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Although the Detroit Lions had their first winning season in five years, they will pick sixth overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft after acquiring the Rams’ pick as part of the Matthew Stafford trade. They will also have the No. 18 pick, their own.
There are multiple positions at which Detroit could use an upgrade, but interior defensive line might be the most pressing issue that needs to be addressed. As things stand, the Lions have only Alim McNeill, Levi Onwuzurike and Demetrius Taylor under contract.
Onwuzurike, a former second round pick, has been largely unable to stay on the field while dealing with various injuries. He may not even play next season, let alone in a big role.
This all goes to say that Detroit needs an interior defensive lineman— badly.
Of the players at that position in this year’s class, Jalen Carter, Calijah Kancey, Bryan Bresee, Mazi Smith and Siaki Ika are atop the big board. Kancey had an incredible NFL Combine performance, and Carter struggled through the end of his Pro Day.
Even still, Carter is widely considered the top defensive tackle in April’s draft. He was long considered the No. 1 pick, until a myriad of off-field issues came into the picture, including some concerns about his character.
Standing out most prominently, though, was Carter’s role in a fatal car wreck in Athens not long after Georgia won its second-straight national title. Questions surrounding the incident remain even though he recently pled no contest and will avoid jail time.
Putting all of that aside, Jalen Carter has proven to be a dominant force on the line. He has a large amount of potential on the next level and likely won’t slip out of the top 10.
Could the Detroit Lions draft Jalen Carter at No. 6?
Only if he’s still there. Jalen Carter may not fall that far.
As for whether Dan Campbell and the Lions have interest in Carter, the 46-year-old head coach would not say. He gave a cryptic comment on the Georgia star at the NFL spring meetings.
We talked to a teammate of his the other day and, man, he told us some things we didn’t know. That nobody probably would’ve known. It was like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’— Dan Campbell
When asked to expand on whether the information was good or bad, Campbell would not say.
It’s interesting.— Dan Campbell
Hmmmm…. now what could Campbell’s comments mean?
Are the Lions going to avoid Carter like the plague? Did his teammate throw him under the bus and bash his character? Probably not.
In that is not the case, is it the opposite?
Did Carter’s teammate have nothing but incredible things to say about him? Are the Lions hoping that he will slip to No. 6 so that they can snag him? Is this a smoke screen to throw other teams off of the scent?
There is only one way to find out— wait. Detroit will pick sixth on April 27, 2023. If Jalen Carter’s name is called, it will provide the answer that we all desperately want to know.