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The Detroit Lions are entering what could be their most crucial offseason in recent memory. The Lions suffered their first 10-loss season since 2012 when they finished 4-12. The offense looked sluggish at best, which led to the ousting of offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Despite this, Detroit has reason to believe they can take a step forward in 2019. The 2018 draft class was one of the best performing classes of the past season.
Among rookies at their respective positions, Pro Football Focus ranked offensive guard Frank Ragnow (4th), running back Kerryon Johnson (4th), free safety Tracy Walker (1st), and defensive tackle De’Shawn Hand (1st) in the top 5. This does not include offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby, who filled in well as a backup and on special teams.
The Detroit Lions head into the offseason with a foundation to build off of a bleak season. They will pick in the top 10 of the draft for the first time since 2013, when they selected tight end Eric Ebron 10th overall. This draft is heavy defensively, especially at the top end of the draft. Here is how I see the first three rounds playing out for the Lions:
With the 8th overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Greedy Williams, cornerback, LSU
The Detroit Lions have a need at corner, and Greedy Williams is the top corner available. Williams has amazing lockdown ability, as well as rare speed for someone of his size. The redshirt sophomore sat out of LSU’s Fiesta Bowl game against UCF in preparation for the draft. Williams recorded 8 interceptions in his freshman season, earning freshman All-American honors. This season, he recorded just 2 interceptions, but was a vital part of one of the best defenses in the nation. He would be a great opposite Lions standout corner Darius Slay, and I think he could still be there at #8 for Detroit.
With the 43rd overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Chase Winovich, defensive end, Michigan
The Detroit Lions have a need at defensive line as well, specifically off the edge. Chase Winovich has the strength to fight off blockers with his hands, and a non-stop motor that drives him to play until the whistle. A popular first round mock is Winovich’s teammate, Rashan Gary. However, I feel Gary could go before #8, and Winovich wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize. This is a case of keeping a Michigan player in Michigan, which gives the Lions an advantage in terms of getting the prospect accustomed to the area. Winovich can also play outside linebacker, which will aide one of the worst linebacking corps in the league.
With the 84th overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Cameron Smith, inside linebacker, USC
Another player who could aide the Lions linebacker group is USC captain Cameron Smith. He is a prospect who will end a play when it goes his way. In addition, Smith is a three-down linebacker, but doesn’t have the explosiveness to generate sacks and needs to learn how to use his power. Smith has the agility to be able to dip lineman, but also holds] the strength to drive a blocking tight end or fullback downfield.
Featured Photo Credit: Associated Press