Although the Detroit Lions didn’t seem to draw much attention in the beginning stages of free agency, they made a giant splash by signing former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate. Detroit is also the leading candidate to sign former Baltimore Ravens safety James Ihedigbo.
As the free-agency period begins to clam down, the Lions appear to be heading into the 2014 NFL Draft with two of their three major needs addressed: wide receiver and safety.
Assuming the Lions are able to sign Ihedigbo, let’s take a look at three different tangents that Detroit could take in rounds 1-3 of the NFL Draft.
(Disclaimer: Sammy Watkins is not available in the first round)
The first tangent is the tangent that I believe to be the best course of action for the Lions.
Round 1: Darqueze Dennard, CB – Michigan State
Dennard’s style of play is what I believe makes him the Lions’ best option to address the need at cornerback. He has proven in MSU’s Pro Day that he is explosive enough to start at the next level.
Round 2: Scott Crichton, DE – Oregon State
With the departure of Willie Young, the Lions now have a void at defensive end. I think it would be wise for Detroit to try to find a permanent solution in the draft, rather than fill that hole via committee. Where Crichton might lack the athleticism of Jadeveon Clowney, he sure makes up for it with his size. He recorded 16.5 sacks in his last two collegiate-seasons and is best fit for a traditional 4-3 defense.
Round 3: Weston Richburg, C – Colorado State
Detroit will need to replace Dominic Raiola following the 2014 season and the third round of this year’s draft appears to be a safe place to do just that. If Richburg is already off the board, Travis Swanson of Arkansas is a safe bet for the Lions in the third round.
The second tangent could be best described as the fall-back plan of the first tangent.
Round 1: Anthony Barr, OLB- UCLA
Barr shows exceptional athleticism for his size and will soon be a terror on an every-day basis in the NFL. Detroit is without a pure pass-rushing linebacker and Barr would make an excellent addition to the Lions’ front seven.
Round 2: Kyle Fuller, CB – Virginia Tech
Fuller is the best among the second tier of corners in this year’s draft. Although they may not be classified as elite, his size and speed make him an all-around package that could develop into a solid number-two corner. The Lions need help at the cornerback position and if they don’t get it in the first round, Fuller would make a great addition here.
Round 3: Terrence Brooks, Safety – Florida State
I did approach this mock under the assumption that the Lions will sign Ihedigbo, however, I’m not necessarily assuming that it will be a multi-year deal. Regardless, Detroit was impressed after having met with Brooks during the combine and new defensive coordinator Terryl Austin would love the opportunity to add another tool to his secondary. Brooks displayed his great speed at the combine, running a 4.42 40-yard dash.
Detroit Lions: Free agency updates
The third tangent takes the Lions’ needs into consideration, but with a bit of “crazy” added to the mix.
Round 1: Taylor Lewan, OT – Michigan
Detroit had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL last year and Riley Reiff and LaAdrian Waddle have the tackle positions locked up for multiple years. However, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched for the Lions to draft a position that they don’t necessarily need, would it?
Round 2: Pierre Desir, CB – Lindenwood
Comparable to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Desir has great size and athleticism. He played against inferior competition at the collegiate level, but I find him behind Fuller as the best second-round corner.
Round 3: Telvin Smith, OLB – Florida State
At just 218-pounds, Smith is undersized but has exceptional speed at the linebacker position. He is a bit of a project, however, he could immediately impact the Lions defense with his pass-rushing abilities.