The Detroit Lions will be picking (or trading) at 21 on Thursday night. They have needs at several positions. They need a linebacker. They need a defensive end. They could use upgrades at tight end, corner, defensive tackle, running back, and 3rd wide receiver. Based on what we have seen from Bob Quinn in his first full season as the Lions GM, the impact positions will be chosen first. In his first draft, he focused on offensive and defensive line before looking at flash spots like running back and quarterback. This year, Bob Quinn will likely target defensive end or linebacker in the first round. Either position shows that he is not focusing on the quick fix flash pick, where former Lions GMs would typically focus their efforts.
One reason I think the focus is on one of those two positions I mentioned above is because of how last year’s first round went. Bob Quinn came in last offseason, he focused on adding depth in free agency, and fans felt like he neglected the failing offensive line. Once the draft started, he invested 2 picks in the first 3 rounds on the offensive line. Both of those picks ended up as starters at some point last season, solidifying a huge hole from two years ago. This year, linebacker was the huge obvious weakness and Quinn did not address it in free agency. While linebacker is not as deep as other positions in this draft, it is deep enough that if the Lions do not take linebacker in the first round, it will happen in the second round. There are three linebackers who are getting mocked to Detroit at this point, and all three, if available, would be an upgrade over what we have now.
The other of the two needs that I mentioned, defensive end, was an obvious hole as well. Pass rushers are plentiful in this draft, so first round does not need to be a target for that position, but it is a position that needs to be addressed. Bob Quinn undoubtedly noticed the lack of pressure the Detroit defense put on opposing teams all season with their leading sacker being an undrafted free agent journeyman in Kerry Hyder.
As the draft moves along, expect Bob Quinn to add a tight end who can block and catch, someone like a Michael Roberts from Toledo makes sense. The Lions will draft either a receiver or a running back in the mid to late rounds. They have looked at several receivers and not as many running backs, although they have gone to the pro days of all of the big names at running back in the draft. While the may not take one, corner would be a wise target for the Lions given how deep the corner position is in this draft. The late rounds will contain several corners who have the potential to be solid rotational pieces in the Lions defense. Adding a bigger, more athletic corner would be ideal so that they can move Nevin Lawson inside to his natural slot position, but from what I hear, the Lions like Lawson outside so the move will likely not happen.
The exciting part of the offseason is just a few days away when round one starts on Thursday. Who will the Lions take in round one? Will Hassan Reddick be available? Will the Lions surprise everyone and take someone that no one is expecting?