Is there really ever a time that is “too early” to think about April’s NFL Draft? Of course, there is still plenty of opportunities for players to either hurt or help their draft status and opinions about them will change, but it’s never too early to develop an in idea of what might happen in April.
The Detroit Lions are no longer without a head coach, so the next step for fans is to get overwhelmingly excited for the draft. For fans in Detroit, the seven months of the offseason is more exciting than the regular season will ever be; the offseason is never full of heart-breaking losses or times of contemplating whether doing household chores will be less agonizing than watching the Lions play.
The offseason includes none of these things, the offseason is a time of bliss, excitement, and the pleasurable thought that Detroit is undefeated in the record books; and that process all begins with the draft.
The Lions have three main needs: cornerback, wide receiver, and safety.
The need at cornerback is clear, the team was awful at that position in 2013. The threat of having two game-changing wide receivers is one that many teams have sought out. For example, the Denver Broncos have two big-time threats with Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker and don’t forget about the Atlanta Falcons’ dual-threat of Roddy White and Julio Jones.
As for the safety position, Detroit will most likely part ways with Louis Delmas. Even though the hard-hitting safety was able to play in all 16 games last season, he hasn’t been the same player with his constant knee injuries and his contract has a $6.5 million cap-hit next season.
As of now, here are the Lions’ first-round options:
Darqueze Dennard – CB/Michigan State
At 5-foot-11 and 197 pounds, Dennard is the prototype size for a corner in the NFL. This year’s Jim Thorpe winner, awarded to the nation’s best defensive back, looks like the best corner in the draft. As long as he provides scouts with a good time in the 40-yard dash, there’s no reason why the Lions couldn’t end up selecting him with the tenth pick.
Sammy Watkins – WR/Clemson
Watkins isn’t necessarily the biggest guy at 6-foot-1 and 205-pounds, but he has shown all year that he has big-play capability. If the Lions have the chance to add a play-maker like Watkins , to line up opposite of Calvin Johnson, they better jump on it. It is an unlikely scenario that Watkins will even fall to Detroit but if he’s there, he would be a great pick.
HaHa Clinton-Dix – S/Alabama
As of now Clinton-Dix would be a reach to take at ten but if the Lions part ways with Delmas, he would be a fantastic replacement. Detroit could trade down a few spots to grab the former Alabama safety, who is ready to start in the NFL.
Anthony Barr – OLB/DE/UCLA
With two solid linebackers in Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy, Barr could be the final piece to the linebacking-core. It wouldn’t be too crazy to entertain the thought of him playing a handful of snaps at the defensive end position as well, considering Willie Young is no longer under contract. Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 250 pounds, his speed off the ball leads to the idea of him playing a hybrid-linebacker position. The only drawback is that he is still new to playing on the defensive side of the ball.
Detroit could entertain the thought of trading down in the first round to fulfill one of their needs in the early-twenties. Corners that could be available there would include: Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State, Jason Verrett from TCU, or Marcus Roberson from Florida. If Detroit wanted to draft a wide receiver here, the possibilities include: Marqise Lee from USC, Kelvin Benjamin from Florida State, and Allen Robinson from Penn State.
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