Defense will be the word early in the 2023 NFL Draft for the Detroit Lions, and Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson has landed with them in two fresh mock drafts.
Even with how much better Aaron Glenn’s unit generally played late in the season, the Detroit Lions will be prioritizing adding more young talent to the defense in April’s draft. Two first-round picks, and four picks in the top-60, sets them up nicely to do that.
Both have the Lions going cornerback at No. 6 overall–Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon for Jeremiah and Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez for Broback. But at No. 18, Jeremiah and Broback are of one mind over who the Lions should go with, Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson.
The Lions add another athletic playmaker in Simpson, who could slide right next to Malcolm Rodriguez to form an excellent young LB corps
Detroit’s defense is full of exciting players that play the game with good energy. So, it’s hard for me to pass on a player that would fit in well with that group. Trenton Simpson’s an athletic playmaker at linebacker, and his ability to make plays all over the field puts him in a great position to improve this defense.
Detroit Lions 2023 NFL Draft: Who is Trenton Simpson?
Simpson was rated as a five-star recruit in the 2020 class by 247 Sports, and he of course landed at Clemson to play for Dabo Swinney.
He didn’t play a lot as a freshman (eight games), but he did have four sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. In 13 games as a sophomore in 2021 he had 65 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and two passs breakups. In 12 games this past season he had 72 total tackles, four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
Simpson is regarded as an athletic playmaker, with Jeremiah and Broback both using that exact phrase in their evaluation. But don’t mistake that for lacking size, heft or power, as he measures 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds.
Simpson, as Jeremiah suggested, would look pretty good next to Malcolm Rodriguez in the Lions’ linebacking corps. That would mean Alex Anzalone (if he’s re-signed) moves into a backup role, eventually if not right away. But so be it if Simpson is the pick at 18, and he proves he’s ready to start.