This upcoming NFL Draft could have huge ramifications on the future of the Detroit Lions. General Manager Bob Quinn had a very solid draft in his first year at the helm of an NFL Franchise that has a history of extremely poor drafts.
The Lions showed signs of brilliance in 2016, but their two Achilles heals reared their ugly heads and stopped a promising season short on Wild Card Weekend; injuries and penalties.
The defense was solid, allowing 20 points or less during an eight week stretch in the middle of the season. The offensive line that has plagued them for years kept their franchise QB upright for most of the season. However, they still have a lot of needs, so before I begin in with this mock, allow me to run down all of those needs so we know what we need to address.
TEAM NEEDS: Defensive End, Safety, Cornerback, Linebacker, Red-Zone Threat WR. Third Down Running Back
Although the defense showed some promise in 2016, their inconsistency and injuries did them in. Star linebacker DeAndre Levy was almost non-existent due to injuries, defensive end Ziggy Ansah battled injuries, Darius Slay had no number two corner to help him in coverage, and the Lions rushing defense was poor and their passing defense was just all over the place.
The Lions biggest need, in my opinion, is a wide receiver who is a threat in the red zone. The Lions were the leagues best red zone offense in 2015. That just so happens to be their last season with Calvin Johnson, who retired that offseason. They really missed Megatron in the red zone and boy did it show. Detroit’s Red Zone TD percentage was 54.17% in 2016, which is down from the 69.39% mark they posted in 2015. They averaged 1.5 Red Zone TDs per game in 2016, down from 2.1 in 2015.
Quickly about the third down back, they weren’t bad at converting on third down necessarily, they were bad at third and short. A good third down back could help clean that up.
With all of that out of the way, we can finally get to the mock:
First Round, Lions select: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
The Lions could go a plethora of different directions with this pick. They could go with Jones, they could go with another OSU product in Marshon Lattimore, or they could go with a Michigan State Spartan by selecting defensive lineman Malik McDowell. However, I’m giving Darius Slay his #2 corner to help him in pass coverage.
Opposing QBs absolutely feared Jones in 2016, as he received just 48 targets all season. That is with good reason, believe me. Jones held opposing QBs to a QBR of just 42.1 with his coverage. Pro Football Focus had him rated as the 11th best corner in the nation with a grade of 86.5. Jones should slot in as a reliable pass defender who can take some of the workload off of Slay.
Second Round, Lions select: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
*UPDATE: The player I originally had here, Cortland Sutton, is returning to college. Here’s who I had behind him.*
Well, the Lions need depth at corner, and they’ll roll the dice here. White had an excellent 2014 campaign but fell off a bit after an inconsistent 2015. The Lions draft a second corner in a row due to Nevin Lawson’s expiring contract and due to the fact that behind him is Johnson Bademosi. This is more of a depth pick but it’s also a fallback option in case Jones isn’t working out alongside Slay.
Third Round, Lions select: Jarron Jones, DL, Notre Dame
I narrowed my choices down to two players and it was between two D-Linemen; Charles Walker out of Oklahoma and Jones. On tape, I find Jones to stand out a lot more. He is quick to disrupt a play in the backfield and has a high IQ on the line.
Jones would give the Lions a duo of young interior linemen with him and A’Shawn Robinson. This also gives them depth at a position that they are rather depleted in. Much like corner, the Lions have a pressing need on the defensive line and Bob Quinn uses his pick here to add a player with some upside.
Well, that’s it for the first three rounds of our mock draft. Let me know what you think. Did I do a good job or am I the Matt Mullen and/or Martin Mayhew of mocks? You be the judge!
Photo Credit: The Detroit News