Heading toward next week’s NFL Combine, here is a new 7-round 2023 mock draft for the Detroit Lions.
One of the tentpole events in each pre-NFL draft process is coming next week, as the league and the invited draft prospects descend on Indianapolis for the 2023 NFL Combine. The Detroit Lions, and the other 31 teams, will get a closer look at players they may want to draft–via interviews, on-field workouts etc.
So now is as good a time as any for a fresh mock draft, right before the combine and a couple of weeks out from the start of free agency.
Using Pro Football Focus’ draft simulator, here’s how a new seven-round mock draft turned out for the Detroit Lions. No trades were made.
Detroit Lions pre-NFL Combine 7-round mock draft
Witherspoon has advanced himself as the potential first cornerback taken in this year’s draft, with shutdown cornerback skills and demeanor in spades. He is PFF’s top-ranked corner in this class right now, as the site gave him a 25.3 passer rating when targeted last season with 22 catches for 206 yards and no touchdowns allowed on 62 targets.
Witherspoon is drawing a comp Lions’ fans will certainly like–Darius Slay. ESPN’s Matt Miller (subscription required) did so in his evaluation of Slay as part of the site’s grading and finding comps for first-round prospects (h/t to SI.com).
An aggressive and physical cornerback, Witherspoon is sticky in coverage and uses his size (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) and quickness to stay in-phase and eliminate targets,” Miller explained. “He had three interceptions and 14 pass breakups this past season. And while run defense doesn’t get talked about much with corner prospects, Witherspoon’s open-field tackling ability is the best in the class at the position.”
Witherspoon seems like a Dan Campbell kind of player, plain and simple. And it doesn’t get much better than a comparison to Slay.
When this pick came, Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee was still on the board. So why Kancey?
Kancey’s overall PFF grade for last season was markedly better than Bresee’s (91.8 vs 73.5). He played one more game than Bresee did (11 vs. 10), but Kancey (per PFF) had 30 quarterback hurries to Bresee’s 17 and eight sacks to Bresee’s three. Over the last two sasons, Kancey was officially credited with 14.5 sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss. Bresee only played four games in 2021, so we’ll throw that out. But in his other two college seasons he totaled 7.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss.
What a player is asked to do within a defensive scheme has an impact on production. But there’s a strong argument that Kancey is just a better player than Bresee, so I nabbed him here for the Lions.