The NFL Draft is this week, and usually us Detroit Lions fans are discussing what we are going to do with our first round pick, and then get irate when the selection does not address any of the team’s needs. It’s almost tradition at this point. Well, not this year. As long as Lions GM Bob Quinn takes note of our biggest draft needs, and drafts accordingly, the Lions will be setup for a hundred years of success. Without further adieu, we present to you the Detroit Lions biggest draft needs of 2017 (in increasing order of importance).
5. Tight end
First thing, right off the bat, if you believe the Lions need to draft a tight end in the first round, get examined. As much as I don’t like Eric Ebron, he is still an above average tight end in the NFL, and even if the Lions weren’t interested in signing him long term, that doesn’t mean you spend another first round pick on a tight end trying to correct the first time you made that mistake. With that being said, the Lions probably shouldn’t ignore the position entirely, especially if there is uncertainty around Ebron’s future in Detroit. The Lions should look to fill this need in the middle rounds. Possible targets: David Njoku, Bucky Hodges, Evan Engram, Jake Butt, Michael Roberts.
4. Running back
I happen to think going into the season with the current crop of running backs we have would be a big mistake. Ameer Abdullah is explosive but unreliable. Theo Riddick is awesome out of the backfield when catching passes, but isn’t much of a factor running between the tackles, and Zach Zenner, for all the love he got last year, just isn’t good. The Lions ranked 30th in the league in rushing last year, and this draft’s crop of running backs is really strong. I am not opposed to picking a back in the first round if it is the right guy. We have seen what rookie running backs have been able to come in and do the past few seasons, and the Lions running game has long been absent. It is a must that Bob Quinn somehow, some way gets the Lions to have an at least respectable rushing attack. Possible targets: Dalvin Cook, Kareem Hunt, D’Onta Foreman, Joe Mixon, James Conner, Corey Clement, Samaje Perine.
3. Defensive end
One of the biggest issues for the Lions last season was their lack of a pass rush. Opposing quarterbacks had all day to throw the ball, and they were able to pick apart Detroit’s secondary at ease. In a division where Aaron Rodgers reigns supreme, getting after the quarterback is paramount if the Lions ever want to host a playoff game. Thankfully, this year’s class is loaded with talent along the edge, and most mock drafts have the Lions taking a defensive end very early. Possible targets: Taco Charlton, Derek Barnett, Charles Harris, Carl Lawson, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Daeshon Hall.
If you let DSN’s Paul Rochon tell it, “the Lions only have one corner that belongs on an NFL roster.” Thankfully for the Lions, that corner, Darius Slay, is one of the best shut down guys in the NFL. If the Lions are able to pair Slay with a bonafide stud on the outside playing on a rookie deal, that could be the biggest push in getting the Honolulu Blue to the next level. Much like defensive end, running back, and linebacker, the corner talent in this draft is just silly. If the Lions elect not to take a cover man with their first round selection, there should still be some excellent options in the second round. One thing is for sure, though. While the Lions might be better than they have been in the secondary in year’s past, there still needs to be major improvement, and this is the draft class to get it. Possible targets: Sidney Jones, Kevin King, Teez Tabor, Cordrea Tankersley, Jourdan Lewis, Desmond King.
Get this. Last year, the linebackers for the Detroit Lions combined for zero interceptions, zero sacks, and zero forced fumbles. That’s almost impossible. It’s legitimately as if they weren’t even on the field. That is the Lions single biggest issue. We need playmakers. Oh, and of those zero playmakers the Lions had last year, they lost the only one who had even shown semblance of being good in the NFL when they made the tough and eventually right decision to cut DeAndre Levy. This, ideally, is the position I’m using the 21st overall pick on. We need somebody in the middle of the field that defenses have to prepare for. By the grace of all that is holy, this draft is rich with top end linebacker talent, and the Lions should be able to get their hands on anyone of the top guys. Possible targets: Reuben Foster, Zach Cunningham, Haason Reddick, Jarrad Davis.