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Dan Campbell Reacts to Lions' 2023 Draft, Roster Changes

Highlights of Dan Campbell's appearance on the "Green Light" podcast.

With the NFL Draft in the books, the Detroit Lions are getting set to observe their 2023 rookie class on the field for the first time. 

Rookie minicamp runs May 12-14, providing Detroit head coach Dan Campbell an opportunity to see the team's picks in action at the team's Allen Park practice facility. 

Campbell appeared on "Green Light with Chris Long," and discussed what made several of the picks intriguing to him. 

New quarterback dynamic

After committing to Jared Goff as the starter heading into this upcoming season, the Lions were adamant about finding a quality backup. 

Ultimately, Campbell and Detroit general manager Brad Holmes decided to select Hendon Hooker in the third round of this year's draft.

The Tennessee product is an intriguing selection for multiple reasons. He's coming off a torn ACL suffered in December, so his availability will be limited throughout the offseason. 

Additionally, he is already 25 years old. Despite his age and recent injury, the Lions found his skillset appealing. 

"We did go into this offseason saying that we wanted to bring in some competition at quarterback," Campbell explained. "We didn't know exactly where that might be, who that would be at the time. But, we did like Hooker. We knew he was coming off the injury, but there was something about him that was appealing. He's very mature. He looks the part. He's got a big arm. He's got to learn how to play in the NFL. But, he's a pro now. And, I like the fact that he was older. We all kind of liked the fact he was older. They got a lot on their plate. But, to that point, to be able to get him where we did, you know, we traded back twice, and we were still able to acquire him. We felt like that was everything played out just the right way for us."

The coach also praised the way Goff has handled the team adding a rookie signal-caller. He noted that the veteran is embracing the possibility of mentoring the young passer. 

"Goff is going to handle it well. I mean, he knew, Brad called him and he's great," Campbell said. "And, he'll help this guy just learn and grow. And really, this is a redshirt year for him. He's got to get his leg right first and then he'll learn. He'll learn under Jared, you know, and then let's see what happens, you know, if he can eventually become your two or maybe down the road later on. It's more than that. But, that's, it's going to be a long time."

New-look running backs 

The Lions entered the offseason with Jamaal Williams and D'Andre Swift as the starters. Both are now gone, with Williams having left in free agency and Swift having been traded away.

Detroit has retooled the position since. David Montgomery was signed to a three-year deal, and Jahmyr Gibbs was picked No. 12 overall in the draft. 

In the rookie, the Lions see a very explosive, dynamic running back who has the capability to do more within the offense. 

"We really liked Gibbs early in the process," said Campbell. "You know, he really stood out to us and when we saw him, we thought of him, you know, it wasn't running back that we saw. We saw weaponry. And, you know, he reminded me a lot of (Alvin Kamara). Certainly, you know, when I was at the Giants, we had played with Tiki Barber, you know, in this kind of mold of these backs that can do more than just carry the ball, you know. And so, that's how we thought of him."

Secondary upgrades

The Lions added a trio of veterans to their secondary, including C.J. Gardner-Johnson at the nickel cornerback position. 

However, that didn't stop the organization from selecting versatile defensive back Brian Branch, out of Alabama, in the second round. 

With the Crimson Tide, the rookie established himself as one of the best tacklers in college football. He rarely missed his tackle attempts, and displayed good awareness in coverage.

"To be able to obtain Branch, man, he's a heck of a player," he said. "I mean, this is one of the best-tackling DBs. I would argue he was the best one this year, but he's one of the best I've seen in a long time. I mean, when he gets his hands on offensive players, receivers, backs, they're going to the ground. He's as sure a tackler as you're going to find. He's a ball-hawk. He's got a nose for the football. So, yeah, he's wired the right way. We were fired up to be able to acquire him. We thought he would have been gone by then. But, it was too good to pass up. We had to go get him."