I was not originally going to have time to do an NFL Draft post this year but life comes at you fast.
I honestly do not know what to expect with this year’s NFL Draft. It’s the first time that Bob Quinn is going to be at the helm for the Lions and as a GM, and I cannot tell which direction he is going to go. I want to be optimistic, but with the Lions…well it’s best to never get your hopes up.
One thing I will say is that this team has a lot more holes than people think and this gives Quinn a lot more room for error in my book with making a “bad” pick during the Draft. Outside of RB, every position could be addressed during the Draft and I would not have a problem with it. Obviously, you do not need starters at every position and it would be asinine to draft a QB or WR in the first round, but it would behoove the Lions to take a QB as a developmental backup and a WR at some point. The Lions will need to upgrade the offensive line early, focusing at tackle and center. I think the Lions should draft a defensive tackle and a defensive end, another outside linebacker, a second CB and a safety. Let’s recap…that puts the needs at:
Backup QB, 3rd WR, OT, C, DE, DT, OLB, 2nd CB, S
That is a lot of problem areas and they cannot all be properly addressed in one offseason.
This gives you a better idea that the Center and Right Tackle spots need to be upgraded, unless of course they decide to move Reiff to RT. Personally, I don’t think it would be that simple, but those are the two biggest holes on the OL since Swanson never developed. Jeremy Kerley and TJ Jones will likely battle it out for that 3rd wide receiver spot, but I would prefer to draft someone at this point. Marvin Jones is your “replacement” for Calvin Johnson, even though you cannot replace a legend with Marvin Jones, so no, the Lions won’t take a wide receiver in round 1.
Looking at the DL, the Lions desperately need another DE and another DT in the rotation. I would prefer to add a starter at DE to go opposite Ziggy Ansah and a future starter at DT (Sheldon Rankins please), but there’s no guarantee that will happen. Stephen Tulloch hasn’t been cut yet, but I would fully expect him to be at some point, which would move Tahir Whitehead to the Mike linebacker spot. Giving you a healthy Levy at one outside spot and a gaping hole where Kyle Van Noy was supposed to be but has not gotten his crap together. In the secondary, I’m a huge Darius Slay and Quandre Diggs fan, but those are #1 and #3 corners respectively. I don’t think Nevin Lawson can play at #2 and so that is going to need to be addressed. The same can be said for Tavon Wilson at SS…a great depth and special teams player he is…a starter, he is not.
I don’t think the Lions will be making the playoffs with this many holes…but they have a nice schedule and 10 draft picks, so I suppose anything is possible. I’m just glad that the Lions were smart with their money in free agency and did not go chasing dumb contracts to try to fill needs to win right away. They will need to sign Darius Slay and Ziggy Ansah to monster contracts in the coming years and it is prudent for them to save the money for now. As I said, they have too many holes to try to bother to get everything squared away this year while simultaneously wrecking their future cap.
Now you’re probably sitting there going…do the Lions even know they have that many needs? Fortunately the answer to that question is yes. This is a list of players that they have met with during the pre-draft process or worked out…
Now obviously they’re not only looking at just the players on this list, but it shows that they are very aware that they have quite a few holes and are doing their due diligence which is an encouraging sign. You could give me a month and I may not have enough time to properly cover each of the players on this list in a blog post.
Anyways let’s get down to brass tax…the needs for me (again), in order, are:
OL, DL, S, CB, OLB, WR, QB
I’ll provide the ideal pick for each round with two alternates for each spot, as per usual, and then the Lions will go ahead and draft none of them.
1st Round, 16th Overall: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State or Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
2nd Round, 46th Overall: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech or Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
3rd Round, 95th Overall (Compensatory): Sean Davis, CB, Maryland
Justin Simmons, S, Boston College or Willie Henry, DT, Michigan
4th Round, 111th Overall: Matt Judon, DE, Grand Valley State
Caleb Benenoch, OT, UCLA or Mike Thomas, WR, Southern Miss
5th Round, 151st Overall: Graham Glasgow, OL, Michigan
Anthony Zettel, DE, Penn State or Travis Feeney, LB, Washington
5th Round, 169th Overall (From Denver): Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan State
Miles Killebrew, S, Southern Utah or Brandon Allen, QB, Arkansas
6th Round, 191st Overall: Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford
Deiondre Hall, DB, Northern Iowa or Willie Beavers, OT, Western Michigan
6th Round, 202nd Overall (From Seattle): Terrance Smith, LB, Florida State
Marquez North, WR, Tennessee or Victor Ochi, DE, Stony Brook
6th Round, 210th Overall (Compensatory): David Morgan, TE, UTSA
Matt Skura, C, Duke or De’Vondre Campbell, LB, Minnesota
7th Round, 236th Overall: Geronimo Allison, WR, Illinois
Jake Rudock, QB, Michigan or Aaron Green, RB, TCU
Now it is entirely possible that because the draft is so deep at defensive tackle that teams wait and address other needs prior to that and it would not shock me to see the Lions be one of those teams. Again, with a year like this with 10 draft picks and a first year GM, anything can happen. I would prefer that the Lions find someone they want and trade up for them, rather than use all ten draft picks because there is no way that all ten make the final 53 man roster…and drafting practice squad players is never ideal. Trade up…trade down…all options are available and hopefully some good comes from it.