Allen Park — There’s a new offseason feel in Detroit.
The overall picture is bright. Even recent history is quite optimistic. But if there’s one big difference between this offseason and the last two, it’s draft capital. As the Lions try to maintain their claim as a Super Bowl contender, their ability to hit home runs in the 2024 NFL Draft will be a big help.
Compared to drafts of the past, Lions general manager Brad Holmes is working with less and picking later. The Lions made six picks in the first three rounds last year. Their first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, which will be held in Detroit, is No. 29.
Holmes welcomed the challenge Monday at his end-of-season news conference at the team’s Allen Park facility.
“It’s going to be the exact same process,” Holmes said. “It’s going to be exactly the same plan. We are going to be very strategic, very selective. We are going to look for the same type of players…
“We’ll come back to it later; that’s actually exciting to me.”
All 23 players selected by Holmes in his first three drafts are still with the team.
Holmes selected two Pro Bowlers with his first four picks in 2023, taking Pro-Bowl running back Jahmyr Gibbs at No. 12 overall and tight end Sam LaPorta, a first-team All-Pro in his junior season. rookie, with the 34th pick. . He initially had the sixth and 18th picks, but eventually took four picks with the 45th pick, where the Lions landed standout defensive back Brian Branch.
In each of the last two drafts, Holmes had an extra first-round pick to work with from the Matthew Stafford trade. The Lions made six picks in the first three rounds last year.
The additional capital has allowed Holmes some flexibility. He was able to trade in 2022 for Jameson Williams and trade in 2023 to grab Gibbs while also adding the pick to take LaPorta.
But this year’s draft won’t be uncharted territory. Holmes was working with a similar stockpile of ammunition in 2021, when the NFL Scouting Combine was canceled before his first draft as Lions general manager and he still selected two All-Pros.
“The other reason I loved that draft is that there was no combine. You had to know the movie and cast the right actors or not, and know the player and have the right intangibles.”
A strong conviction has accompanied each of his choices as general manager of the Lions. Holmes was heavily criticized following his 2023 draft class, which now has a case to be his strongest class, for ignoring positional value. He said they will stick to his philosophy of recruiting “football players.”
“We always pick football players, but when we pick high-level players, (the media) criticizes us,” Holmes said. “But we will continue to choose football players and the guys who are for us. So, really, (that) doesn’t change.
“Will it be different? Yes, it will be different… we will just continue to stick to our plan and continue as normal. I think it has been proven that it has worked for us so far.”