Detroit Lions NFL Draft: Needs

Jan 1, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) puts his head down during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field. Packers won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) puts his head down during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field. Packers won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

“You build through the draft and supplement through free agency.” That is what Bill Belichick does and that’s what his disciple Bob Quinn has done so far in Detroit. Yes, Quinn has made a few big splashes in free agency. He signed Marvin Jones, the top receiver in free agency last season, a year ago to a 5-year, $40 million dollar contract. Bob also signed the top overall right tackle (Rick Wagner) and the best pass blocking right guard (T.J. Lang) to huge contracts this off-season. But that’s what Quinn does. He makes one or two big free agency pickups and then he adds depth with players that have starting experience and are also special team aces.

In the two off-seasons that Quinn has been with the Detroit Lions that is what he has done, and this allows him to take the best player available. Having depth and competition at every position allows the Lions to have flexibility if the board doesn’t go the way they expect it to go and allows them to trade down (which what I hope they do) or trade up because they don’t have one glaring need on the team. Ok, yes the Lions have plenty of needs, but with the way Quinn constructs his teams makes it where he doesn’t have to reach for a player at a certain pick.

Here is a look at the Lions’ needs and an analysis to what the depth on the team looks like and at draft options that I would like for them to target:

Draft Needs:


Currently on the team Tahir Whitehead, Paul Worrilow, Antwione Williams, and Nick Bellore

If the season started tomorrow, this linebacker unit would be by far the worst on the team. Tahir Whitehead was one of the worst linebackers in coverage last year. Paul Worrilow after having a couple of solid seasons back to back, last year he lost his starting job to a rookie. Antwione Williams was a rookie last year with limited playing time. And Nick Bellore has limited starting experience and is mostly a special teams player. There is not a single play-maker in this positional group. Linebacker needs to be drafted early (1st or 2nd round) and possibly even doubled up on later in the draft.

Position Urgency: 10/10

Defensive End:

Currently on the Team- Ziggy Ansah, Kerry Hyder, Cornelius Washington, Armonty Bryant, Anthony Zettle, and Brandon Copeland

There is only person at this position that will change the gameplans of teams the Lions play against. That’s Ziggy Ansah. Yes, Kerry Hyder and Cornelius Washington are solid depth/rotational pieces but Detroit NEEDS to have someone else with 10 sacks a season potential. This would take so much pressure off not only other members in the front seven, it would also take pressure off of the Lions secondary as well. Look for this position to be drafted very early. The only reason this positional group isn’t as big of a need as linebacker for the Lions in my book, is that Detroit has a difference-maker at this position (Ziggy Ansah) and the linebacker’s don’t have any.

Position Urgency: 9.5/10

Wide Receiver:

Currently on the Team- Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, T.J. Jones, Jace Billingsley, and Keshawn Martin

I’m sure you’re thinking about how earlier I said that the Lions fixed the offense with Marvin Jones, let me explain myself. After Calvin Johnson retired Bob Quinn went out in free agency and got the top receiver on the market to try to the great Megatron. Marvin Jones started off the season on fire and cooled off just as quickly, but he did show that he does have the talent to be a game changer. Detroit also has another very good receiver in Golden Tate but beyond those two they have basically nothing. But with a new and improved offensive line Detroit’s receivers should have a lot more time to get open, so look for Detroit to target this position from the 3-5th round and possibly even as high as the 2nd round.

Position Urgency: 8/10


Currently on the team Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson, D.J. Hayden, Johnson Bademosi, and Quandre Diggs

Wow, imagine that. The first 3 biggest needs on the Lions are on defense. So, the Lions haven’t done terribly on defense the last couple of years (18th last season), but with the Lions spending the last two free agency periods to fix the offense (Marvin Jones, Rick Wagner, and T.J. Lang) that bumps this positional group way up. Darius Slay is a baller. Beyond him, they have an undersized outside cornerback that has had 0 interceptions in a year and a half of starting (Nevin Lawson) and a former first round pick that did little to nothing in Oakland (D.J. Hayden). Lawson has tried his hardest to play opposite of Slay but he would probably be best served as a nickle corner, as would Hayden. So expect the Lions try to snag a cornerback in the 2nd-4th round so that they can nab a tall cover guy that can compete with Nevin Lawson for the starting outside corner spot across from Slay.

