2023 NFL mock draft: Detroit Lions land QB, DB in Todd McShay’s first mock
The Detroit Lions are in the midst of the playoff race, but there are plenty of teams that have turned the page to the 2023 offseason, and that means the mock draft season is heating up. Last week The Athletic’s Dane Brugler released his first mock draft of the season and we restarted our Lions mock draft round-up series over the weekend.
On Tuesday, ESPN got in the action and Todd McShay dropped his first mock draft of the 2023 season ($subscription required). Like most mock drafts currently in production, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter and Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson were all off the board in the first three picks, leaving the Lions with some interesting pick decisions No. 4 overall.
Let’s take a look at who McShay missed out on the Lions with their two first-round picks.
Round 1, choose 4 (about rams): CJ Stroud, QB, State of Ohio
Stroud is a very popular choice for the Lions at the moment. In our last mock draft roundup, 10 of the 12 mock drafts we looked at went with the Ohio State signal caller.
Let’s hear from McShay and his arguments for projection:
“Everything here came together perfectly for the Lions, allowing them to design their future signal caller without stepping up. Stroud has thrown 37 touchdown passes this season — and has up to two games left — and is third in the nation in QBR (87.7). Jared Goff has been playing well under center lately, but he’s not the long-term answer. Stroud – who makes good decisions with football, shows great touch and has a big arm – could learn behind Goff for a season before Detroit move on and build around a talented passer in a rookie deal. Detroit currently has a top five offense (26.2 points per game) and a very good supporting cast is already in place.”
While there’s an obvious argument for the Lions to bring in Stroud with an eye on the future, Goff not only “played well,” he played well beyond expectations. Indeed, Goff has taken control of this offense, pleading for longevity in Detroit, and there are compelling counterpoints the Lions should build around Goff in the near future.
It will be interesting to see if the draft analysts change their minds with the Lions’ pick moving into the top 3 and/or if Goff continues to improve his game.
With the next Lions pick, McShay lets Detroit choose…
Round 1, pick 16: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Again, McShay sticks with the majority of pseudo-drafts with his picks of Porter, who was the most-predicted Lions player at this point in our most recent pseudo-draft roundup, including pairing with Detroit from Brugler and former POD- Author Kent Lee Platte. who is there now Pro Soccer Network.
Returning to McShay for his reasoning:
“Okay, time to address the Lions defense. We’re all excited about Will Levis’ (sic) potential on this offense, but if they keep giving up 6.2 yards per game (last in the NFL) it doesn’t matter. Jeff Okudah has been up and down after being No. 3 overall in 2020, and Amani Oruwariye and Mike Hughes are both expected to be free agents in the spring. Porter — the son of former Steelers edge rusher Joey Porter — is my top cornerback to show high recognition skills, and he would add flexibility to this defense. He didn’t have a choice this season, but he did have 11 pass separations. Detroit exits Round 1 with two die-hard, physical playmakers on either side of the ball.”
It’s a bit surprising that McShay didn’t have a corner off the board until pick #16, but it’s even more interesting that he has Porter as his best corner. Most pundits who put out early big boards have Porter as a safe first round player, but Brugler and The Draft Network have him as their third corner, PFF lists him fourth while Platte’s network lists him second.
It’s also worth addressing the editorial snafu in the second sentence, where he refers to the Lions picking Levis in pick #4 over his actual pick, Stroud. Stroud is commonly identified as the QB2 in this class, but don’t be surprised to see Levis derided higher up for his “NFL attributes.” It’s very possible that McShay originally let the Lions take Levis – who went to the Falcons at No. 6 in his mock draft – but changed it and the editing in the Lions section was missing.