DETROIT – The Detroit Lions have been one of the busiest teams in the NFL this week, making five trades and drafting six players in the first two days.
Here’s a look at every move general manager Brad Holmes made on Thursday and Friday.
Trade down in first round
- Lions gave up: No. 6, No. 81
- Lions acquired: No. 12, No. 34, No. 168
Holmes didn’t wait long to get in on the action. After Devon Witherspoon was snagged by the Seattle Seahawks with the fifth overall pick, the Lions traded out of the No. 6 slot in order to turn a third-round pick into an early second-rounder.
The acquisition of No. 168 might have seemed inconsequential at the time, but Holmes would later send that back to the Cardinals to move into the third round.
No. 12 overall pick
- Lions selected: Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs
The Lions shocked everyone, including Gibbs himself, when they took him with the No. 12 pick. Running backs don’t typically return early first-round value in the NFL, but the Lions clearly wanted Gibbs and weren’t willing to risk him being taken before their next selection at No. 18.
Gibbs transferred to Alabama last season after spending the first two seasons of his career at Georgia Tech.
He carried the ball 151 times for the Crimson Tide in 2022, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and scoring seven touchdowns. He also caught 44 passes for 444 yards and three scores, which makes him a seemingly perfect fit in the Lions’ offense.
Questions surround the future of talented running back D’Andre Swift after this pick, because Gibbs does many of the same things well, and the Lions signed David Montgomery in free agency to take over the Jamaal Williams role.
No. 18 overall pick
- Lions selected: Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell
Detroit went off the beaten path again with its second pick, taking the best linebacker in the draft. Though it’s unconventional to pick a linebacker in the top 20, the Lions had a major need at the position, and Campbell seems to perfectly fit the culture Holmes and Dan Campbell are trying to build.
Jack Campbell was a defensive superstar at Iowa, making 265 tackles across his junior and senior seasons. He won the Butkus Award in 2022 as the top linebacker in college football and was named a unanimous All-American.
The Lions were probably also drawn to Jack Campbell because he is a two-time captain of the Iowa defense, and they’ll expect him to take on a similar leadership role in the heart of the Detroit defense going forward.
No. 34 overall pick
- Lions selected: Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta
Two top tight ends were available with the Lions on the clock for the third pick in the second round, and they decided to go away from the consensus once again and draft LaPorta over top-ranked Michael Mayer, out of Notre Dame.
LaPorta was incredibly productive in an otherwise dormant Iowa offense during his career. He caught 53 passes for 670 yards as a junior and then followed that up with 58 catches for 657 yards last season.
He only scored five touchdowns in his career, but Iowa doesn’t really believe in scoring touchdowns on offense, so don’t hold that against him.
It’s a bit surprising that the Lions opted for LaPorta over the superior blocker in Mayer, but they must think he has significantly more upside as a receiver.
Trade up in second round
- Lions gave up: No. 48, No. 159
- Lions acquired: No. 45
Holmes made a deal with the division-rival Green Bay Packers to move up three spots in the second round. It cost him a fifth-rounder.
No. 45 overall pick
- Lions selected: Alabama safety Brian Branch
The reason the Lions were so eager to move up to this spot: They wanted the best safety prospect in this year’s draft.
Branch was amazing at Alabama last season, making 90 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and three sacks. He also picked off a pair of passes and defended nine others.
The Lions address some of their concerns in the secondary during free agency, but Branch is a welcomed addition because of his versatility. He can play nickel and was regarded as one of Alabama’s smartest defenders, which is saying something.
Trade down in second round
- Lions gave up: No. 55, No. 194
- Lions acquired: No. 63, No. 122, No. 249
The Lions sent their third pick of the day to the Kansas City Chiefs in order to turn a sixth-round pick into a fourth-rounder. They also received a seventh-round pick, which they still own.
Trade down in second round
- Lions gave up: No. 63, No. 183
- Lions acquired: No. 68, No. 139
Holmes traded the last pick of the second round to the Denver Broncos in exchange for an early third-round pick and a fourth-round pick. Detroit also gave up a fifth-rounder.
No. 68 overall pick
- Lions selected: Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker
This felt like a perfect spot for the Lions to take a quarterback. Hooker is a highly regarded prospect, but the Lions didn’t take him early enough to create friction with starter Jared Goff.
Hooker, 25, was trending toward a possible Heisman Trophy campaign in 2022 before a knee injury ended his season.
He threw for 3,135 yards, 27 touchdowns, and only two interceptions in 11 games while completing 69.6% of his passes.
Hooker joins a very favorable situation in Detroit. There are no expectations that he will take the starting job from Goff, so he can heal and develop without being rushed. When he does play, he’ll do so in an offense that features one of the best lines in the league and a dedicated rushing attack.
Trade up in third round
- Lions gave up: No. 122, No. 139, No. 168
- Lions acquired: No. 92
Holmes called the Cardinals once again at the end of day two, trading three of the picks he’d acquired throughout the draft to get back into the third round.
No. 92 overall pick
- Lions selected: Western Kentucky defensive tackle Brodric Martin
The Lions definitely needed a tackle, but this was a strange move, at least on paper.
Martin was largely considered a sixth- or seventh-round prospect, but Holmes felt he needed to trade three picks to move into the third round and make this selection. It seems like Martin might have been available at No. 122, but the Lions weren’t willing to take that risk.
After starting his career at North Alabama, Martin transferred to Western Kentucky to play his final two seasons at the FBS level. He made 62 tackles and four sacks in two years with the Hilltoppers.