Position Urgency: 7.5/10

Defensive Tackle:

Currently on the team Haloti Ngata, A’Shawn Robinson, Akeem Spence, Khyri Thornton, and Jordan Hill

You may think this positional group may be rated too low for me, but here is why I believe this group isn’t as in dire need as others. The Lions have to solid, not great, but solid starting defensive tackles in Ngata and Robinson. Ngata is at the tail end of his career but still has some ability and he’s a leader on this defense. Robinson is coming into his sophomore season after a decent rookie year (he did have 7 swats from the line of scrimmage).  But if you have 2 solid starters and 2 solid back ups (Spence and Thornton) that knocks down the draft urgency at this position. Bob Quinn needs to go after a penetrating, athletic defensive tackle in rounds 3-5.

Position Urgency: 6/10

Tight End:

Currently on the Team- Eric Ebron, Darren Fells, and Cole Wick

Tight end is virtually tied with wide receiver my book as a need, with receiver having the slight edge. Eric Ebron is now finally starting to turn into the game-changer that they drafted and with the signing Darren Fells, one of the best run-blocking tight ends in the league, the Lions can afford to wait until later rounds to go after a tight end. Detroit needs a dual threat number 2 tight end that can both block and catch to help complement Ebron and Fells, so look for them address the tight end position in rounds 4-6.

Position Urgency: 5/10


Currently on the team Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, and Dwayne Washington

This is another position that others may believe that it needs to be higher but I do not. Don’t get me wrong if Fournette slips to 21 in the first round or Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey slip to-day 2 (not going to happen) then yes, please go up and draft a play-making running back in one of the first 2 rounds, but beyond that and a couple other circumstances, you have to go defense early and often in this draft especially. This is a very deep running back class and if you’re the Lions you have an exceptional running back when he’s healthy (Abdullah), arguably the best pass catching/3rd down back in the league (Riddick), and Zach Zenner who has proved on a couple of occasions that he can be effective, so there are plenty of other needs that I would address before I went running back. Running back should be picked, after other positional needs are filled, in the 5th-7th rounds

P.S. The new and improved right side of the offensive line and giving the young left side another year to improve should also help the running backs we do have to be better.

Position Urgency: 4/10


Currently on the team Glover Quinn, Tavon Wilson, Miles Killebrew, and Don Carey

The Lions have 1 Pro-Bowl caliber starter at free safety (Glover Quinn) and 2 solid strong safeties that could continue to improve with the more playing time they get. Both Wilson and Killebrew haven’t had that much playing time throughout their careers for different reasons. Early on in Wilson’s career, he got starting experience and then fell out of the favor of the coaching staff in New England. He played very solid for Detroit last season and expect him to have more confidence this season. Miles Killebrew was a 4th-round rookie out of Southern Utah so he was drafted as a bit of a project, but he’s always had the physical traits to be a very good safety with the more he gets acclimated to the NFL. Killebrew is going to get a lot more playing time this season since the Lions let Rafael Bush walk in free agency and because he showed such potential in 3rd down coverage last season. Detroit needs to draft a safety that can sit on the bench for a year and learn (behind Glover Quinn) in rounds 5-7.

Position Urgency:


What does this mean?

The Lions need to draft defense early and often in this year’s NFL draft. They have needs at every level on the defense and this draft could take a step in turning the Lions into playoff contenders year in year out. If you noticed there are 8 positions that I would like to see the Lions go after at least once in the draft and the Lions only have 8 picks. So if the Lions want to get more chances to upgrade different positions, then the Lions HAVE to trade backwards. If Detroit could trade back in one of the first two rounds (obviously don’t if Bob Quinn loves the players available there) and build up some middle-round depth, then that could help the Lions to maximize this draft which is deep in talent at positions of need for the Detroit Lions.

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