The Detroit Lions established themselves as one the best teams in the NFL this year, falling just a half short of making it to the Super Bowl. Now that the season is over though the task is to find the missing pieces that will get them over the hump in 2025. One area, Detroit will focus heavily on this offseason is their defense which gave up almost 24 points a game which ranked 25th in the NFL.
Lions look to add difference-makers on defense in 2024 NFL Draft
Going into the 2024 NFL Draft the Lions have four picks within the top 100 selections. Having this much draft capital should allow them to add several difference-makers to their defense. Their three day three picks should also allow them to add depth on the offensive side of the ball.
There is no doubt that the Lions' top offseason need is cornerback. The Lions gave up 311 passing yards per game in the playoffs, the second-highest in the NFL. They also gave up 12 yards per completion in the regular season which was the worst in the NFL. Another reason for this position being a top need is that the team could lose Kindel Vildor and Emmanuel Moseley in free agency.
The Detroit Lions love taking players from Iowa having used two of their top three picks on Hawkeye’s in the 2023 NFL Draft and they go back to Iowa City with their first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Cooper DeJean is a playmaker with the ball in his hands having returned three interceptions for touchdowns in 2022 and should have had two punt returns brought back for touchdowns this year.
The Lions have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL only giving up a sack on five percent of their pass attempts which was the fourth-best number in the NFL. They also created plenty of running lanes averaging 4.6 yards per carry which ranked fifth in the NFL. However, the team could lose three of its top offensive guards as all three are soon to be free agents.
Kansas State’s Cooper Beebe is the prototypical Dan Campbell player. Beebe is a tough offensive lineman who plays with a mean streak on the field, yet has outstanding character off the field. He is also a technically sound player who should be able to start on day one for the Lions.
"Oh, absolutely not. For me being a captain and being a leader, especially with us being down a lot of players and this being my last game, I felt like if I’m going to start something I’m going to finish it. As a leader, I’m going to send this team off right and I’m going to play in the bowl game."- Cooper Beebe on not skipping bowl game
The Detroit Lions found a gem in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft when they took North Carolina State defensive tackle Alim McNeill. However, the Lions have very little else on the defensive line besides him so look for Detroit to add at least one defensive lineman in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Detroit hopes they find great value again at the defensive tackle position in the third round when they take McKinnley Jackson in the 2024 NFL Draft. Jackson is a big run-stuffing defensive tackle who could either provide depth behind McNeill at nose tackle or play defensive tackle for the Lions.
Aidan Hutchinson has proven he was the top defensive end in the 2022 NFL Draft recording 21 sacks over the past two years. However, the team needs to find someone to play opposite of him.
Mohamed Kamara is a player I have been bragging about for the past two months, and he would be an ideal fit in the Lions 3-4 defense. He would be the perfect fit in this defense as he is an undersized defensive end who shows the agility to make the switch to outside linebacker. He is also a feared pass rusher having recorded 13 sacks this season, and shows amazing explosiveness off the ball.
The Lions are set at two of the wide receiver spots with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams. However, they do need to add depth at this position especially if Josh Reynolds leaves in free agency.
Malik Washington is one of the more productive wide receivers in the 2024 NFL Draft having caught a school record 110 passes for 1,426 yards this season. His most impressive trait as a prospect is his sure hands which saw him only drop four passes on his 176 catches over the past two seasons. He is also a good return man and should be able to make a contribution on special teams in Detroit.
The Lions already added one cornerback with their first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, but don’t be surprised if they also add one on day three. This is due to the fact Detroit needs to find both a starter at this position and add depth.
Arkansas’s Dwight McGlothern is a big athletic corner, who has seven interceptions over the past two seasons. However, he will likely fall in the draft due to his inconsistent play during his college career which led to him losing his starting job for part of the 2023 season.
"Three things stand out with Arkansas cornerback Dwight McGlothern which are his size, his ball skills, and his understanding of the game. At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds he is a bigger corner who is not afraid to challenge receivers. This physicality and his overall ball skills helped him finish second in the SEC with four picks last year. He also has a great understanding of the game and can pick up on even the smallest tendencies. "- My preseason report on Dwight McGlothern
As mentioned earlier in this article the Lions have a dominant offensive line and that is led by offensive tackles Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell. However, the team doesn’t have a single player behind them under contract for next year.
Penn State’s Caedan Wallace was one of the more underrated offensive tackles in the Big Ten last year only giving up one sack on the year. He should be able to develop into a reliable backup as either a right tackle or offensive tackle.
Three undrafted free agents who could make sense for the Detroit Lions
The following three players are prospects who carry an undrafted free agent grade, according to NFL Mock Draft Database that would be good fits in Denver.
Jaden Shirden, RB, Monmouth
The Lions have a good 1-2 punch in David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, but they could look to add a number three back late in the draft or as an undrafted free agent. Shirden was a two time FCS All-American and this past season he rushed for 1,478 yards averaging 6.7 yards per carry.
Drake Stoops, WR, Oklahoma
Drake Stoops is another player in the 2024 NFL Draft who has the type of character Dan Campbell loves. In addition, to his high character, he is a top-notch rout runner who knows how to create separation.
Khristian Boyd, DT, UNI
Northern Iowa’s Khristian Boyd is a player who impressed during the East-West Shrine Bowl and was named the bowl’s Defensive Player of the Week. He would give the Lions even more depth on their defensive line.