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The Detroit Lions made a huge leap in 2022, finishing with a 9-8 record, good for second in the NFC North.
Detroit has eight selections in the upcoming NFL Draft, including five in the first three rounds.
In our latest three-round mock draft, the Lions use those picks as an opportunity to improve their defense.
With so many selections in the early and mid rounds, Detroit may look towards trades on draft day. However, we will not factor those into this mock.
Cornerback is arguably the biggest need for the Lions heading into the NFL Draft. They address that by taking Devon Witherspoon sixth overall.
Witherspoon played four seasons at Illinois. During that time, he made 157 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, one sack, five interceptions, and a forced fumble.
According to Pro Football Focus, Witherspoon allowed a completion percentage of 34.9% in 2022.
He would join a Lions’ cornerback room that includes Jeff Okudah, Jerry Jacobs, and Chase Lucas.
With a strong training camp and preseason performance, Witherspoon could make his way into the starting lineup.
Defensive tackle is another position of need for Detroit, so they select Calijah Kancey with the 18th overall pick.
Kancey played in 11 games at Pitt in 2022. He finished the season with 31 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks. His play earned him the 2022 ACC Defensive Player of the Year Award.
At the NFL Draft Combine, Kancey ran a 4.67 40-yard draft and 1.64 10-year split. Next Gen Stats ranked him the second-best defensive tackle.
NFL.com compares Kancey to Pro Football Hall of Famer, John Randle.
Kancey could be a week one starter for the Lions. A combination of Kancey and Aidan Hutchinson would make life miserable for the opposing team’s quarterback.
The Lions turn their attention to the offense with the first of their two second-round picks.
Wide receiver Josh Downs caught 202 passes during his three seasons with the Tar Heels. He finished his college career with 2,483 yards and 22 touchdowns.
His combine stats include a 4.48 40-yard dash, along with a 38.5″ vertical and a 10′ 11″ broad jump. Next Gen Stats gave Downs a total score of 86. He was ranked second-best among receivers.
While wide receiver is not one of the top needs for Detroit, this selection was a case of taking the best player available.
With Alex Anzalone heading to free agency, Detroit adds a rookie linebacker 55th overall.
Henley spent five seasons at Nevada and played the 2022 season at Washington State.
The 23-year-old played 12 games, finishing with 106 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four sacks, one interception, and three forced fumbles.
Henley ran a 4.54 at the NFL Draft Combine. Next Gen Stats ranked him fourth among linebackers.
Daiyan Henley brings an aggressiveness that head coach Dan Campbell will love.
Detroit adds another cornerback in the third round.
Williams played seven games for Syracuse last season. He recorded 36 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions, and a forced fumble.
NFL.com compares Williams to 49ers corner Emmanuel Moseley.
Williams will get the chance to compete for a job in training camp and preseason games.
The 2023 NFL Draft begins on April 29th.