The Detroit Lions are one of four teams to have two first-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, thanks to the Matthew Stafford trade with the Los Angeles Rams that landed the franchise a quality starting quarterback in Jared Goff and two first-round picks over the last two years.
Thanks to the Rams having a disastrous 2022 season, the Lions were rewarded with the No. 6 overall pick in the draft -- in addition to their own pick at No. 18. Detroit is coming off a surprising 9-8 season, falling a tiebreaker short of advancing to the postseason in Dan Campbell's second season as head coach.
The Lions have a capable quarterback in Goff, so where do they go from here? Do they hope a franchise quarterback who can be Goff's successor falls to No. 6, or pull the trigger and trade up? With good defensive players on the board, do the Lions stand pat at that spot or trade down and stockpile more picks for future drafts?
There's a golden opportunity for the Lions to add to an already talented roster and compete for the NFC North title in 2023. These manufactured trades (both up and down from No. 6 and No. 18) could get the Lions in a position to be an NFC contender sooner rather than later.
Lions 2023 draft picks
- No. 6 (1st round)
- No. 18 (1st round)
- No. 48 (2nd round)
- No. 55 (2nd round)
- No. 81 (3rd round)
- No. 152 (5th round)
- No. 159 (5th round)
- No. 183 (6th round)
- No. 194 (6th round)
Trade down from No. 6 pick with Falcons
- Lions trade: No. 6 pick (1st round), No. 152 pick (5th round)
- Falcons trade: No. 8 pick (1st round), No. 113 pick (4th round)
Detroit decides to move back from No. 6, but not very far as the Falcons find a defensive prospect they are aggressive with in moving up a couple spots for, and part ways with the eighth pick in the fourth round in the process. The Lions don't have a fourth-round pick in this year's draft, but have multiple fifth-round picks so they can afford to part ways with one of them.
The Lions still have two first-round picks (No. 8 and No. 18), both their second-round picks (No. 48 and No. 55) and now have a high fourth-round pick (No. 113) to go with their third-round pick (No. 81). Having six of the first 113 picks isn't bad at all.
Where do the Lions lean at No. 8? Cornerback could significantly be in play with Christian Gonzalez and Devon Witherspoon with the trade down to No. 8, a player to develop behind Emmanuel Moseley and Cameron Sutton. Offensive lineman Peter Skoronski could be in play, too.
Trade up from No. 6 pick with Cardinals
- Lions trade: No. 6 pick (1st round), No. 81 pick (3rd round), No. 183 pick (6th round)
- Cardinals trade: No. 3 pick (1st round), No. 105 pick (4th round)
The Lions could significantly use an edge rusher to pair with Aidan Hutchinson in the draft. Why not load up at the position and get the opportunity to select Will Anderson at No. 3 overall -- knowing the Cardinals are shopping that pick.
Arizona would have better offers, but getting another third-round pick to move down three spots is intriguing. The Cardinals would have three third-round picks (No. 66, No. 81, and No. 96) while the Lions part ways with their third and their top pick in the sixth round (which is essentially a gift for the Cardinals) to move up three spots. The top two picks are going to be quarterbacks, so move up and draft Anderson.
If the Cardinals ask for a second-round pick, the Lions can offer them No. 55 (second round) along with the sixth. That price may be steep, but worth it for the opportunity at Anderson.
Trade down from No. 6 pick with Titans
- Lions trade: No. 6 pick (1st round), No. 153 pick (5th round)
- Titans trade: No. 11 pick (1st round), No. 72 pick (3rd round)
The Titans are giving up a bit more here, but that's the price to pay to move into the top 10 and have the opportunity to get one of the top four quarterbacks in this draft. The Lions will still have two first-round picks and get a high third-round pick (No. 72) to go with their other third-round pick (No. 81).
That's two first-round picks (No. 11 and No. 18), two second-round picks (No. 48 and No. 55) and two third-round picks (No. 72 and No. 81) to start this draft. Six picks in the top 81!
Detroit can afford to wait until No. 159 to pick again, or it can just maneuver around the draft board to stockpile more picks in the middle rounds -- or get more picks for 2024. Cornerback or edge rusher are enticing at No. 11.
Trade away No. 18 pick to Dolphins
- Lions trade: No. 18 pick (1st round)
- Dolphins trade: 2024 1st-round pick, No. 197 pick (6th round)
This is a huge gamble by the Lions, yet an opportunity to have two first-round picks in 2024 -- stockpiling future assets. The Dolphins only have four picks in this year's draft, and don't have a first-round pick because they forfeited the selection. Why not take advantage of the situation and just trade the pick away to a team like Miami and get their first-round pick for next season in return?
The Dolphins are likely to be a playoff team in 2023, so trading the pick for a potential selection lower than No. 18 in 2024 is a gamble. That's why the Lions need to ask for a good faith payment in one of the Dolphins picks (that's where the sixth-round pick comes in). Miami won't give up its third-round pick (No. 84), but Detroit could be greedy and ask.
What if the Dolphins have a poor 2023 season? What if Tua Tagovailoa gets hurt again or injuries in a competitive AFC East hurt Miami? That pick becomes higher than No. 18 and the Lions have two first-round picks in 2024 to boot.
Why would the Dolphins even entertain this, knowing they only have four picks in 2023 and probably prefer to stockpile them? What if a game-changing player like Bijan Robinson falls to No. 18 on draft night because he plays running back? Would that be enough for the Dolphins to trade away a future first-round pick and pull the trigger, knowing they are an elite running back away from having arguably one of the most unstoppable offenses in the NFL?
Again, it's highly unlikely the Dolphins would do this -- but Robinson is a top-five player in this draft Miami could get at No. 18. Robinson's talent in Mike McDaniel's offense is worth five years of team control.
The move would be risky by general manager Brad Holmes, but that's how Eagles general manager Howie Roseman ended up with a top 10 pick after Philadelphia made the Super Bowl. The risk may be worth the reward.