After the complete and utter disappointment of the Michigan football season, I could not bring myself to write anything recapping the season or talking up spring ball. It just did not seem like there was much of a point/nothing could be added to what happened. The results spoke for themselves. Expectations were not too high until after the win streak started…and then everyone’s hopes/expectations got raised, mine included. At the last second, the clock struck midnight and Michigan turned out to be exactly who we thought they were.
Having had the proper amount of time to reflect on it, the Detroit Lions had a little bit of a similar arc/season. The only difference is that expectations were high at the start and then as the year progressed, they showed us their true colors and just how bad the roster actually was. Feel free to disagree, but having had the time to digest it and process the season, this team was actually not good and the fact they missed the playoffs should not have been a surprise. I had high hopes going into the year with the new coaching staff and figured a few tweaks would help the Lions take the next step, but the overhaul that is needed and the actual roster were much further behind than I initially anticipated.
(If you want to see the 7-round Mock and the list of needs, feel free to scroll to the bottom past the list of players the Lions have met with)
Things clearly were underwhelming under year one with Matt Patricia and there is major room for improvement. Moving on from Jim Bob Cooter as OC to hire Darrell Bevell is an underwhelming move…not a bad one because I’m sick to death of JBC’s predictive play calling… it’s just not a sexy hire. Maybe it’s going to work out. I’ve been wrong plenty of times before and would be more than happy to be wrong again. I’m just used to seeing the offense in Seattle which is more or less Russell Wilson runs for his life for 5-7 seconds and then just chucks it up and hopes for the best (only a slight exaggeration).
After not doing much in free agency last year, the Lions decided to step into the ring and made a big time splash this year. They went out and signed the best EDGE available in Trey Flowers to a big time 5-year $90 Million contract. They added Justin Coleman on a 4-year $36 Million deal…Coleman is primarily a nickel, but something tells me he might get some work outside at that money. The Lions also added Jesse James to help bolster the tight end position (4 for $28.5) and then shored up some other spots with some veterans with guys like Danny Amendola and CJ Anderson.
Despite all of these moves, the Lions holes are not filled. They cut TJ Lang because of his injury history and his dead cap his amount was low so now there is a major need for a RG. They still need a 2nd cornerback because unless Teez Tabor changes his life around, he’s not that guy. They need a third wide receiver because Amendola is just a stop-gap. And for my money, I think they could use another linebacker, EDGE and tight end to bolster those positions. So, you know, just a few things (OG, CB, WR, LB, EDGE, TE).
Looking closer at the depth chart, the Lions will likely look to add a quarterback later in the draft to compete with Tom Savage and Connor Cook as the backup. Perhaps a guy that could develop into an eventual starter. Or perhaps just a guy to hold the clipboard while Stafford gets the job done.
At running back, I actually like the four backs that they have with Kerryon Johnson, Zach Zenner, Theo Riddick and CJ Anderson. This running back class is solid, but I would not expect them to even look at a running back before the 4th round. For me, they’re fine with the group they’ve got and can wait until next year to address this if they need to get a compliment for Kerryon.
Tight end after Jesse James is absolutely not good enough and I expect them to address this in the first three rounds. I like James but they need someone who is athletic, like Eric Ebron (sigh), that they can move around and create mismatches with.
At wide receiver, outside of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, they have nothing. Amendola will likely only be here for the year and I do not see anyone that will have any sort of long-term impact on the roster. Jones’ contract is up in two years and the Lions can get out of it with only $2.6 Million in dead cap after this year. I expect wide receiver to be addressed relatively early in the draft.
At offensive line, four of the five starting spots are spoken for. Then you have Joe Dahl, Tyrell Crosby or a potential draft choice that can fill TJ Lang’s vacated RG spot. How well either of them could shift to the right guard spot and perform is certainly up for debate. But both Dahl and Crosby have shown their versatility ever since college. I would still anticipate the Lions addressing the offensive line early in the draft.
Shifting over to the defensive line, I would say that the starting spots are likely solidified for now and Hand’s versatility gives them a solid rotation. Snacks Harrison was a monster pick up for the defensive line and it will be interesting to see if Romeo Okwara can build off his surprisingly good year last year. They still need another EDGE, but I cannot decide if they’re going to address this early on with the depth at the position in the draft. I think if Josh Allen were to fall to them (highly unlikely) or they make a move up (likely too expensive), they could look to address this either after trading down or later in the 2nd round. I do not see them addressing EDGE at 8th overall, even though I would be cool with them taking Brian Burns.
