• Free agency recap: This offseason, the Lions went to work on fixing their secondary, long a glaring weakness for the franchise.
• Best move of the offseason: Before tearing his ACL at Tennessee last year, Hendon Hooker had the Volunteers in the mix for a national title run and almost certainly would have been a Heisman Trophy finalist had he remained healthy.
• Outlook for 2023: With a weak NFC North division and a thin conference as a whole, Detroit belongs in the discussion of top teams in the NFC.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
As the dust settles on the 2023 NFL offseason, it's time to assess how each team fared in their quest to improve their roster.
Recapping blockbuster trades and high-profile signings to shrewd draft selections, PFF offers an in-depth assessment of all 32 NFL teams, shedding light on the potential impact these moves may have on their fortunes in the upcoming campaign.
For more information on each team's draft selections and offseason moves, download the PFF draft guide today!
DETROIT LIONS OFFSEASON GRADE: B+
|FA signings||FA losses|
|CB Cameron Sutton||WR D.J. Chark (CAR)|
|S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson||RB Jamaal Williams (NO)|
|RB David Montgomery||S DeShon Elliott (MIA)|
|CB Emmanuel Moseley||CB Mike Hughes (ATL)|
|WR Marvin Jones Jr.|
|LB Alex Anzalone|
|DI Isaiah Buggs|
|IOL Graham Glasgow|
|T Germain Ifedi|
This offseason, the Lions went to work on fixing their secondary, long a glaring weakness for the franchise.
In steps safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who has racked up 33 forced incompletions and 51 run stops during his four-year career with Philadelphia and New Orleans.
At cornerback, help comes in the form of two excellent veterans, Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley. Sutton recorded a career-best 14 forced incompletions a season ago, while Mosely forced five in just five games of action.
The Lions also inked a key upgrade in running back David Montgomery. Last season, 71% of Montgomery’s yardage came after initial contact, and in four seasons with the Bears, he averaged more than 48 forced missed tackles per year.
R1 (12): RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
R1 (18): LB Jack Campbell, Iowa
R2 (34): TE Sam LaPorta, Iowa
R2 (45): S Brian Branch, Alabama
R3 (68): QB Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
R3 (96): DI Brodric Martin, Western Kentucky
R5 (152): T Colby Sorsdal, William & Mary
R6 (219): WR Antoine Green, North Carolina
With Detroit seemingly ignoring positional value with its first three picks, it’s easy to forget that the players they actually drafted are all excellent prospects who should make immediate impacts in 2023.
Gibbs will be a dangerous component of the passing game, as he caught 106 passes and forced 40 missed tackles as a receiver during his three seasons with Georgia Tech and Alabama. Ditto for TE Sam LaPorta, who put up 368 yards after contact and forced 20 missed tackles for Iowa last year.
Linebacker Jack Campbell led all off-ball linebacker prospects in coverage grade last year (92.9), recording 16 stops in the passing game without allowing a single touchdown into his coverage.
Best move of the offseason: Drafting Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker
The Lions made a host of strong moves in free agency and the draft, but one of the more underrated may be the most critical to the long-term viability of the franchise.
Yes, current starter Jared Goff finished last season strong, earning PFF passing grades over 75.0 in five of the last six games. However, he still shows too many inconsistencies throughout his game, and the Lions have had ample time to extend his contract without showing the confidence to do so.
Before tearing his ACL at Tennessee last year, Hooker had the Volunteers in the mix for a national title run and almost certainly would have been a Heisman Trophy finalist had he remained healthy. His dynamic play-making ability, both in terms of his athleticism and intermediate and deep passing, screams “modern NFL Franchise quarterback.”
Part of getting the most out of playmakers like Jameson Williams is having a passer capable of connecting with him on all parts of the field, and as long as Hooker can adjust to the mental side of the NFL game, he is far more physically equipped to unleash the full capabilities of the Lions offense than Jared Goff is.
Remaining team needs: Swing tackle
The Lions need to protect themselves from injury to either of their stars and took a recent stab at solving the issue by signing Germain Ifedi. However, if Ifedi is unable to elevate his play — he has posted an overall grade above 60.0 just once in his seven-year NFL career — they will be relying on players who struggled last year.
Early position battle to watch: WR Josh Reynolds vs. WR MARVIN JONES JR.
Right now, the X receiver spot may be the only offensive position the Lions don’t have set for the long term. For now, that battle will be between Josh Reynolds, who has shown the ability in the past to fill in admirably but is not a true alpha, and Marvin Jones Jr., who is now on his second stint with Detroit and is 33 years old.
Moreover, because of the presence of Amon-Ra St. Brown and Kalif Raymond — and Jameson Williams once he returns from his six-week suspension — there won’t be a lot of personnel packages that have Jones and Reynolds sharing the field. The Lions’ scheme doesn’t require as much from the X position due to the production it gets from the slot, tight ends and running backs, but this will still be one of the more intriguing camp battles to watch in Allen Park this summer.
After ending the 2022 season on an 8-2 heater — the pinnacle of which was bringing an emphatic end to the Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay — the rest of the league can finally see Detroit’s “attitude adjustment,” and the time is now.
As with every team, general health will play an important factor in how far Detroit can go this offseason, but with a weak NFC North division and a thin conference, Detroit belongs in the discussion of top teams in the NFC.