Lions are not looking for a starter in the NFL draft for a change, coming off successful season

DETROIT (AP) — The NFL draft is coming to Detroit and for a change, the Lions are coming off a successful season and have appeared to address every need with seemingly sound moves.

Detroit has the No. 29 pick overall and if it doesn't make a move to pick sooner, it will mark the latest the franchise has made a first-round pick.

The three-day event, which is expected to draw fans from all over to the Motor City, will be more of a showcase for the city than a chance for the Lions to add a desperately needed player in the draft.

About 150,000 people, many of them Lions fans, are expected to fill the streets around Campus Martius Park in the heart of downtown.

Lions general manager Brad Holmes is prepared to potentially disappoint Detroiters who show up Thursday morning or afternoon on April 25 waiting for their favorite team to be on the clock at the end of the night only to find out he traded out of the first round with an offer too good to refuse.

“Hopefully, our fans will forgive us,” Holmes said with a grin Thursday, a week before the draft.

Holmes has done enough in Detroit to earn the benefit of the doubt.

He has led one of the more impressive turnarounds in the league. Holmes, whose contract was extended during the offseason, took over a laughingstock of a franchise three years ago and turned it into one of the NFL's best last season.

In large part, he has done it by hitting more than missing on draft picks.

The former Los Angeles Rams executive chose Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell with his first selection, No. 7 overall, and had perhaps the steal of the 2021 draft in the fourth round by taking USC wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Sewell and St. Brown each earned a spot on the 2023 All-Pro team.

Edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, drafted No. 2 overall two years ago, has proven to be a good pick. With a pair of first- and second-round selections last year, Holmes landed four players who played key roles on the franchise's best team in generations.

All-Pro tight end Sam LaPorta, dynamic running back Jahmyr Gibbs, sturdy linebacker Jack Campbell and savvy defensive back Brian Branch will be tough quartet for any group of rookies to top this season in Detroit.

And that's OK for the Lions, who will go into the draft not expecting to take a player projected to start this upcoming season.

“Free agency is the time to pull out the depth chart and start plugging holes and all that kind of stuff,” Holmes said.

Detroit didn't make a big splash in free agency, but retained and added some players to fill holes.

Defensive tackle DJ Reader, cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Amik Robertson along with edge rusher Marcus Davenport should improve the team's shaky pass defense.

Pro Bowl guard Kevin Zeitler was signed and Graham Glasgow was re-signed, handling the top priorities for an offense that was among the league's best last season.


The Lions can use some help at cornerback, defensive end and guard.

Even though Detroit added two veterans at cornerback and retained one (Emmanuel Moseley), they cut one when Cameron Sutton was being sought — and later turned himself in on a domestic violence warrant. The Lions also signed Davenport to play opposite Hutchinson, but he was healthy enough to play just four games last season for Minnesota.

Finding a young guard to develop behind the 34-year-old Zeitler and Glasgow, who turns 32 in July, or to play in case they get banged up would be a good idea.


Detroit's offense has what it needs and on defense, the interior of the line and middle linebacker appear to be positions of strength.


Georgia cornerback Kamari Lassiter, projected as a first-round pick during his junior season, may be the best player available who also improves what might be the team's weakness.