Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell celebrates a touchdown with wide receiver Amon-Ra St Brown in the NFC Championship in Santa Clara, California against the San Francisco 49ers.

Brad Holmes and the Five Times He Traded Up

Unlike all those years when the Detroit Lions had picks towards the top of the draft, it will be hard to know who might be available and who the Lions might draft with the 29th pick.  I’ll polish up the crystal ball and take a look at some options in a future article.  One thing you can be sure of, Brad Holmes won’t be drafting for a position, he’ll have his eyes on a certain player and move up to get him if he needs to.  During Holmes’ first three drafts, he’s made a total of eight trades, moving up five times to get his man.  He’s felt comfortable his man would still be on the board the times he’s traded down to acquire extra picks.  Let’s take a look at the deals he’s made to get the player he targeted.

Brad Holmes and the Five Times He Traded Up

#1 – Derrick Barnes

In Holmes’ first draft, in 2021, the first time he’s ever called the shots, he traded up 23 spots to select linebacker Derrick Barnes. Barnes had a couple dismal season to start his career and had a decent year in 2023. He’s the definition of the expression that it takes three years to judge a draft. He made a horrible play during the narrow loss to the Dallas Cowboys, whiffing on quarterback Dak Prescott on what should have been a sure fire safety and ended up being a 92-yard Dallas touchdown. Barnes intercepted Baker Mayfield on the Buccaneers final drive to send the Lions to the NFC Championship. Barnes had a up and down year, but he’s trending in the right direction.

#2 – Jameson Williams

In 2022, Holmes showed just how important getting his man was, trading up 20 spots to draft wide receiver Jameson Williams. Williams, coming of ACL surgery wasn’t expected to contribute much in 2022, and he didn’t. Many figured it would be a “redshirt year” for the speedy wide receiver, and that’s basically what it was. Williams had his first practice on November 21, 2022 and got a chance to get his feet wet in the NFL. Hopes were high coming into 2023, but training camp injuries set him back and then he served one of the silliest gambling suspensions there is. A six game suspension was reduced to four, but it was another setback. While Williams stats pale in comparison to where he was drafted, but he hustles and has shown glimpses of the dynamic playmaker the Lions hoped for when he was drafted. His hustle and desire were on display with a great downfield block on a David Montgomery 75 yard TD run. He looked like he was shot out of a cannon on a 19-yard touchdown run in New Orleans. He was everything the Lions hoped for in the NFC Championship game with an electrifying 42-yard run to open the scoring and a nice grab for a three yard touchdown.  Look for a big year from Williams in 2024. Don’t expect a lot of catches, that was never the plan. Do expect a bunch of big plays and for his blazing speed to open things up underneath.

#3 – Brian Branch

This might prove to be Holmes’ best move as the Lions general manager. In last year’s draft, he traded up three spots to No.45 with the Packers to draft defensive back Brian Branch from Alabama. Branch was all that and a bag of chips in 2023. He had a fantastic rookie year and play an important role in the future. The rookie finished in 12th place among cornerbacks and as the 84th best player overall in Pro Football Focus’ (PFF) final rankings. It’s rare to see a rookie look so comfortable in the defensive backfield.  He mainly played the nickel corner and his role will certainly expand in the years to come. In his third game as a pro, he became the first defensive back since 1994 to record over ten tackles (he had 11), three tackles for loss and two pass deflections. His game worn jersey from the season opening win in Kansas City, MO., is on display at the Hall of Fame.

#4 – Brodric Martin

Holmes made another trade in the 2023 draft, moving up 26 spots to No. 96  to draft defensive tackle Brodric Martin from Western Kentucky. Selecting him at No. 96 was considered one of the biggest reaches in the draft. He’s huge at 6′ 5″ and 330 pounds, but his RAS of 2.14 was awful. Maybe there were some extenuating circumstances when he was tested. No doubt Martin was, and still is a project. He didn’t do much in 2023 and hopefully he’ll show signs he belongs in 2024. He’ll have a great mentor in newly acquired D.J. Reader. You could imagine that Holmes figured Martin, while raw, would still have been a contributor in 2023. You don’t trade up that far to draft a project and you’d like to see something out of a third round draft choice.

#5 – Antoine Green

Once again in 2021 Holmes traded up to get the player he targeted. This time it was 30 spots in the seventh round to draft WR Antoine Green from North Carolina. Green has good size at 6’2″ and 199 pounds, has quickness, spread and has potential as a deep threat.  He led the Lions in receiving during the preseason, which doesn’t mean much. He did make the opening day roster, and like just about all late round picks, not much should be expected during the beginning of their careers.

Main Image: © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

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