QB, running back, D-line? What in the world will Detroit Lions do in first round of NFL draft?

Brad Holmes has options with 2 first-round picks

Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes and head football coach Dan Campbell talk after the Detroit Lions Training Camp on July 28, 2021 in Allen Park, Michigan. (Nic Antaya, 2021 Getty Images)

DETROIT – What in the world are the Detroit Lions going to do in the first round of the NFL draft?

I can’t remember ever going into a draft with less certainty about what the Lions will do. The team usually has a handful of very obvious weaknesses to address, and that narrows down the field of possible choices.

But this year, the holes in the roster are less glaring, and the draft options seem limitless.

Anyone who follows mock drafts has watched this guessing game play out in real time. A few months ago, many experts thought the Lions were likely to take a quarterback with the No. 6 overall pick. Then, it was a cornerback. Now, it seems like the consensus might be edge rusher?

General manager Brad Holmes has two first-round picks at his disposal: No. 6 and No. 18. Last year, he got creative on draft night after choosing Aidan Hutchinson at No. 2 overall and found a way to trade up to No. 12 to grab Jameson Williams, as well.

Read about the one thing that went wrong this offseason ---> Jameson Williams suspended 6 games

Lions fans are going into Thursday night’s draft teeming with confidence because of how Holmes’ picks panned out in 2022. Not only was Hutchinson one of the top rookies in the league, but sixth-round picks Malcolm Rodriguez and James Houston starred on defense while third-round pick Kerby Joseph played well in the secondary.

Holmes has definitely earned the benefit of the doubt, and that’s why this year’s draft uncertainty feels more like excited anticipation than the typical Lions dread.

Detroit definitely needs to address the defense in some capacity, but with two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and a third-round pick, Holmes has options.

Could he draft a quarterback if someone like C.J. Stroud drops to No. 6? I wouldn’t rule out the possibility. As good as Jared Goff was last season, it’s not exactly difficult to thrive as the Lions quarterback right now. They have an elite offensive line, a strong running game, and weapons at receiver.

If there’s a chance to solidify and upgrade the most important position on the football field, fans should keep an open mind. Goff isn’t a standout long-term.

What about running back? The Lions already have a pair of playmakers in D’Andre Swift and David Montgomery, but if they think Bijan Robinson is a superstar, could he be an option with one of their picks?

Cornerback was the most obvious need for the Lions heading into the offseason, but Holmes went out and beefed up the secondary in free agency, signing C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Cameron Sutton, and Emmanuel Moseley.

You can never have too many cornerbacks in the NFL, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lions still used one of the first-rounders to fortify that position. Devon Witherspoon, out of Illinois, is a name many Lions fans have heard.

Would the Lions dare take another shot at a first-round tight end, even though Eric Ebron and T.J. Hockenson turned out to be a bit underwhelming in recent years? Michael Mayer and Dalton Kincaid are considered first-round talents and could fill the void left by Hockenson while also helping to make up for losing Williams in the passing game for six weeks.

Speaking of Williams, could Holmes be tempted by the star potential of a wide receiver like Jaxon Smith-Njigba now that the Lions will be shorthanded?

My best guess is that the Lions will target an edge rusher at No. 6. Will Anderson would be a no-brainer if he somehow fell out of the top five, but that doesn’t seem likely. Jalen Carter has some red flags, but he was widely considered a top-tier prospect at the beginning of draft season.

Pressuring the quarterback is probably the most important goal for every NFL defense, and while the Lions have a nice foundation along the defensive line with Hutchinson, Houston, and Buggs, they could certainly benefit from some added depth.

Usually, draft season is the most exciting time of the year for Lions fans because the team has so many needs to address. But this time is different. They’re coming off a very strong season and looking for the players who can help them take that next step into legitimate Super Bowl contention.

Aaron Rodgers is no longer in the division, the Chicago Bears had the worst record in the NFL, and the Minnesota Vikings are widely expected to take a step back. If Holmes can nail this draft, the Lions will feel really good about their chances to compete for their first NFC North title.

The stakes are high this weekend. Whatever happens, Lions fans should enjoy it -- they’ve waited long enough.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.