Free agency is well underway and the Detroit Lions have been one of the most active teams in the league. They have added an edge rusher (Trey Flowers), a tight end (Jesse James), and a nickel cornerback who could end up lining up on the outside (Justin Coleman).
That being said, the Lions still have plenty of needs and the 2019 NFL Draft presents a golden opportunity for Bob Quinn to improve the roster.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what the Detroit Lions 2019 ‘Perfect’ NFL Draft would look like.
Round 1, Pick 8
Ed Oliver (DL) Houston
As we speak, the defensive line is one of the Detroit Lions’ biggest strengths. That being said, the more I watch film on Ed Oliver, the more I think he will be a perennial Pro Bowl player at the NFL level. If the Lions add Oliver at No. 8, they would have one of the best defensive lines in football.
NOTE: I am still counting on the Lions signing free agent linebacker Zach Brown!!! If they do not, LB could be the pick in Round 1. If that is the case, I would prefer the Lions trade back into the middle of the first round and take Devin Bush Jr.
From The Draft Network:
CONS: Cheats his assignment at times. Gets upfield in a hurry and can sometimes widen his gap as a result. Doesn’t have great length and will get chest-to-chest with opponents at times. Repertoire of moves could be deeper. Wins more with athletic ability and raw power than refined hand usage. Will spin to get off blocks at times, turning his back to the line of scrimmage. Rumors are he plays at sub-280, which could concern teams projecting him out against better/bigger competition.
Ed Oliver played the nose in a 3-4 and still gets pressure vs 3 blockers. His ceiling is as high as it gets and I hope he goes to a team that will be creative with him.#EdOliver pic.twitter.com/pU1Yumn5YV
— John Chapman (@JL_Chapman) March 23, 2019
Round 2, Pick 11 (43 overall)
David Long (CB) Michigan
The Lions currently have Darius Slay locking down one side of the field but after that, there is not much to call home about. Adding another formidable CB to the mix (allowing Coleman to cover the slot) could work wonders for a Lions defense that absolutely must improve in 2019.
In my last mock, I had the Lions taking CB Justin Layne out of Michigan State in the third round. Since then, I have not been able to get Michigan CB David Long out of my head. His measurables are flat out amazing and his ability to shut down EVERYBODY in college cannot be overlooked. Originally, I was hoping the Lions could grab either Layne or Long in the third round but if they want Long (or even Layne), they will have to pounce in Round 2.
David Long only allowed a reception every 32.8 snaps in coverage, which easily led B1G cornerbacks. His coverage numbers are ABSURD: 9 catches allowed ALL SEASON on 31 targets for only 42 total yards. 😱 pic.twitter.com/00ixej3Dmo
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 24, 2019
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 24, 2019
Not many CBs calmly ran with DJ Moore last year… David Long has a solid press man resume
Long has footwork issues at times but shown speed to recovery and knack for finding the ball – two traits that will allow CBs to ‘live another down’ pic.twitter.com/Pfzktyw16I
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 19, 2019
Round 3, Pick 25 (88 overall) — From Philadelphia
Jace Sternberger (TE) Texas A&M
Though the Lions signed free-agent TE Jesse James, they still need a playmaking TE who can stretch the field.
Enter Jace Sternberger out of Texas A&M. Sternberger has the ability to go vertical or to run routes to the chains. Matthew Stafford needs a tight end who he can rely on in the passing game and Sternberger will give him exactly that. Now, the downside of Sternberger is that he is not the greatest blocker, which means he could be off of the field in short-yardage situations.
Jace Sternberger making dank catches in traffic. How are more people not talking about this guy? pic.twitter.com/wcr1O0hbs7
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) March 17, 2019
— PFDZ (@PFDZ44) March 20, 2019
Round 4, Pick 8 (111 overall)
Andy Isabella (WR) UMass
I have been all over Andy Isabella since Senior Bowl week started and the rest of the nation has hopped on the bandwagon. One of Bob Quinn’s biggest jobs this offseason will be to replace Golden Tate and Isabella is the man for the job. Not only his he extremely fast but he runs efficient routes that allow him to get the separation he needs. There is no doubt in my mind that Isabella would be the perfect weapon for Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ offense. The only problem is that rather than waiting until the 5th Round, the Lions will likely have to take him in the fourth since the hype is high.
At the NFL Combine, Isabella showed that he has elite speed as he turned in a 4.31 40-yard dash time.
