Detroit Lions 2023 Season: A Visual Recap and Draft Preparations

A visual look back at the Detroit Lions’ 2023 season

Relive the Detroit Lions’ historic 2023 season in video and photos, from the Week 1 win in Kansas City to the NFC championship game.

If the Detroit Lions pass on cornerback help in this year’s NFL draft, it won’t be for a lack of diligence.

The Lions have loaded up on pre-draft visits with most of the top cornerbacks in this year’s class and are scheduled to host two more potential Day 2 picks at the position Thursday: Caelen Carson of Wake Forest and Nehemiah Pritchett of Auburn.

Already, the Lions hosted Alabama cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry and draft-eligible CFL cornerback Qwan’tez Stiggers on visits. Alabama’s Terrion Arnold posted video on his Instagram page of a trip to the Lions’ Allen Park practice facility this week, Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell is eligible for a local visit and Missouri’s Ennis Rakestraw Jr. and Kentucky’s Dru Phillips also reportedly have visited the Lions.

Mitchell and Arnold are projected top-20 picks and expected to be the first two cornerbacks off the board, Rakestraw and McKinstry are likely top-50 choices and could interest the Lions with the 29th pick of the first round, and Phillips and Stiggers are projected to go in the middle rounds.

MAKING A VISIT: See who was in attendance at Lions local day

Michigan football slot cornerback Mike Sainristil, another potential Day 2 choice, also made a local visit to Detroit.

The Lions have not drafted a true outside cornerback since they took Jeff Okudah third overall in 2020, though head coach Dan Campbell indicated they planned to fill their cornerback need this year through the draft.

The Lions traded for Carlton Davis and signed Amik Robertson in free agency, but released Cam Sutton, a 17-game starter last season, this spring.

“Certainly there’s still some guys we’re still looking at in free agency that can bring in some competition,” Campbell said at the NFL’s annual meeting last month. “And that may or may not be done before the draft. I know that it brings up a little more urgency for another player, for sure, that can compete. But then as far as everything else goes, we’re ready to go into the draft and see if we can come away with something in there.”

‘GOOD ONES ARE HARD TO FIND’: Why Brad Holmes is choosy about drafting CBs

The Lions should have options at 29 if they want to take a cornerback in Round 1, and would be in good position to move up if a player like Arnold or Mitchell falls in the draft.

Iowa’s Cooper DeJean and Clemson’s Nate Wiggins are other potential first-round picks at cornerback.

Holmes has taken four defensive backs in his first three drafts as Lions GM, and three of those came on Day 2: Slot cornerback Brian Branch at No. 45 last year, safety Kerby Joseph at No. 97 in 2022 and hybrid corner/safety Ifeatu Melifonwu at No. 101 in 2021.

The Lions also used their final pick of the 2022 draft (No. 237 overall) on slot cornerback Chase Lucas.

Both Carson and Pritchett could go in the top-100 pick range. Pritchett, a three-year starter at Auburn, ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine and has experience playing both outside and in the slot. Carson, a two-year starter at Wake Forest who did not work out at the combine because of injury, had 29 career pass breakups and is considered one of the more physical cornerbacks in the draft.

“When it comes to cornerbacks, you can never have enough of those guys, which I can say that with a lot of different positions,” Holmes said last month. “I don’t think we’ve ever went through a draft where we didn’t draft one, at least. Whether it’s a corner or a nickel, but I’ve always thought it’s good business to at least acquire one. But, again, you can never have enough of them.”

Contact Dave Birkett at [email protected]. Follow him on X and Instagram at @davebirkett.

2024-04-11 10:16:47
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