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Draft needs: Detroit Lions

A.J. Green AP

Looking at the Lions’ roster, they appear to have more talent than you’d expect for a team that has won just 11 games in the last two seasons. There are holes on this roster, but they’re not the kinds of gaping holes that will take years to fill. They’re more like the kinds of holes that can be filled with one good draft.

Detroit has all its picks except the fifth rounder (thanks to a bad decision to send a pick to Jacksonville in a trade for receiver Mike Thomas, who caught all of five passes before the Lions cut him), and the Lions also have two compensatory picks in the fourth round. Here’s a look at the positions they most need to address:

Cornerback: It seems like cornerback is a need for the Lions every year. When they were a good team in 2011, the cornerbacks’ inability to stop a good passing offense got them bounced out of the playoffs in New Orleans. When they were a bad team the last two years, the cornerbacks were a consistent problem.

The Lions have tried to address their cornerback issues in the draft, but without great results. They drafted cornerback Darius Slay in the second round last year and cornerback Bill Bentley in the third round two years ago, but they’ve both been inconsistent, and as of right now the projected starters at cornerback are a couple of older veterans, Chris Houston and Rashean Mathis.

If the Lions could draft a cornerback who can start immediately and upgrade the defense, that would make a huge difference. If they stay put at No. 10 in the first round, Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard could be an option. Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller (whose brother, Corey Fuller, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Lions last year) or Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert could also be options to address the Lions’ most glaring need.

Safety: The Lions’ two starters at safety, James Ihedigbo and Glover Quin, are reliable veterans who look like good fits in the defense run by new coordinator Teryl Austin, who previously coached Ihedigbo in Baltimore. But there’s not much depth behind Ihedigbo and Quin, and the Lions could use some depth, both for the sake of improving the secondary and because they’ve struggled in kick coverage, and young backup safeties are typically strong special teams players.

Some mock drafts have the Lions taking the best safety in the draft, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama, with the No. 10 pick. But it might make more sense for the Lions to address their need at safety later in the draft, with someone like Deone Bucannon of Washington State or Lamarcus Joyner of Florida State.

Kicker: We rarely list kickers among our draft needs, but it’s a real issue for Detroit, where the two kickers under contract (John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio) have combined to make three field goals in the NFL. Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew used a fifth-round pick on a punter last season, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him draft a kicker this season. Chris Boswell of Rice, who drilled 13 field goals of 50 or more yards during his college career, could be a late-round option. (In addition to those 50-yard field goals, Boswell kicked the sneakiest onside kick you’ll ever see.)

Quarterback: Matthew Stafford is firmly established as the Lions’ starting quarterback, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Detroit draft a young quarterback who can serve as a backup, and perhaps some day be groomed as a starter if the Lions’ front office decides that Stafford’s contract was an expensive mistake. The Lions probably wouldn’t look at a quarterback until Day Three of the draft, and among those who could be available then, keep an eye on Aaron Murray of Georgia, who visited the Lions and looks like a good fit for new coach Jim Caldwell’s offense.

Wide receiver: The Lions’ best player is receiver Calvin Johnson, and their biggest free agency signing this offseason was receiver Golden Tate. And yet Detroit might decide to draft a young receiver as well, someone who could take the field with Johnson and Tate in three-receiver sets. There’s been plenty of talk that the Lions are smitten with Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and want to move up to get him. That would be a huge move, and a move that the Lions may not have the ammunition to make. If you’re looking for a sleeper receiver the Lions may want to draft on Day Three, consider John Brown of Pittsburg State, who’s small but fast enough to make plays in the slot and as a return man.

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21 Responses to “Draft needs: Detroit Lions”
  1. thepftpoet says: Apr 25, 2014 4:14 PM

    Draft needs: everything except one wide receiver.

    #skol

  2. Norseman says: Apr 25, 2014 4:16 PM

    Detroit needs defensive secondary help up the whazoo, which means they’ll probably blow all their picks moving up to take Watkins or Clowney.

  3. bennyb82 says: Apr 25, 2014 4:20 PM

    Lions should trade Suh for a top 5 pick, draft Watkins, then draft a DB at their current spot.

  4. mortyglickstein says: Apr 25, 2014 4:26 PM

    aaaaaand this is why they will never be relevant with all their talent. Why are you even sniffing a receiver with Calvin Johnson?

