The 2014 NFL Draft really is tomorrow. The wait is nearly over and that’s not a smokescreen. Here is the important info to know as we find out who the Detroit Lions will add to the mix.
First Round: Thursday, May 8, 8 p.m. ET
Second and Third Rounds: Friday, May 9, 7 p.m. ET
Fourth through Seventh Rounds: Saturday, May 10, 12 p.m. ET.
Detroit Lions 2014 Draft Picks
No. 10 (first round)
No. 45 (second round, 13th pick)
No. 76 (third round, 12th pick)
No. 111 (fourth round, 11th pick)
No. 133 (fourth round compensatory, 33rd pick)
No. 136 (fourth round compensatory, 36th pick)
No. 189 (sixth round, 13th pick)
No. 227 (seventh round, 12th pick)
Lions Top Draft Needs
Wide Receiver – The Lions signed Golden Tate but the plan all along has been to add one receiver in free agency and another through the draft. The Lions may end up with two out of this draft considering its depth at the position, but one will surely be picked by the team on day one or two.
Linebacker – With the Lions shifting in defensive philosophy, the team needs to add a linebacker who can rush the passer. Khalil Mack could be a round one target via a trade up the board while many have speculated that Anthony Barr could be the guy if they stay put at ten. Kyle Van Noy has been a popular round two mock draft pick for the Lions if a linebacker ins’t the pick in round one.
Cornerback – The uncertain health of Chris Houston makes cornerback a bigger priority. The Lions still have to fully find out what they have in young corners Bill Bentley, Jonte Green, Chris Greenwood and Darius Slay, but they could use the insurance if the value is right.
Safety – James Ihedigbo can lock down a starting spot for 2014 but he isn’t a long-term solution at safety. That has made Ha Ha Clinton-Dix a popular mock draft pick for the Lions with the tenth pick but some consider that a reach. Terrence Brooks, Deone Bucannon, Brock Vereen or Jimmie Ward could be options outside of round one.
Center – Dominic Raiola is back after having one of the best seasons of his career but how much longer will he play? Now is the perfect time to plan for the future so that the Lions’ center of the future can learn from the Lions’ center of the present.
Kicker – Could the Lions solidify their kicker position through the draft like they did at punter last year? That’s a definite possibility.
The Wild Cards
Martin Mayhew‘s drafts can’t be discussed without mentioning a “best player available” strategy. While the Lions have needs for next year, the Lions will look to keep an eye on the big picture to maximize the potential for long-term success. That means the Lions’ first pick may not be at a position considered a need. This “wild card” has to be considered when discussing what the Lions might do.
I see three “wild card” directions the Lions could take with their first round pick:
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina – The Lions re-signed Brandon Pettigrew and seem to have found a solid contributor in Joseph Fauria but that hasn’t stopped them from showing interest in Eric Ebron. He’s more of a modern tight end in that he will line up split wide more than he’ll play in-line. If the Lions go in this direction, think about their need at wide receiver more than what they already have on the roster at tight end.
Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt – The Lions are solid at defensive tackle for 2014 with Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and C.J. Mosley but what happens in 2015 is less clear. It is assumed Suh will sign an extension to remain with the team but the Lions have already declined Fairley’s option and Mosley is also coming into the last year of his contract.
An Offensive Tackle – If the Lions get stuck at ten and one of the three elite tackle prospects – Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan – fall to them, that could be the pick despite the presence of Riley Reiff and LaAdrian Waddle already on the roster. Reiff was serviceable in his first full year as the Lions’ left tackle but he doesn’t have elite potential. Rob Sims is entering a contract year and drafting a left tackle with elite upside now means that Reiff could slide inside in 2015. That likely means Waddle moves to a backup role in 2014 but he is more of a pleasant surprise than a proven commodity at this point and depth is not a bad thing.
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