NFL Draft grades: Detroit Lions' picks were mostly baffling
Overall Detroit Lions grade: F
Yeah, an F. Perhaps this take will get Old Takes Exposed in two or three years as a laughably bad take, but as things stand right now the Lions’ draft class was just baffling. Taking Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs with the 12th overall pick in a year that they signed David Montgomery felt extremely rich. Even taking Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta with the 34th overall pick over Notre Dame's Michael Mayer was a head-scratcher. Gibbs and Campbell made up the most shocking first-round picks in quite some time, and not in a positive way. Hopefully for Lions fans, this take ends up wrong. To put it nicely, they had an unorthodox strategy in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Favorite pick: Brian Branch, DB, Alabama (45th overall)
This was by far the best pick that the Lions made over the weekend. Brian Branch was a projected first-rounder for most of the draft season, but slipped to the second round for whatever reason. He’s not the most athletic defensive back out there, but he’s a smart player that played a variety of roles in Alabama’s defense. He’ll play a lot of snaps as the Lions’ overhang defender this year and he’ll make a whole lot of plays.
Least favorite pick: Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa (18th overall)
The positional value is one thing, but the bigger issue is taking Jack Campbell in the first round. He just wasn’t projected to go anywhere near this spot and likely could have been had a full round later than where he was selected. Campbell is a quality linebacker when he’s coming downhill in the box, but his ability to be an impact player in coverage and in space down the field is a major question mark moving forward. That’s not the profile of a first-round linebacker — those types of players have to be weapons in the passing game to be selected and Campbell isn’t that guy. Really odd selection at the 18th pick, even stranger than the Gibbs pick at 12th overall.
Full Lions draft
Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs (R1, 12th overall)
Iowa LB Jack Campbell (R1, 18th)
Iowa TE Sam LaPorta (R2, 34th)
Alabama DB Brian Branch (R2, 45th)
Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker (R3, 68th)
Western Kentucky DT Brodric Martin (R3, 96th)
William & Mary OG Colby Sorsdal (R5, 152nd)
North Carolina WR Antoine Green (R7, 219th)