Adetomiwa Adebawore, DT, Northwestern
With their second pick in the first round, MCDC and his Lions double down on the defensive line. After drafting Tyree Wilson at DE with the 6th pick, the Lions take Adetomiwa Adebawore as an interior defensive lineman who proves stout against the run, but can also get after the quarterback on third down.
At the start of the 2022 regular season, the Eagles found themselves in a shootout with the should-have-been moribund Lions. The game ended up as a microcosm of the Lion’s season. After jettisoning multiple Pro Bowl caliber players over the last few years, this young Lions team was projected to end up winning a measly 6 games, putting them in prime position to pick in the top 10 for the 5th straight year. Instead, the Lions’ offense carried the team to a 9-8 record, narrowly missing the playoffs by way of a tiebreaker and landing them the 18th pick in the draft (they received pick #6 from their trade with the Rams). The offense ranked in the top 5 in both total yards and points and had the fewest turnovers in the league. In theory, an offensive production of that caliber should land you firmly in the playoffs and likely in the conversation of Super Bowl contenders. They certainly felt like offensive contenders in their opening game against the Eagles, where they took Philadelphia’s historic defense for 35 points, the most points scored on the Eagles’ starters in any game that season but the Super Bowl itself.
While athletes like Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts may tempt you to believe the game is all about offense, a defense is still necessary to contend for a title, and that is where the Lions suffered. Despite spending the #3 overall pick in the 2020 draft on a corner and the #2 overall pick in the 2022 draft on a defensive end, the Lions ranked 4th worst in points allowed and dead last in yards allowed in 2022. Despite having the 7th highest blitz rate in the league, they ranked merely 18th in total sacks. The defense allowed the 3rd most passing yards and 4th most rushing yards in the league. Struggling in every defensive aspect of the game, the Lions’ defense hamstrung their potent (albeit unexpectedly so) offense.
This was on full display in the Eagles-Lions game. While the aforementioned offense put on a show in Detroit, the defense allowed Philly to rush for over 200 yards and 4 touchdowns en route to a 38-35 victory over the Lions. And so the season went, with the Lions’ offense dazzling fans with explosive plays and high scoring affairs, only to come up just short time and time again because of their hopeless defense, incapable of stopping even the anemic Panthers’ offense, which scored 37 points on Detroit in late December.
So here the Lions sit with the 18th pick, desperate to find a way to bolster both their run and pass defense. Having already spent this year’s #6 pick and last year’s #2 pick both on defensive ends, there is a school of thought that would encourage a pick at linebacker (Nolan Smith is still available out of Georgia), but like most of us within Bleeding Green Nation, I’ve had my fair share of Howie’s Kool-Aid, and I must say, I quite like it. Detroit likes it too (at least, they do in this mock draft), so they forego investing draft capital in the LB position, and instead continue to build in the trenches, adding to what is now arguably the most menacing young defensive line in the league.
Adetomiwa Adebawore is a DT prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.72 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 46 out of 1585 DT from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/kcBR0aeFSr #RAS pic.twitter.com/KcarEU3j0r— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 7, 2023
Adebawore is an athletic unicorn. He runs a 97th percentile 40 (4.49s) at a whopping 282 pounds, an absolute mammoth for someone so fast. In fact, the closest anyone over 280lbs has come to Adebawore’s 4.49 40 time in the last 20 years was Milton Williams, who only ran a 4.67. Adebawore beats the second fastest player his size by nearly two-tenths of a second! While he is one of the shortest defensive linemen in this year’s class, his arm length is above average, giving him plenty of ability to stave off blocks at the NFL level. He has top 20% strength to go alongside his blazing speed, and he is very agile to boot. His Relative Athletic Score grades him as elite in every category but size.
While his lack of size could prove problematic on other teams, Adebawore will have both Aidan Hutchinson and now Tyree Wilson flanking him at end. This gives Adebawore the distinct advantage of taking on consistent one-on-one assignments, rather than facing double teams where his lack of size would otherwise prove problematic.
