Lions Sign First-Round LB Jack Campbell

The second of the Lions’ two first-round picks is now under contract. The team announced Jack Campbell signed his rookie deal Tuesday.

While the Lions still have some work to do to finish their draft class deals, Campbell is now attached to his four-year rookie pact that will run through 2026. Three years from now, the Lions will have the opportunity to extend the Iowa-developed linebacker’s deal through 2027 via the fifth-year option.

One of this year’s most surprising first-round picks, Campbell went to Detroit at No. 18 despite ranking 49th on Daniel Jeremiah’s big board and 57th on Scouts Inc.’s pre-draft board. GM Brad Holmes addressed the disparities between their first-rounders’ draft slots, with Jahmyr Gibbs going off the board at No. 12, and media assessments. While Holmes said he probably could have traded down and acquired Campbell later in Round 1, he did not want to take the chance.

The Lions, who contemplated taking Gibbs at No. 6 before the Cardinals called about a trade, made Campbell the highest off-ball linebacker chosen this year. Eschewing positional value with their first-round choices, the Lions will bank on Gibbs and Campbell being mainstays for years. The Lions missed on the last first-round linebacker they took — Jarrad Davis in 2017 — but they showed conviction with their unexpected Campbell pick.

The 6-foot-4 ‘backer won the Butkus award, given to the top Division I-FBS linebacker, last year. An All-American in 2022, Campbell earned first-team All-Big Ten acclaim in 2021 as well. Campbell totaled an astonishing 265 tackles between his junior and senior seasons, combining for four interceptions in that span as well. Jeremiah lauded Campbell’s run defense and tackling but tabbed him as needing some work in coverage, but the Lions will need him to step in quickly.

After a woeful defensive performance last season, the Lions have made several investments to bolster the unit this offseason. Campbell represents the top move at linebacker, though the team did re-sign Alex Anzalone. Detroit added several pieces — Cameron Sutton, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Emmanuel Moseley, second-round pick Brian Branch — to upgrade its secondary as well.

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