  5. staffordcalvinbush says: Apr 25, 2014 4:29 PM

    I’m surprised there’s no mention of an OLB need. Ashlee palmer isn’t a starter in the NFL, which leaves the side opposite of Levy wide open. Last years draft was the most complete i’ve seen in years for Detroit. And that can be attributed to the signing of senior executive Brian Xanders.
    What I’m thankful is that we’re set in the trenches, the O line was great last season, and the D line is only getting better, as it’s composed of a bunch of young players.

    I’d love to see Detroit trade up, but for Khalil Mack, not Sammy Watkins. Tate is a great compliment to Calvin, and the Wide Receiver class has lots of depth.

  6. kwjsb says: Apr 25, 2014 4:33 PM

    What round can the Lions draft a heart for the team …

  7. weepingjebus says: Apr 25, 2014 4:44 PM

    The fact that that’s the “best” Lions picture in the entire PFT archives tells you everything you need to know.

  8. tavisteelersfan says: Apr 25, 2014 4:49 PM

    Can they draft some hard nosed discipline and focus?
    I really thought they should’ve gone after Coughlin before he signed that one year deal. A proven winner, and a no nonsense type that would guys attention and respect.
    I think Caldwell will do well with Stafford. I do not think he is what the doctor order for the Lions.

  9. lionsdraftguy says: Apr 25, 2014 5:36 PM

    Palmer is NOT that bad. Shows who really watches the games. He was taken out a number of times due to nickel package. Its just a matter of do we need a pass rushing LB. Palmer is fine, dont draft OLB at 10 unless they could get Mack, which is near impossible without a trade up.

  10. sandersmarcus10 says: Apr 25, 2014 5:45 PM

    Need to start fixing the back end of the D, they score with any team but they cant stop anyone pick a CB

  11. nightofthehipple says: Apr 25, 2014 5:57 PM

    If the Lions trade down in round 1 and perhaps even round two and pick up some extra picks in round three and four, they could actually address all of their needs and this is the draft to do it in!

  12. touchmyjohnsonandillsuh says: Apr 25, 2014 6:22 PM

    The 10 spot this year is really undesirable. Hard to put a finger on who the lions should pick there and I don’t see many teams wanting to trade into that spot. I’m just hoping one of the top studs slides down to us at ten or maybe we can find a sucker to trade with us for that 10 spot.

  13. seanx40 says: Apr 25, 2014 6:38 PM

    What round do they draft new ownership and management?

  14. National Fanatic says: Apr 25, 2014 6:57 PM

    Detroit has the worst group of line backers in the NFL. Draft C.J. Mosley!!!!

  15. James Myers says: Apr 25, 2014 7:03 PM

    Should be a really short article.

    “Lion’s Draft Needs : Trade Suh for picks. Roll dice.”

  16. ivanpavlov0000 says: Apr 25, 2014 7:36 PM

    Defensive backfield is the biggest issue. Opposing teams can pass all day and make big plays against the Lions’ secondary. The Lions need another safety and they need corners. An OLB would also be nice.

    The Lions offense is going to score points. The big problem is on defense. As long as the backfield stinks, the Lions won’t be in the playoffs.

  17. pc1976 says: Apr 25, 2014 8:27 PM

    Please, Caldwell don’t give up future years 1st round draft picks for some delusional idea we’re close to winning the sb.

    Just get Stafford (Flacco) to show he’s not very good, Bush (Rice) to show he’s over the hill, decide that Tate (Stokley!) is an adequate replacement for Burleson (Boldin (Burleson very good possession guy for Seahawks and Lions, but gets devalued due to age(& pizza delivery skills)))

    We will have a bottom 16 offense next season, but it will not be Caldwell’s fault. And this is the season where our schedule is very weak. Why did I become a Lions fan??

  18. bigbenrapedhinesward says: Apr 25, 2014 9:02 PM

    A wr in Sammy? And paying the price to move up to get him? Matt Millen is the boss no longer… Tho dysfunctional, detroits management has more sense then this whole idea. The gm must be loving the extended time before the draft to smoke screen like crazy though he just wants justin Gilbert to be there when they pick.

  19. motorcitydiddy says: Apr 25, 2014 9:55 PM

    Lions Draft Needs: A scouting dept.

  20. bassplucker says: Apr 25, 2014 11:32 PM

    As a Bears fan it is really hard for me to stomach drafting 4 spots behind a team that swept us last year. But it is what it is.

  21. staffordsyear says: Apr 25, 2014 11:55 PM

    Not much really, correct staffords mechanics and everything will be fine.

    Defense wins championships is a tired and untrue saying.

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