The Detroit Lions far exceeded expectations this season, finishing just a tie-breaker short of the NFL playoffs. Now the team’s mission is to build on that success in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Lions’ draft this season includes two first-round picks thanks to the Los Angeles Rams and the gift that keeps on giving, the Matthew Stafford trade. Detroit’s biggest needs are on defense, and that is where the team will likely go with at least one, if not both, of their first two selections. They could also use their bonus pick to help secure the franchise’s future at quarterback with a player like Anthony Richardson of Florida. Along with the Gators QB, here are two other players the franchise should consider with the Lions’ No. 6 pick and at the No. 18 spot.

The fascinating thing about these three players is that, before the combine sorts the first round out a little better, you can make a case for them at both spots the Lions pick.

DT Bryan Bresee, Clemson

The Detroit Lions struck gold last offseason in terms of edge players. Aidan Hutchinson (Round 1, pick No. 2), Josh Paschal (Round 2, pick No. 46), and James Houston (Round 6, pick No. 217) combined for 19.5 sacks this season.

To build on this incredible group of outside pass rushers, the Lions could use some help pushing the pocket from the middle in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee is already an elite-level run-stopper and had 3.5 sacks in 10 games last season. He has missed some games in his career due to injuries, as well as for a kidney infection and after the tragic death of his sister, Ella, from brain cancer.

If the medical evaluation at the combine goes well, Bresee could go as high as the Lions’ No. 6 pick. Even if there are some injury question marks, he is still too good and perfectly fits a team need for the Lions to pass up when the team picks again in the No. 18 slot.

CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State

Right now, there are several cornerbacks who could go between the Lions’ No. 6 pick and their No. 18 selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. The combine and individual teams’ defensive scheme needs will eventually sort them out a bit, but for now, all are viable top 20 candidates.

This list of first-round CBs includes Christian Gonzalez of Oregon, Kelee Ringo of Georgia, Cam Smith of South Carolina, Devon Witherspoon of Illinois, and Clark Phillips III of Utah. However, the one that fits Detroit best is Joey Porter Jr. from the Penn State Nittany Lions.

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At 6-foot-2 and almost 200 pounds, Porter is the perfect size to become a modern-day shutdown CB. And that’s just what he was at Penn State, leading the FBS in forced incompletion rate at 37.9%, per ESPN.

Plus, Joey Porter Jr. is the son of retired All-Pro linebacker Joey Porter who played 13 NFL seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, and Arizona Cardinals. The elder Porter is not only a former player and coach but also one of the most intimidating players in NFL history.

How can Dan Campbell — who loves ex-NFLers and players who want to bite kneecaps — pass up a chance to draft a corner with that type of pedigree?

QB Anthony Richardson, Florida

This is the outside-the-box option for the Lions’ No. 6 pick or even the Lions’ draft choice at No. 18. At 6-foot-4, 232 pounds, with excellent football IQ, great character, a cannon arm, and elite athleticism, Anthony Richardson is by far the highest-ceiling prospect at QB in the 2023 NFL draft.

The Gators signal-caller is still incredibly raw, though, and some question his killer instinct. Richardson needs to go to a team that won’t expect him to start in Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season.

Enter the Detroit Lions.

After getting the No. 6 pick via the Matthew Stafford trade, the Lions might not be picking this high in the draft for a long while if the rebuild keeps going according to plan. That means getting a QB of the future could be tough in coming drafts.

Goff earned the starting QB role next season and has two more years (2023, 2024) on his deal at a now-reasonable rate of around $31 million per season. Drafting Anthony Richardson in with the Lions’ No. 6 pick (or at 18) keeps one eye on the future while using the other for a player to help now boosts the team in the present.

Taking your potential 2025 starting QB in the 2023 NFL Draft is risky, but Campbell has some excellent job security right now, and if the gamble pays off, he could be coaching the Lions for a decade to come.