Breaking Down The Detroit Lions 2023 NFL Draft Day One

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking Down The Detroit Lions 2023 NFL Draft Day One


Breaking Down The Detroit Lions 2023 NFL Draft Day One


Last night, the Detroit Lions made their first selections of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Honolulu Blues owned two round one picks and used both to bolster their roster. Here is a recap and analysis of what Detroit did. 

Pick 12 – Jahmyr Gibbs, Running Back

Once the Seattle Seahawks selected Devon Witherspoon, the Lions traded out of the 6th overall pick with the Arizona Cardinals. Detroit fell back to pick 12 and scooped up another round two pick. With the 12th pick, Detroit selected Alabama’s fierce running back, Jahmyr Gibbs. The 199lb back is a patient, physical runner that has plenty of juice in the tank. Gibbs is adept at running downhill, between tackles, and can break loose on the outside to carry it to the house. SEC coaches also saw Gibbs be explosive in tight areas and play with maturity in pass protection. The Lions covet running backs that can perform in pass protection. Gibbs ticks that box

Moreover, Gibbs is a legitimate pass-catching threat on swing passes, angle routes, and screens. His usage at Alabama often mimicked how the New Orleans Saints use Alvin Kamara. At Alabama, Gibbs recorded 444 receiving yards and 926 rushing yards. 

With D’Andre Swift in a contract year and David Montgomery on a short-term deal, it made sense for Detroit to fill a need on the roster. They have filled the need with a sensational athlete, Gibbs tested in the elite bracket on his 10, 20, and 40-yard splits. Gibbs posted a blazing 4.36 40-yard time at the combine. 

Ranked 22nd on Dane Brugler’s top 300 list, Gibbs is a day-one starter. Lions running back coach Scottie Montgomery said the following about Gibbs; “He’s bringing a value also in the passing game that is a large, large value, and then you add that to what he can do from a dynamic standpoint in the run game.” 

Pick 18 – Jack Campbell, Linebacker

A thumping BIG 10 linebacker from Iowa, Jack Campbell always sounded like a Detroit Lion. The 2022 Butkus Award Winner now moves into the heart of the BIG 10 country as the newest member of Dan Campbell’s Lions. 

A three-down ‘backer, Campbell was the heart and soul of an outstanding Iowa defense. After notching 128 total tackles and earning an FBS-high coverage grade of 93.9, Cambell was rightly named BIG 10 Defensive Player of The Year. 

Campbell then shone at the combine as he posted the best times in the three cone drill and the short shuttle drill. Overall, his RAS score of 9.98 was the best among linebackers. The former Hawkeyes team captain, Campbell, gets downhill quickly, can expand and cover the outside zone running game, and is an explosive blitzer. Campbell is an experienced, mature, tough football player. As the Lions continue to build their culture, Campbell is an almost perfect on-field and off-field fit. 

Linebacker coach Kelvin Sheppard spoke about his first meeting with Campbell and said this; “His knowledge of the game speaks for itself. It shows on the tape. But it’s the passion — and I don’t know if people are ready. … Like, he was crying, in tears. I’m still fired up about it. Just fired up for the opportunity to coach a player of that caliber.”

Campbell himself is excited about the opportunity; “I’m so proud to be able to represent this organization on the highest stage. I’m so excited to enter the building and get ready to work. Everything flew out the window, and I’m a Lion, and that’s the only thing that matters. I’m so damn proud to be a Lion.”



While many draft analysts and commenters scoffed at Detroit drafting ‘low-value’ positions with premium picks, Brad Holmes offered his rebuttal; “They’re football players …if you believe that they can impact you on the football field, you go ahead and take them.” 

Holmes is right. In a draft devoid of elite blue-chip talents, you want players that can play meaningful snaps from day one. Once Will Anderson and Devon Witherspoon were unavailable, the Lions took high-end prospects in lesser positions than low-end prospects in high-value positions. 

Furthermore, they drafted characters and personalities that fit the environment. Both players are outstanding athletes with plenty of college experience and will be ready to fight for a starting job. Detroit did the same last year with Aidan Hutchinson and in 2021 with Penei Sewell. 

Ultimately, the Lions did this equation; Jack Campbell is the best linebacker in the class, and that is better than taking a tier-two defensive end. They did the same with Jahmyr Gibbs. 

What Next? 

The Lions now have three picks to make tonight. It promises to be another fascinating draft night. 


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