From The Draft Network:
Andy Isabella is a player who has a much more prominent pathway to NFL success after the rule changes in recent seasons. A diminutive, non-physical player, Isabella wins with quickness and thrives in space. His best role would be as a slot/depth option on a team that looks to space the field and isolate their athletes one on one. Passing systems like the ones in KC and SF come to mind as specific favorable fits.
Andy Isabella @AndyIsabella5 from @UMassFootball is one of the fastest and quickest receivers in this years draft. He’s gonna be dangerous in the NFL. Check out this play at @FootballUGA . Isabella gets behind the defenders, makes a few moves and gets the score pic.twitter.com/xkFlCaFDRP
— Anthony Pupo (@anthonypupo_94) March 17, 2019
Round 5, Pick 8 (146 overall)
Karan Higdon (RB) Michigan
In 2018, the Lions used a 2nd round pick on Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson and other than a late-season injury, the move panned out beautifully. That being said, Lions GM Bob Quinn believes in keeping his RBs fresh and you can bet he will look at adding one in the draft.
Karan Higdon out of Michigan would be a beautiful addition to the Lions if he is available in the 5th round. He absolutely killed it at the NFL Scouting Combine and he has what it takes to have a nice NFL career.
From The Draft Network:
Karan Higdon will bring explosiveness to an NFL backfield. He projects most favorably to a gap/power rushing offense, as many of his chunk plays at the college level came behind such concepts. Higdon shows some nice patience pressing through the LOS and his second level acceleration will enable him to create gashes in the defense, but only if and when his line is able to create consistent creases and holes up front. Won’t grind for yards by himself.
Official Visit Michigan RB Karan Higdon on a similar concept that PHI utilized w/Jay Ajayi – pic.twitter.com/8KR0YGF1vS
— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) March 17, 2019
Round 6, Pick 11 (184 overall)
T.J. Edwards (LB) Wisconsin
When we start getting to the 6th and 7th rounds, the hope is to find a diamond in the rough and that is exactly what I believe LB T.J. Edwards out of Wisconsin could end up being.
Edwards is extremely smart on the football field and he rarely makes mental mistakes. Though he will have a tough time in pass coverage out of the gates, Edwards makes up for it with his tackling ability.
Round 6, Pick 32 (204 overall) — From New England
Jordan Ta’amu (QB) Texas A&M
Matthew Stafford is the Detroit Lions quarterback and he will be the Detroit Lions quarterback for the foreseeable future. As we speak, former Michigan State QB Connor Cook is penciled in as Stafford’s backup but you can bet that Bob Quinn will be looking for a developmental quarterback.
One quarterback who could slide to Day 3 is Jordan Ta’amu out of Ole Miss. Ta’amu may not have the perfect NFL build for an NFL QB but he is a high character guy who gets the job done on the field. Will Ta’amu be available in Round 6? Maybe. If he is, the Lions had better snag him immediately.
From The Draft Network:
In a league that covets quarterbacks with tools and character, it’s befuddling to me why Ta’amu is receiving zero attention while quarterbacks with all kinds of flaws are being billed as Round 1 candidates. I’m not suggesting we put Ta’amu in their conversation, I’m suggesting we put them into his conversation. And keep him in that conversation.
The odds of Ta’amu becoming a franchise quarterback are slim – like almost every other quarterback in this class. But if you’re looking for upside and a lot of the baseline traits needed to be a successful signal caller in the NFL, Ta’amu might be exactly what you need, and you might not need to spend more than a day three pick to get him.
Round 7, Pick 10 (224 overall)
Delvon Randall (S) Temple
When we get down to the 7th Round of the NFL draft, we are really just throwing darts. No. 1, who knows which players will be available and No. 2, of those available players, which ones will the Lions have on their draft board. That being said, safety Delvon Randall is a guy the Lions could move on if he is still available when they make their first of two 7th Round picks.
From The Draft Network:
Size and strength are pro-ready. Has shown the ability to man multiple roles in Temple secondary. Widely regarded within the program as a top-notch communicator and leader. Played through a myriad of injuries last season, which did seem to impact him on the field.
Mostly a sure tackler, shows good form to wrap and drive through contact. Sifts through trash well around the box in run defense. When he brings it, no issue getting runners on the ground 1v1. Run support is inconsistent, but angles and body control are typically excellent when closing from distance.
Round 7, Pick 15 (229 overall) — From Miami
Malik Gant (S) Marshall
With Glover Quin out of the picture, you can bet the Lions will look to add a safety in the draft and as you can see, I have them taking two!
Gant is an extremely physical player who would surely start off on special teams but I would be surprised if he eventually works himself into the mix if he is selected by the Lions.