Mel Kiper’s predictions for 2023 first-round picks

With the NFL playoffs drawing closer to its end, it is officially mock draft season for football fans. Many fans turn to analysts like Todd McShay and Mel Kiper to get an idea of who their team could pick come April.

Kiper, in particular, has provided NFL fans with his mock drafts for decades. He has provided some great takes, some bad takes, and even upset an actual NFL franchise.

Fans of the Detroit Lions are certainly interested in the 2023 NFL Draft. After finishing with a winning record in 2022, there is a buzz around the Motor City that hasn’t been felt in a very long time.

The Lions enter the 2023 NFL Draft with two first-round picks. They own the sixth overall pick by virtue of the Los Angeles Rams, while their original selection is 18th overall.

With no further ado, let’s take a look at how Mel Kiper sees the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft playing out for the Detroit Lions.

Detroit Lions Pick 6: Tyree Wilson, defensive end, Texas Tech

With the sixth overall pick, Kiper has the Lions taking an edge rusher. While Detroit did play very well the final 10 games, their defense wasn’t great. Wilson goes a long way toward turning the Lions defense around.

“He can use his burst at the snap to beat offensive tackles on passing downs or use his 6-foot-6 frame to hold up against the run,” Kiper wrote about the Texas Tech product.

The Lions drafted an edge rusher in the top 10 last season. They took former Michigan Wolverine Aidan Hutchinson with the second overall pick. Hutchinson had 9.5 sacks and three interceptions in his rookie campaign.

Detroit also potentially found a gem in the sixth round. Former Jackson State star James Houston burst on the scene on Thanksgiving, sacking Josh Allen twice. He went on to record eight sacks in seven games.

That being said, the Lions could stand to add an edge rusher in this draft. Houston works best in pass-rushing situations, whereas Wilson can defend both the run and pass.

Hutchinson and Wilson would give opposing offensive fits for years. And Detroit’s ability to rotate Houston and Josh Paschal would give them one of the most promising defensive lines in the NFL.

Detroit Lions Pick 18: Christian Gonzalez, cornerback, Oregon

The Lions continue to add to their defense with Kiper’s next prediction. Detroit’s secondary was less than ideal, even with the emergence of rookie Kerby Joseph and third-year corner Jeff Okudah.

“Gonzalez was a lockdown defender at Colorado before transferring to Oregon last year, where he picked off four passes and improved every week,” Kiper wrote about the Oregon product.

Gonzalez had an excellent season with the Ducks. He picked off four passes and recorded 16 passes defended in 12 games. Two of those four picks came against Colorado in early November.

The Lions could go in a few different directions with this pick. They could select an interior defensive lineman to go with 2021 third-round pick Alim McNeill. Maybe Detroit uses the pick on a quarterback to sit behind Jared Goff.

All options considered, corner seems like a safe bet for this pick. Whether the Lions select a corner with this pick or trade it for a corner remains to be seen. If Detroit picks, Gonzalez is a big get for Dan Campbell’s defense.

The Lions are hoping for Okudah to build off a promising 2022 in 2023. If he can do that, then he and Gonzalez give Detroit an exciting duo at the cornerback position for years to come.

The Oregon product would join a defense chock-full of promise and potential. The foundation for one of the league’s best defenses in the future would be in place if Detroit went this route.

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