Podium at the NFL Draft
The Detroit Lions have several options in this upcoming draft. They could select a linebacker, as there are two projected in the top fifteen players. They could select a wide receiver, as there are two options in the top ten. They could take an offensive tackle, as there are three great options in the top fifteen players. They could target a position of need and select a safety as there are two to choose from in the top twenty five. Or they could surprise everyone and trade up to the top of the draft and take a defensive end. Lets take a look at the options the Lions have for this year’s first round.
As mentioned earlier, there are two linebacker options that the Lions could look at. They have mentioned the desire for a rushing linebacker which would open up both of the top linebackers who would otherwise be targeted for a 3-4 defense and the Lions currently run a 4-3. These linebackers are Anthony Barr and Khalil Mack. Mack is expected to be off the board before the Lions pick so he is not expected to be an option for the Lions. Barr however, is an option. He excelled as a rush linebacker at UCLA, but his size and experience leads many to belive he is more of a project for a 4-3 team than he may be worth for that high of a selection.
The Lions could select one of the two top receivers. Sammy Watkins, while not expected to be available at ten, could be a trade up option depending on how the draft unfolds. The lions have expressed a ton of interest in him thus far, having dined with him at his pro-day, and having him visit the headquarters in Allen Park and meeting Bill Ford Jr. Watkins is not the only option for the Lions at receiver if they chose to take one in the first round. Mike Evans from Texas A&M is a large target at six foot five inches, and showed much better than expected speed at the combine. His highlight reel shows that he has good hands, but the knock on him is that he may not be able to generate the separation needed at the NFL level.
The top offensive tackles in this years draft are Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, and Taylor Lewan. All three are considered to be as good if not better than last year’s top tackles. If you remember back to last season, the Lions were expected to be wanting one of the top three tackles to fall to them at five, but instead selected Ziggy Ansah with all three tackles off the board. The Lions did strike gold signing undrafted free agent La’Adrian Waddle who eventually became the starting right tackle on a very good offensive line. The general consensus is that the Lions do not need a tackle as both him and Riley Reiff are very capable players, however, if they are stuck at ten and they select the best player available as they say they will, it is very possible they will select one of the three listed above and shuffle the line around.
The final reasonable option would be for them to select a safety. They could take Calvin Prior out of Louisville, or Ha’Ha Clinton Dix out of Alabama. Dix is more of a coverage safety where Prior is more of a natural strong safety. Given the Lions’ desire to have a true strong and free safety, drafting Prior would make more sense. The knock on him though happens to be a weakness for the current Lions secondary. He is not very strong in coverage. With that being said, it would be expected that Clinton Dix would be the better choice. He played for a very good Alabama team and is strong in coverage. But are either of them worth the number ten slot?
The final wildcard here is that the Lions could surprise everyone and trade up for defensive end Jadaveon Clowney. He is widely talked about as the best player in the draft. He posted ridiculous numbers at the combine, and his highlight reel hit on former University of Michigan running back Vincent Smith showcased his on-field power. Trading up to the top spot might be a bit steep of a price to pay for a Lions team with many holes to fill. It is not just some wild fan hope though as Clowney is expected to visit with the Lions coming up soon.
So who will it be? Will they take a need position with solid wide receiver and safety prospects there? Will they take the safe pick and grab one of the top tackles? Will they choose a linebacker and solidify that position? Or will they blow everyone away and select a stud defensive end to go with the solid defensive line they already have? Only time will tell.