Lions 2023 draft: An offensive guard for every round
Up next in the draft series for 2023: the interior offensive linemen. The focus here is on guards, though some of the prospects listed across the draft rounds here might also fill in at center in a pinch.
The Lions are set in 2023 with Pro Bowl left guard Jonah Jackson and some combination of Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Graham Glasgow on the right side. They flank Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow, the NFL’s highest-paid interior lineman. There is long-term uncertainty at both guard spots, however; Jackson is entering the final season of his rookie contract, while Big V and Glasgow are both coming off serious injuries and on expiring contracts. There is almost no depth with any experience outside of brief, underwhelming appearances from Kayode Awosika, Logan Stenberg and Ross Pierschbacher (the reserve center).
Signing Graham Glasgow gives the Lions options on the offensive line
Here is one interior offensive line 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 during the draft weekend.
Lions 2023 draft: A cornerback for every round
This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, just one from each range, in an effort to show the relative level of talent that should be available in those rounds.
1st round: Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
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Skoronski was a very good left tackle for the Wildcats, but most NFL teams and draft analysts project him to kick inside to guard. He lacks length at “just” 6-foot-4 and with arms under 33 inches long, real detriments to playing outside in the NFL.
Skoronski’s technical mastery with his punch and coordinated footwork make him a candidate to be an impact starter at either OG spot right away. He has the upper-body strength, the proper bend and the anchor strength to thrive at guard. While he’s not the quickest off the snap and doesn’t have more than slightly above-average range, Skoronski is a high-floor prospect with perennial Pro Bowl potential at guard.
2nd round: O'Cyrus Torrence, Florida
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Torrence could very well be gone by the time the Lions pick in the second round. In fact, he’s probably a more viable option at No. 18 than No. 48 for Detroit, but the massive Louisiana transfer gets the nod here for the second round.
Torrence is an imposing 6-foot-5 and 330 pounds with giant (11 ¼”) hands and powerful arms. He’s a little stiff moving laterally and his recovery footwork and range aren’t great, but there isn’t a better people-mover in the run game in this draft. Oh yeah, he didn’t allow a sack in two seasons as a starting right guard for Florida, including two very impressive matchups with Georgia’s Jalen Carter (zero tackles, 1 QB pressure in head-to-head combat in ’21-’22).
3rd round: Steve Avila, TCU
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Avila certainly has the Lions’ interest. He’s met with the team twice already (Senior Bowl, Combine) and has a pre-draft visit scheduled as well.
It’s easy to see the appeal. Avila can play either guard spot or center and handle his business. As noted in our scouting profile on Avila, he’s a good stylistic fit for Detroit’s gap-blocking scheme more than he will appeal to zone-blocking teams.
As is the case with Torrence, Avila’s typical projected draft range falls between where the Lions pick in the prior round and when they’ll be on the clock in this one. A move into the late second might be required to draft the Horned Frogs standout.
4th round: Emil Ekiyor, Alabama
Ekiyor was impressive and reliable enough to start for two seasons at right guard for Alabama and another on the left side. He’s shorter (6-2) but uses long arms for his height to fire out and neutralize rushers before they can get rolling downhill at him.
He needs some technical mastery, but the tools are there to turn into a capable NFL starter. If Ekiyor can improve the core power with which he plays and keep his head up better, there’s a solid player with additional upside to also play center, if needed.
5th round: Chandler Zavala, North Carolina State
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Zavala is one of the top prospects who did not get a scouting combine invite. He’s already met with the Lions on a pre-draft visit and fits the power-oriented style of run blocking as a right guard. While not a great athlete, the 6-foot-5, 325-pound Zavala moves well enough in short spaces to carve out run lanes and anchors well in pass protection.
Zavala was the fifth-round selection in Russell Brown’s latest 7-round Lions mock draft.
6th round: Nick Broeker, Ole Miss
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Broeker made a smart career decision by bumping inside to left guard in his senior season after two years as the Rebels’ starting left tackle. His powerful initial punch and strong leg drive translate a lot better inside than outside at the next level.
The 6-foot-4 Broeker thrived at the Senior Bowl, where he was very good in drills at locking into a pass rusher and staying engaged without holding. He also showcased better athletic range than he showed at Ole Miss, though that was not reflected in his combine testing.
7th round: Andrew Vorhees, USC
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Vorhees is a prospect who would almost certainly be a Day 2 pick this year if not for an unfortunate injury. The USC bruiser tore his ACL at the Scouting Combine in early March. As a result, he’s almost certainly going to miss his entire rookie season.
He’ll be a draft-and-stash for a team that is willing to wait for a good all-around guard prospect. Vorhees might have to wait until the final round, however, in part because he’s missed considerable time with various injuries over the course of his USC career even before the torn ACL.
The Lions have certainly shown little aversion to rolling the dice on injured prospects under GM Brad Holmes; four members of the Lions draft class of 2022 were coming off season-ending injuries and unable to work out prior to the preseason. Vorhees could join that list of injury-relate draft values.