Led by head coach Dan Campbell, the Detroit Lions put together a 2022 season that defied all expectations. The team finished with a 9-8 record while nearly earning a trip to the playoffs.
Following the end of the season, the Lions have been major players in free agency. They have added upgrades on both sides of the ball, including safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, cornerback Cameron Sutton, running back David Montgomery, and guard Graham Glasgow.
Through the additions that the Lions have made, the team is already much improved on paper. Now heading into the 2023 NFL Draft, they will look to add even more star power. With two first-round picks, including sixth overall, and four selections over the first 55 picks, this team will look even better come the start of the season.
The Lions now find themselves in a position where they can use the draft to add the best player available. At both pick six and 18, they could add franchise-altering players.
With that being said, here are four players the Lions could target in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama
In last year's draft, the Lions added arguably the top edge rusher of the 2022 class in Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson. During his rookie season, Hutchinson was vital to the team's pass rush, recording 15 quarterback hits and 9.5 sacks.
When looking at the current state of the Lions pass rush, there is a lack of elite talent past Hutchinson. Adding a player such as Alabama's Will Anderson could give the team arguably the top young edge duo in the entire league.
During his three seasons at Alabama, Anderson recorded 204 total tackles, 58.5 tackles for loss, and 34.5 sacks. He also has a playstyle that will allow him to make an impact from day one.
If Anderson is on the board at sixth overall, he could be the perfect addition to this Lions defensive front.
Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
Along with the defensive front, the Lions have a need at linebacker. 2022 sixth-round pick Malcolm Rodriguez showed potential last season, and could very well be a reliable option at the position. Veteran linebacker Alex Anzalone also performed well in his role. But the team could still look to add a star to the group. Clemson's Trenton Simpson is arguably the most complete linebacker prospect in this year's class and could help revitalize the position.
During his three seasons at Clemson, Simpson developed into a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. Over 33 games, he recorded 165 total tackles, 100 solo tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, five defended passes, and three forced fumbles.
Simpson has found success with his speed, regularly flying across the field. With a 4.43 40-yard dash, he proved that he can keep up with even the fast players on the field.
If the Lions are looking to add a defender that can help elevate the entire defense, Simpson has the potential to be just that. While some may think drafting him at 16 is too early, a player with his upside could be worth the risk.
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
In 2022, much of the Lions production from the air came directly from star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. With Jameson Williams set to be at full strength heading into year two, and Marvin Jones Jr. returning to the group, this shouldn't be the case this upcoming season.
Even with the changes, the Lions could still afford to add another playmaker to the room. The addition of TCU's Quentin Johnston could upgrade this passing attack in a big way.
At 6-3 and 208 pounds, Johnston has the size to win one-on-one matchups with ease. While at TCU, he regularly battled against cornerbacks and came out victorious. Over 30 games, he recorded 115 receptions for 2.,190 receiving yards, and 14 touchdowns.
Adding Johnston alongside St. Brown and Williams could give the Lions one of the top receiving trios in the NFL. If the Lions are as committed to Jared Goff as it sounds, this move could make sense for them. This would give them an elite group of weapons in an NFC North that could very well be competitive once again in 2023.
Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
Another area of need for this Lions team comes at defensive tackle. When looking at the current makeup of the team's interior defenders, there is a lack of firepower. A player such as Pittburgh's Calijah Kancey could immediately address this problem.
During his three seasons at Pitt, Kancey was a star on the interior. Over 33 games, he recorded 91 total tackles, 52 solo tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss, and 16 sacks.
Kancey, alongside Hutchinson, could serve as the core of this Lions defensive front for the foreseeable future. With both of the =m taking the field, the unit could make major strides in 2023.