There are plenty of different ways that the draft could shake out, and also plenty of holes that need to be filled on this version of the Detroit Lions roster. With any luck, the player that they select with their first pick will be a big time difference maker. But, there are also plenty of players who will be available when Detroit steps up to the podium for pick #35, and one in particular who really stands out in my eyes: A.J. Epenesa
All positions on the defensive line were of concern last season. Between the defensive ends and defensive tackle positions, they combined for a total of of 13 sacks for the season. The defense averaged 115.9 rushing yards against per game (21st best in the league), and a league-worst 284.4 passing yards per game. A large amount of the issue in the passing game is due to the fact that they were plain and simply not able to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Epenesa looks to be exactly the type of the player the Lions could get with their second round pick who could alleviate some of these issues. During his three year career with the Iowa Hawkeyes, he racked up a total of 26.5 sacks in 37 games, as well as 101 tackles and nine forced fumbles.
Although his numbers during college were outstanding, a recent report has stated that there may be some concerns as to his overall athletic ability, stating that “Epenesa could fall out of the first round as many of the concerns that scouts had for him in regards to his athletic upside were confirmed.”
Personally, I’ve always thought that the metrics measured at the draft can be helpful. But, at the end of the day, a person’s results speak quite loudly as well. Epenesa was a nightmare on the field for opposing offenses, and he plays a position that the Lions are in dire need of improving. If I’m the Lions, I may just be sprinting to the podium to draft Epenesa if he is still available at pick number 35.
–Quote from Andrew Freeman from 24/7 Sports—