A look at the top 15 draft prospects for the Detroit Lions following the NFL Combine and Free Agency
The 2017 NFL Combine is officially over. This is the time of year where many fans begin to develop draft crushes and hype builds for prospects as they showcase their athletic prowess at this event. The NFL Combine is a great tool for scouts to either confirm what they have seen on tape or allow them to see more upside in a player they had not previously been high on. While combine numbers certainly change how some prospects fall on draft boards, it is important to remember that combine numbers are not the “end all, be all” when it comes to evaluating a prospect.
The free agency period is still ongoing, but there have already been several big splashes made by second year GM Bob Quinn for the Lions. Many were nervous about the right side of the line with rumors circulating that Reiff and Warford were likely to walk. This meant to many people that the Lions would probably make a move at offensive line in the draft to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford. Fortunately, Bob Quinn identified the weakness of the offensive line prospects in this year’s draft class and filled the hole through free agency instead by signing tackle Rick Wagner and guard T.J. Lang, who both are incredibly talented in pass protection.
Top 15 Prospects on the Big Board
1) Myles Garrett (DE, Texas A&M)
Last Week’s Rank: #1
Garrett had debatably the best combine of any player in this class. Posting a 4.64s 40 yard dash, 41″ vertical jump, and posting 33 reps on the bench press should seal as the number one selection on draft day.
2) Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
Last Week’s Rank: #4
Thomas looked great through lineman drills and was a top performer in four of the six tested drills. He looked very explosive doing defensive lineman drills and jumping drills.
3) Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
Last Week’s Rank: #9
The combine started off rough as Fournette weighed in at 240 lbs, much heavier than expected. Then he only jumped 28″ in the vertical jump. However, where he really helped himself was when Fournette ran a 4.51s 40 yard dash at the higher than expected weight. That much weight moving that fast will be really hard to stop at the next level.
4) Jamal Adams (SS, LSU)
Last Week’s Rank: #5
Jamal Adams combines great tape with excellent leadership skills and now proved he is the athlete everyone thought he was. A little shorter than some expected but with a 33″ arm length, 4.56 40 yard dash time, and the 2nd best 20 yard shuttle time of any safety at the combine, you can confirm he is as rangy as he looks on tape. Being the top bench press safety also shows his strength is no fluke. Adams will be an enforcer in the NFL.
5) Marshon Lattimore (CB, OSU)
Last Week’s Rank: #6
While his combine was cut short due to a reportedly short-term hamstring injury, Lattimore did enough to prove just how athletic he is. He ran a blazing 4.36s 40 yard dash with a 38″ vertical. If the Lions draft him they would likely have the two most athletic corners in the league.
6) Jonathan Allen (DT, Alabama)
Last Week’s Rank: #2
Allen looked solid but not stellar through the drills at the combine. The Lions desperately need a 3 and Allen is the best one in this class. Trust in the tape. Allen is a day 1 starter and will wreak havoc in the backfield this year.
7) Malik Hooker (S, OSU)
Last Week’s Rank: #3
Hooker is an amazing player on tape but injuries are likely to keep him out through training camp. It’s probable we will not see Hooker on the field before the draft. The injuries may concern some but the tape does not lie. Hooker will be a big play-maker at the next level.
8) OJ Howard (TE, Alabama)
Last Week’s Rank: Unranked
I got the opportunity to watch more tape on Howard and I have realized the error in my original judgement. Howard showed great growth in blocking as the season progressed and had a huge Combine performance to show his potential talent as a pass catcher.
9) Reuben Foster (WLB/MLB, Alabama)
Last Week’s Rank: #8
While Foster did not show up at the combine, the falling stock of Cunningham and the Lions’ most glaring remaining need keep Foster at his high rank. There are not many great cover linebackers in this class, so Foster to Detroit could be a match made in heaven.
10) Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
Last Week: #11
Barnett looked smooth through drills. Not as fast as he appears on tape but he looked quick and agile in the three cone drill, which is evident on tape as he displays the quickest spin move of any edge rusher in this class.
11) Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan)
Last Week: #12
The more tape you watch, the more you’ve got to love Davis. Most deep burners have issues running routes or have drop issues. Neither should worry you with Davis. Only worry about release and blocking as he was not challenged to do either at WMU.
12) Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)
Last Week’s Rank: #10
The more tape you watch on Williams, the more you begin to wonder if he has the deep speed to beat corners over the top at the pro level. However, the Lions need a physical wide receiver on the outside and Williams is very good at winning contested jump balls.
13) Haason Reddick (SLB, Temple)
Last Week’s Rank: #25
Reddick was someone I listed last week as my under the radar guy heading into the combine. He is no longer unknown to those who watched the combine. Reddick used the combine to vault himself solidly into the first round. His ideal position, the more tape I watch, is strong side linebacker. With his speed, cover skills, and ability to blitz, it will be very hard for Detroit to pass on him.
14) Gareon Conley (CB, OSU)
Last Week’s Rank: #23
Conley seemed like a press corner to many before the combine. He used his length to disrupt receivers but was not tested deep much so there were questions on his deep speed. Posting a 4.44s 40 yard dash makes taking a second look at Conley’s tape a must. If he has the deep speed, he could make a push for the mid first round.
15) Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
Last Week’s Rank: #19
McCaffrey excelled at every drill he performed. He even posted the second highest 3 cone drill time since 2007 at 6.57s. His long speed was questioned and answered as he ran a 4.48s 40 yard dash. He had a high vertical jump as well and looked like a wide receiver running through the catching drills. McCaffrey could do big things behind the newly built offensive line and catching the ball from Stafford.