, Bresee is a sensible option as a force in the middle who can amplify the havoc created by standout rookie Aidan Hutchinson.

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 18)

Why: Detroit has a strong opportunity to keep its defensive youth movement rolling, but top talent at cornerback is sorely lacking. The Lions should have several potential answers in the first round, and the 6-2, 200-pound Gonzalez proved with four interceptions this season that he's more than just an impressive package of size and speed. 

Luke Easterling, Draftwire:

Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson (No. 6)

Why: If the Lions don't want to spend this pick on a future franchise quarterback like Anthony Ricardson, I'm betting they'd prefer to move down a few spots with a team that does. If they can't, Bresee would make the most sense in terms of matching their biggest needs with the best value available on the board.

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 18)

Why: The run on top corners continues, as the Lions grab an upgrade on the outside with Gonzalez, who has everything from ideal size and length to a knack for making big plays when the ball gets near him.

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