Detroit Lions: Questions looming over first-round pick

Just like any other April, there are many questions surrounding the Detroit Lions and their first-round selection in the upcoming draft.

Uncertainties range from what position to draft, to the possibility of trading up or down, and even whether general manager Martin Mayhew will stick with his “best player available” approach.

How it breaks down:

Draft ’em if they’re there

It’s unlikely that any of these players will fall to the Lions but if one of them does, Detroit’s draft room shouldn’t hesitate to send in the selection.

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: Clowney’s size, speed, and athleticism is well worth the risk of his personal motor, no questions asked.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: It’s tough to find something about Watkins to dislike. He’s versatile, explosive, and isn’t afraid to catch balls in traffic.

Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: Mack would provide new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin with a player comparable to a guy he coached in Baltimore, Terrell Suggs.

Positions to pass on

It’s safe to say that Detroit is set with offensive tackle and quarterback, no need to draft those positions in the first round.’s mock draft has five prospects at these two positions being selected in the top ten.

Quarterbacks: Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, and Johnny Manziel

Offensive Tackles: Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews

Swappin’ picks

Trade up: The only player worthy of the Lions trading up is Sammy Watkins. The cost will be high, but it’s an option well worthy of consideration.

Trade down: If the right player isn’t available at ten, there’s no need to reach or settle for the best player available. If there’s a team willing to pay the hefty price, it would be in the Lions’ best interests to move down and grab some picks in this year’s draft.


Detroit now has six corners on their roster by re-signing Rashean Mathis. If the coaching staff and front office believe that he can still contribute at a high level in a starting role (along with one of the other corners) then the Lions should pass on Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard.

If Austin and his defensive staff want to add a top-tier prospect at that position then Detroit could move back a few spots and fulfill that need in the 13-18 pick-range.

Remaining possibilities

If the Lions find themselves on the clock without taking the course of one of the above possibilities, there are four remaining players that Detroit should select from. (In order of preference.)

Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: Detroit has two solid linebackers in DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch but neither of them posses great ability to rush the passer and Barr has exactly that. He’s a versatile weapon that can be featured in Detroit’s defensive scheme from day one and his natural abilities will aid him in developing a full repertoire.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix: The safety position has transformed from a glaring weakness in the Lions defense to a much better asset than analysts are willing to give it credit. With Glover Quinn at free safety and Ihedigbo taking over strong safety, Clinton-Dix would give the Lions plenty of options in sub-packages as well as a possible three-safety rotation.

Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: It was a hard decision to put Clinton-Dix ahead of Evans but it makes more sense for the Lions to solidify the secondary before giving Matthew Stafford more weapons to work with. However, with that being said, it would be nice to throw another 6-foot-5 wide receiver into the mix.

Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: The only necessary reasoning behind this pick, in the simplest words possible, is this: “Do you remember the numbers that Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski put up when they played together for the New England Patriots?”

In two seasons they caught 275 passes, for 3,510 yards, and 40 touchdowns.


I am confident that the eventual pick will come from the “remaining” group. It no longer comes down to making the best case for any one player, but more so, who has the weakest case against drafting them.

My mind changes nearly every time the sun rises, however, it’s a nice problem to have because each of those four players will drastically improve the Lions in their own way.

Based on Jim Caldwell’s background and the fact that he was not only brought in to win, but to also increase the level of Stafford’s play, I predict that the pick will be Mike Evans.Detroit Lions

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  • mitch696969

    Going for broke would entail trading Suh and acquiring a top 6 pick with another for him. The Lions should expect a minimum of two good picks for Suh and probably three. Selecting Watkins or Mathews would give them a nearly complete dominant offensive line with depth or a complete top tier wr group. They would have to start over at DT but that isn’t as impossible to do as advertised. They could still trade down from 10 and pick up Donald if desired or add a cb round 1 in the 13-17 range. If WR was covered round 1 the options in round 2 are to take the best C, CB, DE, OLB…. Pass coverage would probably be priority in round 2 or the opposite if addressed in round 1, C would be deferred to round 3 but I would expect another 3rd rounder added and so they would probably get OLB or QB help there. Rounds 4-7 could probably see another TE, K, DE, ILB, DT, QB, FB, LS, S and I would expect DE,ILB,S, QB to be more likely in round 4

  • Ronald Southwell Jr

    interesting article and i can’t fault your reasoning but i have another name the lions may consider, either for themselves or other teams might trade up to get and that is aaron donald DT. surprising maybe so, but the lions did jot not pick up the option on fairly and they are in tough negotiation with Suh on an extension. both the bears and cowboys have defensive line needs and might want to get ahead of the giants. farfetched, possibly but donald is an impressive penetrator.

    • Jordan Johnson

      I love Aaron Donald in this draft, however, I don’t see him being a top-10 pick at this point. Whether it’s to the Lions or elsewhere. I agree that there may be a need for DT after this season but for now Fairley and Suh are two studs and the defense needs help elsewhere if they want to win immediately. But if someone wants to jump up to grab him, I have no problem with that.

  • Thomas Hiley III

    Great analysis everything you said is a possibility and you provided great insight to each pick and how it will help the team.

    • Jordan Johnson

      Appreciated. Lots of intriguing possibilities

  • Joe White

    Great breakdown Jordan. Personally, with the Lions elite core of young talent, I think they should go for broke. Do what it takes to get Sammy or Clowney. If impossible, I like your road map.

    • Jordan Johnson

      Thank you. If this is truly an “all-in” year then I don’t see any reason why not. Those guys are easily the most talented of their respective sides of the ball