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I’m being intentionally vague here by not naming a specific position. The first Detroit Lions draft target should be an offensive lineman, or at the very least it should be the first group they look at. The offensive line has been a mess all season, from their lackluster attempts at run blocking to the bordering on homicidal attempts at blocking for their quarterback.
There are a lot of needs. Riley Reiff has done well at left tackle, though he’ll probably never be more than just okay. Larry Warford has right guard locked down, despite his sophomore slump. Beyond that? Everything is up for grabs.
The first target the Lions should look at is Iowa’s Brandon Scherff. Scherff’s draft stock varies wildly, with some viewing him as the second coming of Joe Thomas and others viewing him as nothing more than a guard playing tackle. It’s very possible that Scherff goes very early in the draft, but equally likely he falls a long way. He is a talented player, but more than that he is a mean, angry player that seems to try and destroy people every play. It’s rare that an offensive lineman is fun to watch, but he can be. Whether he’s drafted as a guard to replace Sims or a tackle to replace Waddle or Reiff (Who’d move inside), Scherff could be a day one starter for the Lions.
A.J. Cann is another likely target for the Lions in the first couple of rounds. The South Carolina Gamecock is a thickly built but quick footed guard who has shown enough versatility to play either side of the line if he needed. Adept as both a run and pass blocker, Cann is a vocal locker room presence for South Carolina whose personality, like current Lions starter Larry Warford, is drastically different on the field. Powerful and agile for a man of his size, Cann is the kind of player coaches pine for as fixtures on their lines.
If the team is unwilling to find a lineman early, they may look to add another multi-position lineman in the mid rounds. In that case, it’s likely they’ll be looking at Quinton Spain from West Virginia. Built similarly to Larry Warford, Spain isn’t quite the finished project that the Lions landed in the third round of 2014, but they may simply rely on established offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn to develop him over time. In that case, It’d be absolutely essential they pick up another veteran OL to play in the interim as Spain is not ready for prime time.