This pick is built primarily on the potential, not the tape. That’s not to say Adebawore’s tape isn’t good, but it is evident in watching him play that there is significant untapped potential. He was asked to play all over the defensive front at Northwestern, at times looking uncomfortable changing positions so frequently. As mentioned, with Wilson and Hutchinson locking down the end positions, Adebawore would have the opportunity to focus exclusively on the inside, allowing him to get more comfortable and perfect his craft. Even in the midst of playing multiple positions and constantly being keyed on as the most important defender to double team, Adebawore had 5 sacks, 9 tackles for a loss, and 2 forced fumbles in 12 games in 2022. Importantly, he held his own and looked the part against Ohio State’s stout offensive line, a group likely sending two tackles into the first two rounds of the draft this year.
Adebawore is certainly more of a developmental pick than Tyree Wilson is at #6 for Detroit. That’s a large part of why they’re able to get him here at #18. But given the chance to focus on one position and play alongside Wilson and Hutchinson, there is a real possibility Adebawore will develop into the better of Detroit’s two first-round picks in this years’ draft. His floor may be lower than some would like at #18, but his ceiling is as high as anyone in this year’s class. Given Detroit’s defensive rebuild in the trenches and their sudden offensive prowess, don’t be surprised to see this team on a trajectory similar to Philadelphia’s in the next 2-3 seasons.
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2023 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Panthers (pheebthegoose): QB Bryce Young
2) Texans (Phoenix X Minimus): QB C.J. Stroud
3) Cardinals (alwaysaphillyfan): EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts (eaglenomics): QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks (The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop): DT Jalen Carter
6) Lions (Sam2TheMaximum): DE Tyree Wilson
7) Raiders (joey2arms): OT Paris Johnson Jr.
8) Falcons (Kephas): CB Christian Gonzalez
9) Bears (chewy wellington): OT Peter Skoronski
10) Eagles (Philly21): CB Devon Witherspoon
11) Titans (RachAttack): WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
12) Texans (Domonate): WR Quentin Johnston
13) Jets (JawnJam): OT Broderick Jones
14) Patriots (Amish Eagle Lion): CB Joey Porter Jr.
15) Packers (bdawk4ever): QB Will Levis
16) Commanders (the dog did it): OT Darnell Wright
17) Steelers (Dr.MidnightGreen): CB Deonte Banks
18) Lions (DreadPirateRocco): DT Adetomiwa Adebawore
19) Buccaneers (Neil Dutton)
20) Seahawks (wardbell92)
21) Chargers (Brendanekstrom)
22) Ravens (Rollinpin)
23) Vikings (FierceDisc65)
24) Jaguars (Leo Bedio)
25) Giants (dkays)
26) Cowboys (roberticus01)
27) Bills (EHyungNim)
28) Bengals (mainmanham)
29) Saints (RiverCityEagle)
30) Eagles (ablesser88)
31) Chiefs (Hoosinole)
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2023 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Lions select at No. 18 overall?
This poll is closed
DT Adetomiwa Adebawore
DT Calijah Kancey
DT Brian Bresee
RB Bijan Robinson
TE Michael Mayer
TE Dalton Kincaid
S Brian Branch
QB Will Levis
QB Hendon Hooker
OL O’Cyrus Torrence
1) Panthers: QB C.J. Stroud
2) Texans: QB Bryce Young
3) Cardinals: EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts: QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks: DT Jalen Carter
6) Lions: DE Tyree Wilson
7) Raiders: OT Paris Johnson Jr.
8) Falcons: CB Christian Gonzalez
9) Bears: OT Peter Skoronski
10) Eagles: CB Devon Witherspoon
11) Titans: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
12) Texans: DE Myles Murphy
13) Jets: OT Broderick Jones
14) Patriots: CB Joey Porter Jr.
15) Packers: DE Nolan Smith
16) Commanders: OT Darnell Wright
17) Steelers: CB Deonte Banks