What if the Lions had the first pick? the second? Who would they take? This big board combines the skills and needs that would best fit the 2014-2015 Detroit Lions roster.
Because he doesn’t fit, a top five talent like tackle Greg Robinson will not be listed on this board. At the bottom of each selection, I have assigned a percentage as to how likely it is the player will be wearing blue and silver come September. These percentages are in no way scientific, purely my opinion, and are used to spark debate.
Detroit Lions Big Board
1. Jadeveon Clowney (6-foot-5, 266 pounds)- He’s the clear-cut most talented player in the draft. Alongside Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh, the monster would be unleashed on a weekly basis. The sheer talent on the defensive line would reach astronomical proportions only an All-Madden Team could match up with.
Likeliness Clowney is a Lion: Just a fraction above zero percent. Clowney will likely be the number one overall pick of this draft. If he drops to two, and the Lions feel he is the missing piece to advancing in the playoffs, they just might trade the house for him. Don’t count on it.
2. Sammy Watkins (6-foot, 201 pounds)- He’s an elite wide receiving prospect in the tier of an AJ Green or Julio Jones. While his height is not a plus, his explosiveness and sure hands make him a can’t miss stud.
Likeliness Watkins is a Lion: More possible than many realize but still not likely. It is no secret the Lions love Watkins. Because it looks more and more likely that Mike Evans will not be available at pick number 10, the Lions could go all-in to take their man crush. If Watkins falls to pick five, I am willing to bet the Lions trade up with the Oakland Raiders, a team that has been very open about its interest to trade down. Even at pick two, there is a chance the Lions would move up. I don’t condone the thought, but nothing can stop true love.
3. Khalil Mack (6-foot-3, 247 pounds)- Some argue he makes Clowney look like a clown. An all-around jaugernaut that mixes a fundamentally-sound technique, strong work ethic and impeccable skills. Although best fitted for a 3-4 defense, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell wants a rush linebacker to help tally up the sack totals.
Likeliness Mack is a Lion: If Clowney goes number one, Mack is an early favorite to go number two to the Rams. If not two, then the Jaguars would be able to fit him in perfectly to their defensive scheme. The only chance Mack becomes a Lion is if he drops to five with Watkins already being selected. Mack would then be considered the unquestionable, top talent left, giving the Leos reason to think about moving up.
4. Mike Evans (6-foot-4, 231 pounds)- No other player in this draft is better equipped to catch Matthew Stafford’s high and away fastballs than Evans. A Vincent Jackson clone would give the Lions a dynamic duo on the outside and place shorter free agent signee Golden Tate in the slot.
Likeliness Evans is a Lion: If Evans is there at 10, I don’t see the Lions passing on him; however, I don’t think he gets to ten as the Buccaneers (pick seven) or Bills (pick nine) look to be quite interested as well.
5. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (6-foot-1, 208 pounds)- It is no laughing matter that this is the best cover safety of the class. New Lion James Ihedigbo is much better against the run then the pass, making Clinton-Dix an immediate upgrade in that area and would add much needed depth to the safety spot. The two would likely split duties, at first, based on suspected passing downs or running downs.
Likeliness Clinton-Dix is a Lion: He gets the Most Likely to be a Lion Award by just a hair. He will almost certainly be available at ten, and if the Lions manage to trade down a few spots, he still may be for the taking. Ihedigbo is not a sufficient full-time starter at free safety. If the Lions don’t take Clinton-Dix in round one, expect them to take a another safety by round four at the absolute latest.
6. Darqueze Dennard (5-foot-11, 181 pounds)- He’s the latest Jim Thorpe Award Winner. Dennard’s game tape is superb, while his measurements don’t fully match those of a top-ten pick. His press coverage skills are supreme, while his hips playing off coverage are a little stiff. A physical corner with average size, durability concerns will shake a few general managers.
Likeliness Dennard is a Lion: Oddly enough, the signing of Cassius Vaughn and resigning of RaShean Mathis has put doubts in my mind as to whether the Lions will take a cornerback at all in this draft. The Lions have plenty of depth at the spot, but they have no number one guy. Unless the Lions see a cornerback with that type of in-season potential, I don’t see it happening as there is no need for them to select another nickelback or slot type. That said, I think Dennard has the best chance of any corner in this draft to be an instant starter.
7. Justin Gilbert (6-foot, 202 pounds)- While Dennard is the most polished corner, Gilbert may have the most skill. His seven interceptions in 2013 show his prowess as a ball-hawk, but he is more vulnerable to give up a common completion.
Likeliness Gilbert is a Lion: If the Lions like Gilbert more than Dennard, it will be because of his high ceiling and turnover ability. With slightly better size and speed, Gilbert has more room to improve than Dennard. For Gilbert to be on the Lions, Mayhew would have to see an immediate game-changer.
8. Aaron Donald (6-foot, 285 pounds)- A speedy, little tank with a relentless motor. Never will you find a more physically fit and athletic defensive tackle. Only his size is a concern, but despite a 285-pound frame he put up the second most reps on the bench for his position.
Likeliness Donald is a Lion: Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley’s futures with the Lions are up in the air. Aaron Donald would make either of them expendable. If they don’t see a deal coming with Suh, possibly a sign-and-trade could be in order. Donald will almost certainly be the first defensive tackle selected on Thursday, and pick 10 is right around where he should go. Though drafting Donald would give the Lions three first-round defensive tackles in the last five years.
9. Anthony Barr (6-foot-5, 255 pounds)- A pass-rushing specialist with an all-pro upside. His athleticism and size are tremendous, but his technique and fundamentals are lacking. His moves at the line of scrimmage are less than subpar, counting on his pure speed to get to the quarterback. He has all the looks of a star but needs more work on his tackling and pursuit skills.
Likeliness Barr is a Lion: Unlike Mack, Barr should be available at pick 10. If Caldwell is serious about getting a speedy outside linebacker, there is no better project than Barr. At the very least, he would be an immediate asset on assumed passing situations. Top-notch coaching is crucial to capitalize on his enormous ceiling.
10. C.J. Mosley (6-foot-2, 238 pounds)- Nick Saban has taught this one well. Wherever the ball goes, Mosley will be there. His knee injury concerns will likely place him in the mid-first round at the highest.
Likeliness Mosley is a Lion: If the Lions did not have a stalwart at middle linebacker in Stephen Tulloch, Mosley’s chances would go up. While he can play outside linebacker, his athletic ability is not his greatest strength and would better feature in the middle where his knowledge and instincts could captain a defense.
Notable Mentions: Eric Ebron, Odell Beckham Jr., Kyle Fuller, Calvin Pryor, Marqise Lee
Likeliness of the field to be selected- Hard to see any of these guys in Detroit, unless the team trades down. Beckham Jr. has made a recent push up draft boards, but I find it hard to believe he has jumped into the top 10. Ebron has the talent to be selected high, but the Lions already have three capable tight ends on their roster.