The Detroit Lions’ defense made strides in the right direction last season, but they were still under-achieving in the area that they invested the most resources, defensive line. The Lions have a solid young nucleus staring Ziggy Ansah, Ndamukong Suh, and Nick Fairley that is only going to get better, but adding a third down pass rusher who can drop back into coverage effectively on first and second down at linebacker might be what gets the defense over the top. There’s only one player in the 2014 draft class that fits that versatile profile in the first round and that’s Khalil Mack.
Notable Combine Measurables
Weight: 251 lb
40-Yd dash: 4.65 secs
225-lb bench press reps: 23
20-Yd shuttle: 4.18 secs
3-Cone drill: 7.08 secs
Broad jump: 128.0″
Traits and projected round
Mack is an immediate plug and play starter at linebacker who can play in 3-4 and 4-3 schemes thanks to his exceptional read and react skills. Having only played football since his senior year in high school, Mack should have a very high ceiling and has a chance to be the next great linebacker.
Linebackers like Mack don’t come around very often. Mack is a guaranteed top 10 pick with a slight chance to go in the top five. In the unlikely event that Mack slips all the way down to Detroit at 10, the Lions will have no problem deciding on what to do with their first round pick.
Why The Lions Could Draft Khalil Mack
Mack solves two needs for the Lions because he can play outside linebacker and a pass rushing defensive end on third down situations. That’s the kind of versatility new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is coveting and pairing Mack with Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, and Ziggy Ansah, would make for a dynamic front seven.
If the Lions drafted Mack they will have used their first round pick in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 on defensive front seven players. Should that be the case, there will be high expectations for the Lions defense from day one of the 2014 season.