Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Detroit Lions Draft: Top 5 Options With the 18th Overall Pick

Breaking down players the Detroit Lions could potentially target with their second of two first-round picks in the 2023 NFL draft.

Breaking down the Detroit Lions top five options with the 18th overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft.

With two first-round picks in this year’s draft, the Detroit Lions are in a very good spot to boost an already good roster.  The Lions almost made the playoffs even with a very weak defense.  This offseason they’ve already made additions in the secondary by bringing in Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley, and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.

What the Detroit Lions decide to do with the 18th overall pick could be influenced by their first selection at sixth overall which is broken down here.  Regardless of what they decide to do, these are five players that would be excellent fits for the Detroit Lions and provide good value in the middle of the first round.

5 Players the Detroit Lions Could Draft With The 18th Overall Pick

Option One: Brian Branch CB/S Alabama

After signing three starting DB’s in free agency, the Lions no longer have an urgent need to address the secondary in this draft.  However, Moseley and Gardner-Johnson are on just one-year deals, so the long-term need is still there.  Depending on how the board falls, they can still find some good value at corner here.

Brian Branch is one of the safest projections to at least be a good player in the NFL of any player in this draft.  He is a jack of all trades who any coach would love to have in their defense.  He has great coverage skills playing primarily out of the slot.  The biggest selling point to his game translating to the NFL is his instincts.  In the passing game he constantly puts himself in good positions to make plays on the ball.  

In the run game, he’s arguably the best of any DB in the draft.  He’s constantly making plays around the line of scrimmage in the run game with his instincts and closing speed.  He’s also the best tackler in the entire draft as he missed just three tackles over his career at Alabama, which is incredible, especially for a DB who plays near the line of scrimmage like him.

Option Two: Deonte Banks CB Maryland

The next intriguing option for the Lions in this spot is another corner. Deonte Banks is amongst the best of a very talented position group in this class.  Banks wouldn’t be forced into playing too big of a role for the Lions’ defense as a rookie and could eventually step into a big role.

Athleticism is more important in corners than just about any position on the football field and Banks certainly checks that box.  His RAS score is third of any corner since 1987 as at 6-foot-0, 197 pounds he ran a blazing 4.35-yard dash, plus had a 42-inch vertical (97th percentile for corners) and 136-inch broad jump (98th percentile).

Banks has a very good track in zone coverage at Maryland.  He does a good job of understanding his coverage assignment and doing his job consistently.  He also plays team defense well communicating with his teammates well and passing off receivers in and out of his zone.

In man coverage, he doesn’t have quite as good of a track record at Maryland.  His PFF coverage grades in man coverage left a lot to be desired as he graded at 63.6 in 2022 and 50.6 in 2020.  The good news is with his athleticism, he has a lot of potential to develop into a strong man cover corner.

Option Three: Michael Mayer TE Notre Dame

After trading T.J. Hockenson at last year’s trade deadline, a tight end is on the table for the Lions in this spot.  Michael Mayer wouldn’t just fill a positional need, but he presents good value in the middle of the first round.

Mayer is the most complete tight end in this draft class.  As a receiver, he’s not elite athletically, but he finds ways to win as a pass catcher.  For starters, he’s very good in contested catch situations as he utilizes his size very well and really doesn’t need much separation to win.  At Notre Dame, he had 33 contested catches on 55 targets, which is a very good rate.

Mayer is also very effective as a route runner.  He changes directions well for someone at his size and does a good job of selling one route than going a different direction to create separation.  He also finds holes and settles in to create throwing lanes for his quarterback, which is an important ability for a tight end.

Another big selling point for Mayer is what he brings to the table as a run blocker. He can move defenders at the line of scrimmage, as well as block in space against linebackers and defensive backs.

Option Four: Calijah Kancey DT Pittsburgh

The Lions have a good group of edge rushers, so if they can choose between two similarly ranked edge rushers and interior defensive linemen they’ll prefer the latter.  Calijah Kancey may not be coveted by every NFL team due to his lack of size, but his pass-rushing abilities may be too valuable to pass up.

From a technical perspective, Kancey is right up there with Jalen Carter among interior pass rushers in this class.  He wins pass rushes at a very high rate because he can win in multiple ways.  He wins with rip moves because of his lower body flexibility, with hand swipes combined with his quickness to get into the backfield, a shrug move where he extends his arms and gets his hands on lineman’s armpits to move them out of his path.

Option Five: Nolan Smith Edge Georgia

Even with an edge rusher group that includes last year’s second overall pick Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston IV who emerged strongly last season, they can still add more depth to the group.  Nolan Smith is a good player with a lot of room to grow to provide a lot of value in this spot.

Nolan Smith was the top-ranked recruit in college football in the 2019 class.  The combine showed why that was the case as he ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at 238 pounds.  That quickness and explosiveness show up on tape as well and gives him a sky-high ceiling as a pass rusher. 

At just above 6-foot-2, 238 pounds he’s on the smaller end for edge rushers, however, he plays bigger than he is.  At Georgia, he was a terrific run defender as he utilized his quickness to wreak havoc in the backfield, but also took on blocks and dominated leverage battles.

Main Photo: Andrew Wevers – USA TODAY Sports


More Posts

Send Us A Message