Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s unit wasn’t incredibly successful in stopping the run or the pass this past season. In fact, Detroit allowed the third-most passing yards (4,179) and the fourth-most rushing yards (2,491) during the ‘22 campaign.
Subsequently, Holmes & Co. have pressing needs all across the defensive side of the ball. Specifically, the Lions should be looking to add reinforcements along the interior of the defensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary this offseason.
Fast-forward to the 2023 NFL Draft, taking place in Kansas City, Mo., from April 27–29. Detroit presently possesses the No. 6 overall – courtesy of the L.A. Rams – and the No. 18 overall picks in the draft.
With the first of two first-rounders, I have Holmes selecting Clemson interior defensive lineman Bryan Bresee.
Bresee, standing in at 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, is adept at both stopping the run and getting after opposing quarterbacks.
He particularly excels at rushing the passer, though.
Bresee recorded a Pro Football Focus pass-rushing grade of 82.0 in his final season at Clemson. He also produced 60 total pressures in his three years as a member of the Tigers’ defensive line.
As PFF’s Mitch Kaiser pens, “Bresee has arguably the best size and strength combination among interior defenders in college football. He is so powerful and quick that he just simply bulldozes linemen. You will not find many defensive tackles who have Bresee’s pass-rushing instincts. He posted an 81.2 pass-rushing grade as a true freshman and has maintained a career grade over 66 in that category. His versatility and quickness make him so dangerous as a defender. He also rarely misses tackles, which is so critical when stopping the run.”
Meanwhile, at No. 18, I have the Lions selecting Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Gonzalez has the ability to match up with and suffocate opposing teams’ No. 1 wide receivers. He also possesses solid foot quickness and change-of-direction ability, to go along with high-end long speed.
The Ducks product finished with a career-best four interceptions in his final collegiate season. He also posted 11 passes defensed.
Gonzalez has the necessary physical makeup and athleticism to grow into a lockdown cornerback at the next level. And, he would help stabilize a Detroit secondary that is in dire need of quality cover corners.
According to NFL Draft Bible, Gonzalez is “an exceptional athlete that has all the movement skills and demeanor of a true shutdown corner.”