There Is No Shortage of Options For The Detroit Lions In The First Round of the Draft, or Day Three.
Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn likes to take a player that will improve two spots and fill a long-term need in the first round. He has done that in both of his drafts to this point. Veterans Riley Reiff and Tahir Whitehead have both seen their replacement drafted the year before they went to free agency for a significant pay raise. Initially, in my first mock draft of the year, I had Isaiah Wynn in the round one slot. That remains an option. Wynn does allow Glasgow to move to center, and he also provides left tackle depth that the Detroit Lions are missing. Other interior offensive line players may be preferable to the team. Will Hernandez, Frank Ragnow, and James Daniels are all players the Lions have conversed with. I believe them to be second-round options more than first-round targets.
The defensive tackle spot is an obvious need. Many mock drafts have either Maurice Hurst or Taven Bryan coming to Detroit. As I said on day one of Draftmas, the Lions do not have a stereotypical three-technique but there is a very large question regarding whether they want one. The New England Patriots defense under Matt Patricia never used that kind of player. They preferred more versatile payers over dedicated gap shooters. There is a question whether Pasqualoni will be running Patricia’s defense or something of his own creation. Hurst or Bryan fit that mold better than any other players in this draft.
Even if they do not want to add a three-technique, there are some good options to add to this group. Da’Ron Payne is a somewhat forgotten man in terms of draft hype. At 6’2″ and 311 lbs, Payne has shown enough burst to fit as an occasional three-technique. He also has the field awareness and the strength to hold up to two-gap responsibility. That would be an unlikely pick, however, if for no reason other than the fact that Payne will likely go before pick 20. Vita Vea also fits that profile, but will definitely go by the time the Detroit Lions pick.
Pass rushers would be the next obvious option. Ziggy Ansah is also currently on a one-year franchise tender. This is a terrible class of pass rushers at the top end though other than Bradley Chubb. Harold Landry, who would not have made it into the first round last year, will likely go in the top ten picks. Marcus Davenport, a low rent Ziggy Ansah, will probably also be off the board before the Lions pick. After him, there is nothing but high-risk medium reward players at the defensive end position.
There is no “hand in the dirt” defensive end worth the number 20 pick. The Lions may look at a linebacker/pass rusher hybrid in this spot. The best player for that role who is likely to be available at pick 20 is Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter. The reason I like Carter for the gig is that for the 30-40% of snaps the team is in base defense he can man the strongside linebacker spot just fine. In obvious passing situations, he is a very capable speed rusher off the edge. This gives Lions defense the kind of flexibility they are likely to covet a lot more now than in previous years.
Those are the three needs that I think the Detroit Lions are most likely to address in round one. Running back is certainly a need after 2018. Both LeGarrette Blount and Ameer Abdullah are free agents in 2019. Unless Derrius Guice is available though I do not anticipate the Lions going that route. I would be surprised if he were available. I would not put it as a lock that the Lions would take him over any of the other options I have listed above if he were. You’ll have to come back for day eight to see who I think the Lions are going to take, but if I were making a list of 5-6 players, it’s up there.
Two Late Round Gems for the Detroit Lions
The parameters I set for these players every year is that they have to be projected day three picks, and I try not to just list off everyone in the fourth round. I’ve had hits like Matt Ioannidis and Matt Judon, I have had misses like Curt Maggit, and Andrew Williamson. Sometimes you eat the worm, and sometimes the worm eats you.
Ade Aruna is a defensive end out of Tulane that I think has a bright future in the league. I am so sure of it, in fact, that I almost didn’t include him on this list because I think he might go a lot higher than he is ranked on draft boards. Aruna beefed up for his senior season to play a five-technique spot more often for the Green Wave in 2017. In 2016 he looked like Lorenzo Carter but at a lower level of competition. Aruna is 6’5″ and 262 lbs, with a 40 time of 4.60 40 and a 1.57 ten-yard split. He is not great in coverage, but playing in Pittsburgh or Baltimore’s scheme as the OLB who is always moving forward, Aruna could outplay his draft slot greatly.
Texas defensive tackle Poona Ford will outplay his measurables. If he were 6’2″ he would be a day two selection in my opinion. At 6′ with 32-3/4″ arms, he has about the same reach his opponents do. If anything that gives him a leverage advantage, he is inherently going to have a lower pad level than his opponent with everything else being equal. He shows good burst off the snap, and a knack for getting into creases between blockers. He wreaks havoc in backfields. Someone will find a use for him.
What is to Come on Day Three
I will start collecting some of the higher profile mock drafts and cataloging what the scuttlebutt around the internet is about the Lions first round pick. You’ll get three more added to the aggregate every day between now and the draft. Come join us in the Lions subreddit, or join me on Twitter @a5hcrack