Detroit Lions 2015 NFL Draft: Four Needs and Wants to Remember This Week


Beleive it or not, it’s nearly time for the Detroit Lions to welcome a cast of new rookies to town, as the 2015 NFL Draft will take place later this week and over the weekend.

Heading into every draft period, teams are faced with the ever-present paradox of the need and the want. The balance in those decisions can create some definite stress during and after the selections are made, so it’s always important to clarify which positions constitute needs and wants.

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Fortunately, the cases seem pretty clear-cut for Detroit. How should the Lions go about their 2015 draft? Much of that stems from how they view their own needs and wants. Here’s how that breakdown should look.

Need 1: Defensive tackle. It’s been obvious for some time that regardless of the fact that Detroit managed to deal for Haloti Ngata and sign Tyrunn Walker that the team would be in the market for a young defensive tackle. Considering the loss in production of Ndamukong Suh and the age of Ngata, it’s arguably Detroit’s biggest need this draft season, and something which could be addressed within the first two rounds.

Want 1: Wide receiver. Contrary to popular belief, the Lions don’t need another wide receiver early on. With Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, an improving Corey Fuller, a trio of tight ends who should be difference makers in addition to backs capable of catching passes, there’s plenty of players to catch the football, meaning Detroit should avoid the temptation to go with a pass catcher early. The Lions can take a receiver in the middle or late rounds to help, but should not allocate early resources to doing so, no matter what trouble the offense had in 2014. Teams have won with far less talent at receiver than Detroit currently features.

Need 2: Running back. When the Lions elected to let Reggie Bush walk and passed on signing a runner on the open market, they sent some pretty clear signals that finding a younger runner would be a major priority, and it is. The only question seems to be when it will happen. Will the Lions elect to select a Melvin Gordon, Todd Gurley or Ameer Abdullah early on, or will they roll the dice in the middle rounds with a player like Jeremy Langford or Duke Johnson? There’s no shortage of options.

Want 2: Cornerback. The Lions got some good news when Rashean Mathis came back in free agency. Additionally, they have a rapidly developing Darius Slay, and expect to get contributions from a healthy Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson in addition to the recently signed Josh Wilson. The numbers alone suggest the Lions don’t necessarily need a cornerback quickly this year, but could always want one for depth and safety’s sake. Unless Trae Waynes were to fall, cross the position off the list in round one.

The Lions can take a receiver in the middle or late rounds, but should not allocate early resources to doing so.

Need 3: Offensive line. Given the release of center Dominic Raiola, the uncertainty swirling around veteran guard Rob Sims and the legal trouble that Rodney Austin has found, it’s likely the Lions will need to add bodies along the offensive line. With Riley Reiff, Travis Swanson, LaAdrian Waddle and Larry Warford, they’ve built a solid young nucleus lately, and likely need one more player to help in the overhaul and put them over the top. Expect this to be addressed fairly early during the draft this season.

Want 3: Defensive end. The Lions dealt away George Johnson to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the fact is, they still come from a position of strength at end considering Ziggy Ansah is a mainstay, Jason Jones can flash on the outside, and youngsters like Devin Taylor and Larry Webster are expected to make great strides. Detroit might want to add a sampling of depth at the positions in the late rounds, but they don’t necessarily need to do so early on or make it a priority over other spots.

Need 4: Returner. Yes, the impact of the kickoff has been severely limited in past years, but that hasn’t stopped Detroit’s return game from being among the most pathetic and embarrassing in the NFL. Detroit could use a player capable of helping them at receiver to also man the punt return and kick return duties, helping them kill two birds with one stone. There’s no sense risking the health of Tate in the return game when the Lions could get a slashing rookie to take over the role.

Want 4: Kicker. Given the Lions re-signed Matt Prater, there’s no reason for them to consider a collegiate kicker at all this season. That hasn’t stopped them from taking a look at Notre Dame’s Kyle Brindza, who figures to be one of the top prospects at the position. The fact is, the visit was likely a courtesy to a local prospect, and taking a specialist isn’t realistic. Prater’s the kicker, and Sam Martin has assumed the punting and kickoff role despite a few notable mistakes. The Lions can cross the kicker bridge again when Prater’s contract runs out, meaning there isn’t a fit for Brindza or anyone else.

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