Ranking Lions' 2024 Second-Year Players

Which Detroit Lion is poised for best second season?
Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs runs against the Cowboys during the second half of the Lions' 20-19 loss at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023.
Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs runs against the Cowboys during the second half of the Lions' 20-19 loss at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023. / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK
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The Detroit Lions' 2023 Draft class has the potential to be an extremely solid haul.

Each of their first four picks a year ago played starting roles, all performing at a high level at points within the season. There was elite production from their rookies on offense, while the defenders showed flashes of greatness.

As a result, the crop of second-year players could be key in the Lions' pursuit of a Super Bowl championship in 2024. The group compiled by Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell has elite potential.

Here is a ranking of the Lions' nine rookies from last season based on their potential impact on the team's success in 2024.

9. CB Steven Gilmore

Gilmore faces a battle to make the roster in his second NFL season. He did so last year and was a contributor on special teams, but the cornerback room has gotten much deeper and he will have to work to keep his spot.

The UDFA from Marshall showed promise with two interceptions in the preseason last year as well as showing some return ability leading up to the regular season. He's a versatile talent, but roster spots are limited and he doesn't have the proven track record to guarantee himself a spot on the 2024 Lions.

8. OL Colby Sorsdal

Sorsdal was up-and-down in his opportunities last year. He played well in his first start, a win over the Raiders. However, the Lions elected to go with Kayode Awosika with Jonah Jackson out for the NFC Championship game.

The Lions added Kevin Zeitler to the mix as well as rookies Gio Manu and Christian Mahogany this offseason, so Sorsdal will have competition to crack the roster. He should fight for a depth role, where his opposition will likely be Awosika and Dan Skipper.

7. QB Hendon Hooker

With the Lions locking up Jared Goff for the long-term future, Hooker's duty for the immediate future is to beat out Nate Sudfeld for the backup spot. He has the talent to do so, and will be fully healthy for the first time in a Lions uniform.

The preseason should offer a revealing look at what the Lions have in the young passer, as he was unable to participate last year. With Campbell's track record of not playing his starters in the exhibition contests leading up to the regular season, Hooker should get plenty of game action.

While he's low on this list currently, his value will skyrocket if Jared Goff has to miss time at any point this year. He could be called upon to win a game for Detroit at some point this year, and with injuries often playing a role in a team's success he will have to play at a high level if called upon in the regular season.

6. WR Antoine Green

Green is entering his second NFL campaign in an interesting spot. The Lions seem confident in what they have on the roster, which includes him, as they did not make a blockbuster move at the position this offseason.

As a result, Green should get more opportunities than the one catch he mustered last year. Like others, he will still have to compete to make the roster as undrafted free agent Isaiah Williams garners plenty of buzz.

Still, Green offers size that the Lions don't have much of at the position and had good moments last preseason. He could surprise many this upcoming season.

5. DT Brodric Martin

Martin is expected to be more of a contributor for the Lions in 2024, as he played in just three games last year. The Lions clearly like his potential, as they moved several picks to trade up and acquire him in last year's Draft.

Though he wound up doing little last season, the organization has a developmental plan for him moving forward. As a result, he could wind up being a helpful piece for Detroit's defense down the stretch this upcoming year.

Detroit addressed the nose tackle role by signing DJ Reader, so Martin will likely be a rotational player. Still, there's room for him to carve out a role and compete for reps this season.

4. LB Jack Campbell

Though Campbell wasn't a starter right away, he ended up playing a pivotal role for the defense down the stretch last season. He played some SAM linebacker last year but played most of his snaps late in the year in the middle of Detroit's defense.

If he can develop into the MIKE and allow Alex Anzalone to play his natural position of WILL, it would make Detroit's defense quite sturdy. Campbell was an exciting talent coming out of Iowa, and appeared to process the game much quicker late in the year.

Though Campbell isn't the most heralded prospect of Detroit's 2023 class, he still has exciting potential and can make a difference for the defense with a strong second campaign.

3. DB Brian Branch

Branch was photographed during Draft week moving around on a scooter, so time will tell what his availability will look like for the remainder of the offseason as well as into the regular season.

Things are setting up for Branch to have a big second year, though, as he can be the key for Detroit's secondary. With his ability to play multiple positions, Detroit's new-look secondary can be adapted and changed based on his capabilities.

Branch has a high ceiling. With his ability to play either corner, nickel or safety, the Lions can utilize him however they best see fit.

2. TE Sam LaPorta

LaPorta showed last season that he is capable of becoming one of the best players at his position in the entire league. He set the record for most catches by a rookie tight end and came within striking distance of the record for yards by a rookie tight end.

The Iowa product proved to be a durable target for Jared Goff throughout last season and was dominant at points. With his ability to control the middle of the field, he rarely had trouble getting open.

An underrated aspect of his game was his blocking, as he proved to be ahead of the curve in that area for the Lions last season. That adds to his value within Ben Johnson's offense.

1. RB Jahmyr Gibbs

Gibbs is primed to breakout in 2024. Though surpassing 1,000 yards from scrimmage last season wouldn't qualify a strong second campaign as a true breakout, he's primed for a bigger role in 2024.

The Lions could use Gibbs more as a receiver this season, something he did some but not a lot of a year ago. He has all the desired capabilities required to contribute in this area, as his route-running is swift and his hands are strong.

If the Lions elect not to do this, Gibbs could surpass David Montgomery's totals in carries. The Alabama product is the younger of the two, and the Lions are saving valuable miles on his tires by splitting his carries with Montgomery. However, Gibbs proved to be too electric at points to take off the field.

Christian Booher


Sports journalist who has covered the Detroit Lions the past three NFL seasons. Christian brings expert analysis, insights and an ability to fairly assess how the team is performing in a tough NFC North division.