Athletic player comparisons for the Detroit Lions 2023 draft class
The 2023 NFL is now behind us and it is time to start looking at the possibilities the newly added players can bring to the Detroit Lions. Even though this is not as an athletic class as years past, General Manager Brad Holmes’ new found confidence brought in players who can compete for starting spots right from the get go. Sure, some may say where the players were taken was not in line with positional value, but it is hard to deny that the Lions brought in strong football players to round out their roster.
We always like to compare player and see what their potential may become in the NFL. With the use of the Relative Athletic Score (RAS) tool, we were able compare the Lions 2023 draft class to current and former NFL players and possibly get an idea of the capacity they might be able to bring for the Lions.
Here are the best comparisons for the Lions 2023 draft class.
RB Jahmyr Gibbs: Detroit Lions RB Jahvid Best
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Gibbs: 1st round (12th overall)
Best: 1st round (30th overall)
Best’s rookie stats: 16 GP, 171 attempts, 555 yards, 3.2 average, 4 TDS, 58 rec, 487 yards, 2 TDs
Gibbs’ comparison feels in line with previous Lions running back Jahvid Best. Even though they might be considered undersized, they rely heavily on their home-run speed. Unfortunately, Best could not overcome his concussion problems and had to call it quits after two seasons. Gibbs will be relied upon as one of the missing pieces to open the Lions offense through his skills as a receiver and a rusher.
LB Jack Campbell: Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt
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Campbell: 1st round (18th overall)
Watt: 1st round (30th overall)
Watt’s rookie stats: 15 GP, 54 total tackles, 7 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 INT, 8 passes defended
Campbell’s athletic profile compares well with Steelers T.J. Watt. Both players tested very well and showed they have the athleticism that could bring problems to opposing offenses. Watt primarily plays EDGE for the Steelers and has worked quite well. He won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 when he racked up 22.5 sacks, tied for most in NFL history single season. It is unsure how the Lions will use Campbell, but with his athleticism, he could be a useful defensive weapon for the Lions.
TE Sam LaPorta: San Francisco 49ers George Kittle
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LaPorta: 2nd round (34th overall)
Kittle: 5th round (146th overall)
Kittle’s rookie stats: 15 GP, 43 recs, 515 yards, 12 yard average, 2 touchdowns
LaPorta shares a similar athletic profile to fellow Hawkeye, George Kittle. On the tight end scale, both are undersized, but they more than make up for it with their impressive athletic traits. Kittle has become a staple in the 49ers offense and has been labeled as one of the top tight ends in the NFL. Coming from Iowa, who pumps out tight ends left and right, LaPorta should have no issues adapting to the Lions offense which favors tight ends with his agility and run after the catch.
DB Brian Branch: Pittsburgh Steelers S Tre Norwood
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Branch: 2nd round (45th overall)
Norwood: 7th round (247th overall)
Norwood’s rookie stats: 17 GP, 38 total tackles, 4 passes defended, 1 INT, 105.1 passer rating allowed
Branch did not test very well, and that might have scared other teams causing his fall, but the Lions gained a defensive weapon that can learn from the veterans brought in this offseason. Branch’s profile compares to Tre Norwood, who like Branch, was billed as a Swiss army knife. He saw success his rookie season, but he lost his starting role this past year with a heavy missed tackle rate. Branch should not have that problem as he is one of the surest tacklers in this draft class and will fit right in the Lions’ defense.
QB Hendon Hooker: Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson
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Hooker: 3rd round (68th overall)
Watson: 1st round (12th overall)
Watson’s rookie stats: 7 GP, 61.8 completion %, 1,699 yards, 19 TDs, 8 INTs, 19 sacks, 269 rushing yards, 2 TDs
Hooker has rehabbing his injury leading towards no athletic profile, but from accounts he falls right in line with Deshaun Watson in size and play style as a dual threat quarterback Watson was brought on slow, but turned it up in the following seasons. He was suspended for the entire 2021 season, traded to the Browns, and saw modest production. More than likely, Hooker will have a redshirt year as he recovers, but he could turn into a solid backup and at best compete for the starting job in the future.
NT Brodric Martin: FA NT Damon Harrison
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Martin: 3rd round (96th overall)
When you think of one of the best nose tackles that have set foot on the field, Damon ‘Snacks” Harrison is right on the top of the list and the Lions know firsthand how effective he was in shutting down the running game. Martin will look to follow in those steps as the Lions’ nose tackle to help a running defense that had some issues last season. The giant of a man can fill in those gaps and clog those holes to funnel opposing rushers to the edges where Aidan Hutchinson or John Cominsky could be waiting for him. Martin should become a staple for the Lions defensive line especially on obvious running situations.
OT Colby Sorsdal: Cincinnati Bengals OT La'el Collins
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Sorsdal: 5th round (152nd overall)
Even though Sorsdal played tackle the majority of his time at William & Mary, his size might push him inside; hence the reason the switch to guard in his athletic profile. He compares well to La’El Collins, who also saw time at guard while with the Dallas Cowboys and then was moved over to tackle later down the road.
At his healthiest, Collins turned into a reliable offensive lineman, but he’s dealt with injuries and was recently suspended last year. Sorsdal could make his way as the Lions’ sixth offensive lineman and could compete for a starting role next year considering the Lions interior situation heading into the 2024 season.
WR Antoine Green: Pittsburgh Steelers WR George Pickens
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Green: 7th round (219th overall)
Pickens: 2nd round (52nd overall)
Pickens’ rookie stats: 17 GP, 52 recs, 801 yards. 4 TDs (XX% snap count)
Another Steelers comparison as Green’s profile is in line with George Pickens. Both players fall in line as the deep threat receiver with their strong speed. Pickens was hot or cold the majority of last season, but it turned into a reliable outside weapon for Kenny Pickett and will look to take it to the next step this season. Green will have an uphill battle to make it onto a roster this year, but he could make a case for special teams and make his way up through the season.