The Detroit Lions move away from the Matt Millen era has been a blessing for the Lions and all N.F.L. fans especially on Thanksgiving, soon to be one of many prime-time games the Lions play in during the season. The Lions haven’t arrived yet, but by acting aggressively in the N.F.L. draft and deploying a best player available philosophy the Lions are on the cusp of being a team that perennially competes for a playoff spot.
Let’s take a look at the Lions needs.
I think it’d be fair to say as far as needs go Linebacker is the #1 need for the Detroit Lions, by releasing Julian Peterson the Lions have left themselves remarkably barren at the linebacker position, Zach Follet serious injury suffered against the New York Giants is also cause of concern. The Detroit Lions have shown they will stick to their board (the right thing to do in the draft), but if a linebacker falls to them somewhere and provides good value they’ll pull the trigger.
I would list safety here as well if they didn’t draft Amari Spivey last year so I’ll give him a chance to develop before writing him off, but I’ll just say this they were starting C.C. Brown for some games at safety so that should tell you all need to know about their safety.
Offensive Line Depth-Starters
I don’t believe that Jeff Backus is really a franchise LT, but the Lions seem to think that he is, so I’m not sure the Lions see LT as a big need. In any case they could use more depth along the offensive line and also look to upgrade at Right Tackle, unless they believe Jason Fox, drafted last season will become that player. I think there focus is more likely to be in the middle than anything else.
FYI according to footballoutsiders.com The Lions were a respectable 8th best in the league running at the Left End ally, but a terrible 29th running in the middle and guard lanes. Yikes.
Defensive Line Depth
Kyle Vanden Bosch is getting older and the Lions could use some more help at defensive tackle. They have good defensive ends but I would not be surprised if they can’t resist drafting a very good player there (maybe like Cameron Jordan) if available to them at 13th overall.
They Lions have one very talented Wide Receiver in Megatron and one talented Running back in Jahvid Best, but they could use some complementary players at this position if they want to be as well rounded at the position as the Packers. The Running backs are all OK after Best, but a player Mark Ingram would look great on their team (if they could trade down pick up an extra pick and still get him). This is not a desperate need, but they should explore options here as well.
From the second round on I used CBSDraft Scout to create an impartial Big Board Value of players who could potentially be available.
The other thing Lions fans could clear up for me is…what picks do the Lions have?
There seem to be some serious confusion about this:
I know they have a pick in each of the 1-5 rounds, but no seventh round pick because of the Houston and Jackson trades (conditional loss of the 7th round pick) and then they lost the 7th round pick because of Tampering, right?
So now it’s only 1-5? Is that right? Conflicting information all over the place.
1st Round pick 13-Brandon Harris, CB, The U
In my scouting report of Harris I compared him to a college Darrelle Revis. That’s not saying he will become a Darrelle Revis player, but Harris as game speed you can’t teach and the most fluid hips of any of the cornerbacks in this draft class. He is a little under-sized and best suited as a man cornerback, but his upside to me is enormous and he’s a top ten player in this draft to me. personally I don’t know if all N.F.L. teams will feel that way, but I like him a lot. I really had trouble with this first round pick, I think Tyron Smith will be intriguing, but off the board. Nate Solder is a possibility and Julio Jones too, but I’m not sure who will be available.
Jimmy Smith has reportedly come off terrible in interviews and on top of that has been skipping private workouts and just not making the best decisions (reportedly), which is why I shied away from him. Ayers is a nice player, but he ran a terrible 40 yard dash and while he plays faster than he times he isn’t a punishing run defender to boot, which could make the Lions shy away from him at 13th overall. And I also think they’ll pass on Nate Solder.
Robert Quinn, Cameron Jordan, Julio Jones, Tyron Smith, and Prince Amukamara all makes sense to me if available here, which the I’m projecting they won’t be.
J.J. Watt doesn’t have the same versatility to me as does Cameron Jordan and think Watt is a bit out of position as a 4-3 DE unless he’s primarily a run stuffer, which is hard to justify 13th overall, to me, but i know others disagree with me about Watt.
Tough pick knowing the Lions will probably go B.P.A. because you have to have a feel for what the Lions board will be.
Lions may really consider trading down, but I’m not predicting trades so in the end Brandon Harris > than J.J. Watt or Akeem Ayers.
Round 2 44th pick overall Stefen Wisniewski, C/G (54th on big board of CBS Draft Scout)
A myriad of the players I was considering here could be gone at this point like Corey Liuget, so I went with a player I think has a fair chance of being available at 44th overall. Wisnewski would instantly provide depth or could start at three positions along the offensive line. He also has no character concerns is a fundamentally solid player here and would be good value here at 44th overall. I recognize that the Lions need a linebacker, but the most likely available options here are Mason Foster or Bruce Carter and I think they can get better value a little later.
Round 3 75th overall Mark Herzlich** LB, Boston College (80 on big board)
**Reliant on him acing a physical the Lions could give him. Herzlich is the most instincdtual linebacker in this draft and one of the most productive as well. He is not the most physically dominating player in the world, but he’ll remind the Lions a lot of Kyle Vanden Bosch with his hustle and understanding of the game of football. Herzlich had 10 interceptions the past two seasons in college due to his superior instincts and because he’s always around the football. Two years removed from Bone Cancer I think he can get back to his two years ago form.
**If Herzlich doesn’t check out medically I like Shane Vereen, Will Rackley, or Dontay Moch here.
Round 4 106th pick overall Jeremey Beal-DE/OLB Oklahoma (108th Big Board)
At one point Beal was getting mocked into the late first round a lot, but his stock seems to be plummeting, but could really be a steal in the 4th round. He’s got enough size to add a few more pounds and be a developmental player at 4-3 and situational pass rusher immediately, but also has enough ability to play the same position at linebacker as well, most likely the S.A.M. The Lions could love his work ethic, leadership, and overall great production in college enough to make him the pick if he’s still available in round 4.
Round 5 pick 148th overall Jeremey Kerley, WR TCU (150th)
Kerley is a good WR who could be an excellent slot WR and return man and maybe even eventually develop into a good #2 though he lacks great strength. I was looking at possible Offensive tackles here maybe a Lee Ziemba, a punishing running back Roy Helu, or a CB/S/Special teams player like Marcus Gilchrist.
I still have a feeling that the Lions will address the interior of their OL more so then there outside as they let Fox continue to and ride Backus a little longer.
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Let me know what you think.
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