Looking at linebacker more closely, you can see that the Lions have a sneaky need there. Jarrad Davis is obviously going to start next year and I like Jalen Reeves-Maybin as a depth guy. But both Devon Kennard and Christian Jones could be gone after this year and those would be tough spots to fill in the same offseason. I could see the Lions looking at a guy like Devin Bush and then shifting around who starts where. Bush could probably play the weakside linebacker spot but it would not shock me to see them move Jarrad Davis around. The linebacker class is weak in my opinion after Bush and Devin White…so if they do not address it round 1, I would not expect them to take a linebacker until later. And I would be STUNNED if they took Devin White if he was available because he and Jarrad Davis are virtually the same player.
The secondary has some big time needs at the #2 corner spot and I would like to see them add a safety…particularly because the safety class is extremely deep this year. I like Quandre Diggs and think he’s a starter and while I like Tavon Wilson and Tracy Walker and think they can contribute, I’m not sure they’re the ideal starting options next year. The same can be said for Rashaan Melvin and Teez Tabor at the #2 cornerback spot. It’ll be interesting to see where they put Justin Coleman, because Jamal Agnew could start again in the nickel if he’s outside…but the underlying point is there are major questions about the secondary at 2 key spots. Thank god Darius Slay is plug and play.
Matt Prater, Sam Martin and Don Muhlbach will be your starting special teamers…nothing to see here. And if they do ever move on from Martin, I doubt they’ll draft a punter again.
Last year I touched on the list of players the Lions had met with and how they have a track record of drafting players that they have met with. Now there is obviously always misinformation out there and team’s do a good job of keeping things quiet…but there is still a trend there. In his first draft, Bob Quinn 6/10 of the Lions picks were on this list. In his second draft 5/9 picks were on this list. And last year, 2/6 were on this list.
Want another clue?
So without further adieu, here are the guys the Lions have met with at some point during the process (you can see the full list for every team over at Walter Football):
Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State (PRI)
Nasir Adderley^, S, Delaware (SR, WOR)
Josh Allen^, 3-4OLB/OLB, Kentucky (COM, PRI)
Blessuan Austin, CB, Rutgers (PRO)
Derrick Baity, CB, Kentucky (PRI)
Nick Bosa, DE/3-4OLB, Ohio State (COM)
Blace Brown, CB, Troy (PRO)
Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan (LOC)
Brian Burns, DE/3-4OLB/OLB, Florida State (PRI)
Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan (LOC)
Malik Carney, OLB, North Carolina (EW)
Blake Cashman, ILB, Minnesota (COM)
L.J. Collier, DE/3-4DE, TCU (PRI)
Maxx Crosby, DE, Eastern Michigan (LOC)
Jamal Custis, WR, Syracuse (PRO)
Nate Davis, OT, Charlotte (PRO)
Berkley Edwards, RB, Minnesota (LOC)
Noah Fant^, TE, Iowa (COM, PRI)
Clelin Ferrell, DE/3-4OLB, Clemson (PRI)
Rashan Gary, DE/3-4DE, Michigan (LOC)
Zach Gentry, TE, Michigan (LOC)
Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri (PRO)
Charles Harris, DE, Buffalo (LOC)
Darius Harris, ILB, Middle Tennessee (PRI)
N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State (PRI)
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State (COM)
Tae Hayes, CB, Appalachian State (PRO)
Karan Higdon, RB, Michigan (LOC)
Ka’dar Hollman^, CB, Toledo (WOR, LOC)
Reggie Howard, DT, Toledo (LOC)
Tyree Jackson^, QB, Buffalo (COM, PRO)
Gary Jennings, WR, West Virginia (PRO)
Diontae Johnson, WR, Toledo (LOC)
Lonnie Johnson Jr., CB, Kentucky (PRI)
P.J. Johnson, DT/NT, Arizona (PRI)
Dawson Knox, TE, Ole Miss (PRI)
Cam Lewis, CB, Buffalo (LOC)
David Long, CB, Michigan (LOC)
Terry McLaurin, WR, Ohio State (WOR)
Junior McMullen, ILB, Miami (Ohio) (LOC)
Joshua Miles, G, Morgan State (EW)
Byron Murphy, CB, Washington (PRI)
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma (COM)
Isaac Nauta, TE, Georgia (COM)
Ed Oliver, DT, Houston (COM)
