Jan 3, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Kony Ealy (47) during the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the 2014 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Missouri won 41-31. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Relatively speaking, it’s easiest for general managers to pick in the first round with their draft board set and plenty of slam dunks available. Most will agree that the second day, featuring the vital second and third rounds, is where the real test of scouting begins and rosters start to get rounded out.
The Detroit Lions selected Eric Ebron at pick 10, ignoring a defensive need in the minds of some. For those dissenters, there is a silver lining. Plenty of solid defensive players remain in the second round, and most could be available to the team when they pick 45th on Friday night. Who are some of the names to consider? Here’s a top five, with some additional thoughts.
1. Kyle Van Noy, OLB, Brigham Young. He’ll be Detroit’s new darling considering he fills a need at outside linebacker and also comes with the notable asset of being a personal friend of defensive end Ziggy Ansah from his BYU days. Van Noy is a solid player, and the type of selection which could help solidify Detroit’s defense at a very needy spot.
2. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri. Though Michael Sam generated all the headlines on and off the field in 2013 for the Tigers, Ealy was very productive creating turnovers, and could be the type of edge rusher that would look fantastic playing in Detroit with Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ansah. Ealy defended 13 passes and is long, perhaps making him favorable for the Lions.
3. Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota. For everyone who was craving an Aaron Donald selection in the first round where Ebron was selected, Hageman presents an interesting second chance opportunity. In the minds of many, he was a first round pick and is likely the second best defensive tackle in the draft. Does Detroit take a defensive tackle this high, though, knowing they have at least one more year of Fairley left?
4. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska. Want the next Richard Sherman to cover the likes of Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, Jordy Nelson and Cordarrelle Patterson in the NFC North? Jean-Baptiste could become the next version with his fantastic size (6’3″). The biggest question? Scheme fit. Usually under Martin Mayhew, Detroit has favored faster corners slicker in their moves, but the body is hard to ignore.
5. Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech. A raw talent who compares to Ansah given his raw yet powerful body, Attaochu has the tools to be a solid linebacker and fearsome pass rusher in the NFL. In college, he flashed at defensive end and linebacker, collecting 10 sacks for the Yellowjackets in 2012. Might he fit in as the hybrid 3-4 pass rusher Teryl Austin could covet?
Others: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt, Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame, Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame, Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State, Lamarcus Joyner, S/CB, Florida State.