Lions address wide variety of needs in draft, deal Swift
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Up, down and all around — the Detroit Lions traded picks throughout the NFL draft and wound up adding players to every offensive and defensive unit.
General manager Brad Holmes retained only two of his original draft choices as he maneuvered his way to two picks in each of the first three rounds. The draft was highlighted by the Lions' first-rounders, running back Jahmyr Gibbs and linebacker Jack Campbell.
Offensively, the Lions got immediate help in the backfield and at tight end, though not without raising eyebrows along the way.
The Lions held the No. 6 overall pick via a 2021 trade with the Los Angeles Rams. Holmes traded down to the No. 12 slot in a five-pick swap with Arizona and chose Alabama's Gibbs, who acknowledged he was surprised to go so early. Gibbs, who averaged 6.1 yards per carry for the Crimson Tide last season, and free agent signee David Montgomery will form the team's 1-2 backfield punch.
“We didn't acquire a running back in the first round. We acquired an elite weapon to keep our offense explosive in the first round,” Holmes said. “We didn't acquire an inside linebacker in the first round. We acquired a legit anchor to elevate our defense in the first round. That's what our ultimate goal is, that's what our vision is.”
The addition of Gibbs made D'Andre Swift, a 2020 second-round pick, expendable. He was dealt to Philadelphia on Saturday for the Eagles' fourth-round pick in 2025, along with a seventh-round pick swap this season. That allowed Detroit to move up 30 spots in that round.
Swift scored a combined 25 touchdowns rushing and receiving in his first three seasons. Injuries cost him seven games the past two years and he often played limited snaps last season. He's entering the final year of his rookie contract.
“I think it was a win-win for all parties involved,” Holmes said.
Detroit also moved up in the second round via the deal with the Cardinals and nabbed pass-catching tight end Sam LaPorta. The Iowa product will essentially replace T.J. Hockenson, whom the Lions dealt to Minnesota at last season's trade deadline. LaPorta had 111 receptions in his last two seasons with the Hawkeyes.
Holmes moved down five slots in the third round in a four-pick swap with Denver and chose a potential future starting quarterback, Tennessee's Hendon Hooker. Last season's Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Hooker is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in November. Hooker threw 80 touchdown passes combined for Virginia Tech and Tennessee, with just 12 interceptions.
If healthy, he'll battle Nate Sudfeld for the backup spot behind starter Jared Goff.
“There's really no pressure on him,” Holmes said.
Hooker could replace Goff down the road, depending upon how this season shakes out. Goff's contract doesn't have guaranteed money in 2024.
Detroit added to its already highly regarded offensive line with its fifth-round pick (No. 152 overall), tackle Colby Sorsdal of William & Mary.
In the seventh round, the Lions chose North Carolina wide receiver Antoine Green. With Jameson Williams sidelined six games due to a gambling-related suspension, Green could add depth if he makes the squad.
Defensively, Holmes retained the Lions' original first-rounder at No. 18 and used it on Campbell, who led Iowa in tackles last season. Holmes moved up three spots in the second round in a trade with Green Bay to grab Alabama defensive back Brian Branch, who could jump into the mix at safety or cornerback.
Detroit also moved a fourth and two fifth-round selections to Arizona to get another third-rounder, which it used on Western Kentucky defensive tackle Brodric Martin. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound Martin provides a big body to improve a run defense that allowed 5.2 yards per carry and 22 rushing touchdowns last season.
The Lions rallied to finish 9-8 last season, and Holmes hopes the draft picks can help push the team into the playoffs.
“We don't want to take a step back,” he said. “We don't want to be stagnant. ... We've got to get to the point as a football team where we can put ourselves in a position where we can get into the postseason and hopefully make some noise.”
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