Lions GM Brad Holmes doesn’t feel ‘any more or less pressure’ with late first-round pick

In the 2022 NFL Draft, after taking Aidan Hutchinson second overall, they traded up for wide receiver Jameson Williams at No. 12. Last year, they moved back six spots to No. 12, making Jahmyr Gibbs and Jack Campbell their first-round selections, to the consternation of draft-value absolutists across the NFL universe.

So far, the Lions’ strategy has paid off. They enter this draft with a far more complete roster but also one with a few clear needs, including cornerback — and the top few players at that position are unlikely to be available where they’re picking. Could we see the Lions take the aggressive route again in spite of sitting 29th in Round 1?

“First of all, it’s got to be the right guy,” Holmes said. “You guys (have) seen us, how we’ve operated in the past. If it’s the player that we want, we’re going to go and get him. But there (are) a lot of boxes that need to be checked.

“I think we kind of said a little bit at the end of the season, everybody can’t play here so it’s got to be identified. That player has to be identified. ‘OK, he’s checked all those boxes. He’s the right pick and he’s the right fit.’ And also it’s just, how high are you talking? Is it way high? Is it just a few spots?”

Moving back is also on the table. Perhaps the end of Round 1 is a natural landing spot for a QB-needy team looking to move up. The Lions lack a fourth-round pick and don’t have their typical lots of picks since Holmes has arrived, so there’s some logic in adding more selections.

But with that comes a caveat: Detroit is hosting the 2024 NFL Draft, and it’s hard to imagine the local fans won’t be pretty lathered up for the event, especially coming off a dream season that saw the Lions in the 2023 NFC Championship Game, playing for their first Super Bowl appearance.

Is Holmes prepared to disappoint the fans Thursday night if the Lions don’t end up making a pick? He laughed before reinforcing his big-picture draft philosophy.

“We have to do the right thing for the organization,” he said. “And if it makes sense and it lines up and it’s the right thing to do, then we have to do the right thing. And so, say that happens where the fans have been waiting there all night for this pick, and we get an offer that we really can’t turn down, it makes sense.

“We’ve got to do the right thing and hopefully our fans will forgive us.”

With all the goodwill Holmes, Dan Campbell and the Lions have built up, it would be hard to imagine Lions fans staying too upset for too long. They’ve earned fans’ trust until further notice.

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