Charles Omenihu, DE, Texas (COM)
Anthony Pittman, ILB, Wayne State (MI) (LOC)
Derrick Puni, OT/G, Central Missouri State (WOR)
Taylor Rapp, S, Washington (PRI)
Tommy Richardson, G, Wayne State (MI) (LOC)
Dru Samia, G, Oklahoma (PRO)
Drew Sample, TE, Washington (PRI)
David Sills, WR, West Virginia (PRO)
Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama (PRI)
Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford (COM)
Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M (PRI)
Sione Takitaki, OLB, Brigham Young (EW)
Lexington Thomas, RB, UNLV (PRI)
Cody Thompson, WR, Toledo (LOC)
John Ursua, WR, Hawaii (PRI)
Isaiah Wharton, CB, Rutgers (WOR)
Tyler Wiegers, QB, Eastern Michigan (LOC)
Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt (PRI)
Quinnen Williams, DT/3-4DE, Alabama (COM)
Chase Winovich, DE/3-4OLB/OLB, Michigan (LOC)
Juwon Young, ILB, Marshall (PRI)
So if we consider the trends and the players on this list to be completely accurate, who are two guys that stand out the most that could be drafted by the Lions in the first round? TE TJ Hockenson from Iowa and OT Jonah Williams from Alabama. CB Greedy Williams from LSU and CB Deandre Baker from Georgia also fit the bill, but I consider them far less likely unless the Lions trade down. DE Montez Sweat from Mississippi State would also fit the bill, especially with the Senior Bowl aspect, but his heart issue might give the Lions pause.
Now that we have all of this information, you’re probably thinking, oh my god shut up and just tell me where the Lions pick and who they might take. Okay okay fine. No more tangents.
Round 1, Pick 8
Round 2, Pick 43
Round 3, Pick 88
Round 4, Pick 111,
Round 5, Pick 146
Round 6, Pick 184
Round 6, Pick 204
Round 7, Pick 224
Round 7, Pick 229
Bob Quinn has said multiple times, publicly, that he wants to trade down at 8 and pick up more draft picks. Even though 9 draft picks seems like a lot, I fully expect the Lions to trade down at least once. They will likely spend the weekend moving around the board and it should be entertaining to say the very least.
Alright, now here’s my 7-round mock, which is what I would do if I was in Bob Quinn’s shoes if I cannot trade down (which I would love to do).
1st Round, 8th Overall: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Brian Burns, DE, Florida State or Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
2nd Round, 43rd Overall: Chris Lindstrom, IOL, Boston College
Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State or Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
3rd Round, 88th Overall: David Long, CB, Michigan
Amani Hooker, S, Iowa or Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State
4th Round, 111th Overall: Josh Oliver, TE, San Jose State
Mecole Hardman, WR, UGA or Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State
5th Round, 146th Overall: David Sills, WR, WVU
Karan Higdon, RB, Michigan, or Zedrick Woods, S, Ole Miss
6th Round, 184th Overall: Sutton Smith, EDGE, Northern Illinois
Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State or Mike Weber, RB, OSU
6th Round, 204th Overall: Benny Snell, RB, Kentucky
Austin Bryant, EDGE, Clemson or Cam Smith, LB, USC
7th Round, 224th Overall: Isaiah Buggs, IDL, Bama
Diontae Johnson, WR, Toledo or Isaiah Prince OT, OSU
7th Round, 229th Overall: Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State
TJ Edwards, LB, Wisconsin or Tony Pollard, RB, Memphis
I made this using The Draft Network’s “predictive board,” which I’m assuming is their version of predicting how team’s boards are. For me, I do not necessarily agree with their rankings all of the time, but their Mock Draft simulator is infinitely smoother than Fan Speak’s, even if you have to use their rankings mostly.
Naturally I’m a little biased, but I would be happy with this draft. I would say almost no chance that Lindstrom is there in Round 2, let alone David Long in Round 3, but the rest is highly possible. Whether that’s good or not or whether I know what I’m doing or not is certainly up for debate. The good news? The NFL Draft is this weekend and all of this posturing will finally be over.
Photo via: Detroit Lions