Detroit Lions NFL Draft: 1st Round Defense
Little may argue that the Detroit Lions got better this offseason, and that was mostly on the offensive side of the ball. They upgraded both their run and pass blocking by adding offensive linemen Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang (both upgrades over Reiff and Wafford) and by adding one of the best blocking tight ends in the league in Darren Fells. Let’s just say Matthew Stafford is one happy guy. While that’s awesome and it makes the Lions better next season, the saying, “defense wins championships,” has been around for decades for a reason.
It’s not like the Lions have completely neglected the defense in free agency. They have added some solid role players such as: linebacker Paul Worrilow, defensive tackle Akeem Spence and cornerback D.J. Hayden but none of those guys are going to be difference makers on the Lions 18th ranked defense last season. Let’s also not forget they cut Deandre Levy, so it’s safe to say that the defensive side of the ball in Detroit is in need of some playmakers. The only other place to get them is through the draft.
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The two biggest needs that the Detroit Lions should address this year in the first round are at linebacker and defensive end. In my opinion, the biggest need in the draft for the Lions is at linebacker. If I were the Detroit Lions General Manager I would target Reuben Foster who won’t be there (but if he is you HAVE to take him) or Haason Reddick. Reddick is a 6’1″, 237 pound thoroughbred who tore up the combine with a 4.52 forty yard dash, 36.5 inch vertical, all while bench pressing 225 pounds twenty-four times.
I know what you are thinking: He’s a good athlete but he played in mid-major conference at Temple. Is spending a first round pick on him worth it? The answer is hell yes! He’s had 35.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks in the last two years and NFL scouts are comparing him to Ryan Shazier (he’s a stud). Reddick is the playmaking linebacker that the Lions have been missing since Deandre Levy got injured two seasons ago, so if he’s available at the Lions 21st-pick, Bob Quinn will have to take him.
The second most important task for the Lions is to find another defensive end to complement Ziggy Ansah. There are a couple of absolute can’t miss prospects in Miles Garrett and Solomon Thomas (won’t be around at 21). 2nd-tier prospect Derek Barnett probably won’t be around but if he is you have to take him. But the prospect that I think Bob Quinn has his eyes on is Michigan’s own Taco Charlton. Taco is a big and fast D-End that would make the Lions pass rush and run defense better immediately. The 6’6″ 277 pound freak has been ascending up the draft boards throughout the off-season. Now Charlton is firmly planted in the 15-25 pick range and for good reason.
While his production didn’t explode like it probably should have in college, he did steadily improve year to year and ending his senior season with 13.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Not only does he have the coolest name in this draft, he also is getting praise from the scouts at NFL.com, who call him a, “High-impact defensive end with all-pro potential is his ceiling. “His floor is solid starter.” That alone should have Detroit Lions fan’s sold that Taco is worth the 21st pick in this draft.
Don’t Reach Bobby
For the love of God Bob Quinn, please select one of these prospects mentioned above in the fist round. If none of them are available, trade back and stockpile picks. Obviously you want to spend a first round pick on a defensive playmaker. But there is no need to try to force a prospect when you can trade back and get another guy you like just as much. That will help you gain more opportunities to get more defensive playmakers later in the draft.
While this article was just about first round picks, there are plenty of good players on the defensive side of the ball that are going to go in round two and even in round three. So Bob, do the all the Detroit Lions fan’s a favor and don’t draft offense until at least day three.