Lions 2023 draft: A cornerback for every round
The Detroit Lions have nicely fleshed out the cornerback position for 2023 in free agency this offseason. Long-term, however, there is still quite a bit of room for GM Brad Holmes to add more help at CB. Only newcomer Cameron Sutton, holdover starter Jerry Jacobs and little-used slot Chase Lucas are under contractual control beyond 2023.
Here is one cornerback prospect that fits the Lions from each round of the draft. Detroit doesn’t currently have any picks in the fourth or seventh rounds, but players from those ranges are included because trades happen all the time on draft weekend.
This is no meant to be a comprehensive list, just one from each range.
1st round: Devon Witherspoon
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Witherspoon thrives in press-man coverage and getting physical with receivers on the outside. He’s smaller than ideal (5-11/181) and his speed isn’t elite, but Witherspoon plays like a bigger corner. The ball skills and outward confidence could very well remind defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn of his own Pro Bowl playing days.
2nd round: Kelee Ringo, Georgia
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Ringo might not last to the current Lions range in the 2nd round (48 and 55 overall). He’s often mocked in the late first round thanks to his outstanding athletic ability and playmaking knack in big games. Detroit would be a nice fit for an elite athlete like Ringo with a wildly inconsistent game and his concentration lapses with the Lions’ strong culture and emphasis on player development.
3rd round: Julius Brents, Kansas State
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Brents offers outstanding length and uses it very well along the sideline. His eye-popping athletic testing (41-inch vertical, 6.63-second 3-cone drill) at the NFL Scouting Combine raised Brents’ profile, though it hasn’t always translated to the field for the Wildcats’ standout, especially against quicker wideouts on the outside.
Of note: Brents played under Lions defensive assistant Shaun Dion Hamilton at the Senior Bowl.
4th round: Eli Ricks, Alabama
Ricks transferred from LSU to Alabama and consistently displayed the quickness and instinctive coverage savvy to fit into both secondaries. He’s still technically raw and needs to trust his eyes more than his hands in man coverage, but the 6-2 Ricks can kick inside to play against bigger slots; he’s better in coverage close to the line than deep. That’s something the Lions can utilize.
5th round: Starling Thomas V
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Thomas earned a Shrine Bowl berth thanks to 18 pass breakups over the last two seasons. He made Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks” list for his strength and speed; he won a state title in Alabama in the 100-meter dash in high school and was GPS timed at over 24 MPH while at UAB.
The speed definitely shows on film (see their game vs. LSU), and Thomas can play a physical style on the outside. He’s used to playing press-man, though his technique needs some polish. Thomas also offers some value as a return specialist option.
6th round: Myles Brooks, Louisiana Tech
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Brooks transferred up from Stephen F. Austin to Louisiana Tech and proved he belonged at the higher level. A well-built outside-only corner with good ball skills, Brooks proved he could tackle and shed blocks in an early matchup against Clemson.
He’s got just average play speed and Brooks needs better footwork in his transitions, which is why he’ll likely be available when the Lions pick at No. 194.
7th round: Eric Garror, Louisiana
Garror is a quicker-than-fast corner who will need to play inside in the NFL at just 5-foot-9 and 178 pounds. He can be physical for his size and mirrors inside routes well. The lack of size and speed showed in a late-season loss against Florida State, however.
Where Garror really earns his draftable status is for his pun return skills. He ran back two punts for touchdowns as a senior and is electric with the ball in his hands a just a little space.