With only six picks to throw around the Detroit Lions must attack their biggest needs early in the 2014 NFL draft. How do they fair?
Round 1 – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
It’s looking more and more likely that Sammy Watkins is not making it to #10, which means the Lions should instead look to upgrade the cornerback position, which frankly needs it more. Their best option is MichiganState star Darqueze Dennard. While slightly less of a physical specimen than other first round options, the “No Fly Zone” separates himself by playing stout press coverage and using a remarkable intellect and work ethic to consistently handle receivers.
Round 2 – Brandin Cooks – WR – Oregon State
Yes, he is not Watkins but in many ways Brandin Cooks is the perfect compliment to Calvin Johns Detroit has sought for so long. In leading the nation in receiving yards, the OregonState standout displayed an excellent combination of speed, acceleration and route running savvy that allowed him to beat every sort of coverage under the sun. He’s also deceptively tough with a strong enough lower frame to break tackles.
Round 3 – Jimmie Ward – SS – Northern Illinois
Surprisingly it may not be star quarterback Jordan Lynch but strong safety Jimmie Ward who has the best pro career of the 2014 Northern Illinois class. Indeed the young defensive back has built a lot of momentum during the pre-draft process. He has good size, can tackle, deliver a good hit but retains the range necessary to make plays in coverage.
Round 4 – Christian Kirksey – OLB – Iowa
The linebacker position is not terrible but it could use some attention on the outside, especially in terms of athleticism and coverage ability. Christian Kirksey brings plenty of that from Iowa. He has plenty of range to track down ball carriers but really does his damage when he’s back in coverage or called to rush the passer. A solid all-around player.
Round 6 – Joe Don Duncan – TE – Dixie State
The late rounds are about taking chances on upside players. With Brandon Pettigrew becoming a free agent the Detroit Lions should consider adding to the tight end position. The name Joe Don Duncan didn’t surface until recently due to the youngster coming out of small DixieState. That being said his solid frame at 6’4″, 270 lbs coupled with several flashes of pass catching potential on film make him worth a sixth round pick.
Round 7 – Andre Hal – CB – Vanderbilt
Inconsistency has been a problem for Vanderbilt cornerback Andre Hal, which is why he falls to the seventh round. That being said, the young man has played some of his best games against the best competition including Mike Evans of Texas A&M and Donte Moncrief of Ole Miss. Given the size of the receivers in the NFC North, this is a smart pickup so late for the Detroit Lions.