Ranking Brad Holmes' Best Detroit Lions Draft Picks (2024)

The Detroit Lions are nearing the fourth Draft of the Brad Holmes era.

Since Holmes took over in 2021, he has quickly established himself as one of the league's best drafters. He's made 22 picks in total over his first three drafts, and 21 of the players remain on the team's roster.

With his first rookie class becoming eligible for extensions in 2024, a number of his homegrown talents could earn big pay days.

With the 2024 NFL Draft three weeks away, here's a look at the top-10 picks of Holmes' first three drafts.

10.) LB Derrick Barnes

Barnes has shown plenty of growth over his three NFL seasons. When Detroit drafted Jack Campbell in the first round of last year's Draft, it was believed that Barnes would be on the bottom end of the depth chart.

After all, the Lions were bringing back Malcolm Rodriguez who started 15 games the year prior. However, Barnes competed his way into the starting lineup and wound up being a massive part of the defense last year.

He also delivered one of the biggest moments in franchise history when he picked off a Baker Mayfield pass to send Detroit to the NFC Championship game. Heading into a contract year, Barnes has the opportunity to show that last season was no fluke.

9.) S Ifeatu Melifonwu

Melifonwu had been limited by injuries for much of his first three seasons. However, when he finally got a consistent opportunity at the end of last season, he showed that he can be a difference-maker for Aaron Glenn's defense.

He recorded two interceptions, including one that clinched the team's division title against Minnesota, and three sacks late in the year. Melifonwu also notched another two sacks in the postseason.

The Syracuse product played well enough for the team to not feel the need to retain Ceedy Duce, and he should be in for a bigger role next season in what will be the final year of his rookie contract.

8.) CB/S Brian Branch

Despite concerns regarding where Branch would fit at the next level and his testing at the Combine, Holmes elected to move up and land him in the second round of the 2023 Draft. That move paid off in a big way.

Branch was expected to compete for playing time in his first season, and he exceeded that expectation by earning the starting nickel job in the season opener. He recorded a game-changing pick-six in that game, setting the tone for a solid rookie season.

The rookie had three interceptions last season and appears primed to be a solid piece for the defense moving forward.

7.) S Kerby Joseph

Similar to Branch, Joseph was expected to be a depth piece early in his rookie season. However, Tracy Walker's Achilles injury changed his trajectory and made him a starter. Though his defensive effort was ultimately inconsistent, he quickly established himself as a takeaway artist.

Joseph has logged four interceptions in each of his first two seasons, making him a huge impact player. He is also a physical player in the secondary and doesn't shy away from delivering big hits.

6.) DT Alim McNeill

Drafted in the third round of the 2021 Draft, McNeill has bounced around different roles. He experienced a breakthrough in 2023, thanks in part to a change in diet and routine that allowed him to be a bigger part of the defense.

Before suffering a knee injury, McNeill was playing at a Pro Bowl level. Now, he'll get a chance to maximize his talents even more with the addition of DJ Reader. With Reader occupying the nose tackle position, McNeill can play more as the three- or five-technique and become an even tougher matchup for opposing blockers.

5.) RB Jahmyr Gibbs

Many were shocked at the Lions' decision to pick a running back with the 12th overall pick last year. However, the choice was ultimately delivered upon as Gibbs finished with over 1,000 all-purpose yards last season.

Gibbs proved to be every bit as dynamic as he was billed to be coming out of Alabama, and the Lions found unique ways to use him. Though it wasn't the wisest use of a pick by positional value standards, Detroit ultimately obtained an offensive weapon at a premium spot in the NFL Draft.

4.) TE Sam LaPorta

Though Gibbs was an excellent addition, the best newcomer on Detroit's offense last season was LaPorta. A do-it-all player for a struggling Iowa offense in college, LaPorta was an excellent successor to the talented tight end T.J. Hockenson.

The Lions utilized LaPorta in a number of ways last season. He wasn't viewed as the top player at his position ahead of the Draft, and consensus top tight end Michael Mayer was still available when the Lions picked LaPorta.

Yet, the Iowa product proved to be the best rookie tight end and set the league record for receptions by a rookie at his position. He also proved to be ahead of the curve in terms of run blocking for a first-year player and should be an integral piece for Ben Johnson's offense in 2024.

3.) EDGE Aidan Hutchinson

Among all the defensive additions Holmes has landed in his three years, Hutchinson seems to be the biggest foundational piece. He has legitimate ability as a pass-rusher and teams have already begun to take notice through his first two NFL seasons.

Hutchinson demanded extra attention from opponents in his second NFL season as he wound up leading the league in pressures per Pro Football Focus. His sack totals have not been on par with the league's elite, but he has shown the skill to continue developing his game and finished 2023 on a high note.

2.) OT Penei Sewell

Sewell was Holmes' first pick as GM of the Lions and has lived up to his billing. Anchoring the offensive line as the right tackle, he has been a huge part of the team's success. On 757 pass blocking snaps last season, he allowed just 25 pressures and one sack.

The Oregon product earned All-Pro honors in 2023 for the first time and seems destined for a hefty extension at the conclusion of his rookie contract. Eventually, the talented player could move to the left side and be a true foundational player.

1.) WR Amon-Ra St. Brown

Just edging out Sewell for the top spot on this list is St. Brown, who has been the ultimate Draft steal through Holmes' first three seasons. Drafted in the fourth round, St. Brown has quickly ascended to an elite level of production.

With over 3,500 yards and 2023 All-Pro honors to his name, the USC product is on the path to stardom. He'll command a hefty extension, which may be close on the horizon. St. Brown has been superb in the slot for the Lions and is a key to the team's success.

Ranking Brad Holmes' Best Detroit Lions Draft Picks (2024)
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