Detroit Lions: Fixing the defense via the 2019 NFL Draft
The Detroit Lions defensive line has been an area of concern. The 2019 NFL Draft offers help, so who are some names to know? Let’s take a look!
The Detroit Lions travel to South Beach this weekend to face the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are 4-2 and are tied for the AFC East lead with the New England Patriots. In a tight race, the Lions sit at the bottom of the NFC North, but just back a game.
With our current last-place rank in mind, here’s an early look at some of the available talent due to come out in 2019 along the defensive line.
Detroit Lions Defense
Kick in the Crotch Weekly has developed an unhealthy affinity for the NFL Draft due to the Lions’ perennial struggles. The Lions have had a rough start to their season, and much of their struggles have started on the defensive side of the ball.
The rushing defense is particularly horrible, but the pressure on opposing quarterbacks has not been great, either. Not only those areas, but overall linebacker play has been poor. The other issue is finding a running mate for Pro Bowl cornerback, Darius Slay. This week, we’ll focus on the line options likely to be available.
End and tackle
While the Lions overall have generated some sacks, many have come from the linebackers. Ezekiel Ansah, who is playing on a one-year franchise tender, has already missed multiple games but is the most athletic of our ends. At tackle, A’Shawn Robinson has not dressed for every game but has been more productive once re-inserted into the rotation.
Late addition, Ricky Jean-Francois has been a positive and rookie Da’Shawn Hand has played above his fourth-round price tag. This group still needs better depth and quality at the top, even if Hand continues to ascend the ranks and demand more playing time with his play.
I believe general manager, Bob Quinn, did think through the value of his 2018 picks and see that the 2019 crop of d-linemen was going to be much better than this past draft. It seems likely that Quinn will target a lineman early, but obviously, things can change between now and April.
I like to look at NFL draft Scout for a lot of basic information, including things like pro day and combine numbers. Here is a look at 2019 eligible players, that still includes players that entered the 2018 draft. Rob Rang, a writer for NFL Draft Scout, has three linemen at the top of his 2019 draft board currently. Of course, the Lions would have the number 10 pick if the season ended today.
Ed Oliver- DT, Houston: At 6-2, 290 pounds, he’s a wrecking ball. Rang compared him to Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams.
Nick Bosa-DE, Ohio St.: An injury kept him from playing, but he has left his team so that he can be ready for the draft. An excellent pass rusher, Bosa is a top ten type of pick if he’s healthy soon. He’s 6-4, 270 lbs., and very similar to his brother, Joey, who plays end for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Clelin Ferrell-DE, Clemson: Ferrell could’ve been a first-rounder last year, but chose to stay with his teammates. The 6-4, 260-pounder, has a motor and is trying to eclipse 9.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss (TfL) campaign. He has 6.0 sacks and eight tackles for loss so far this season.
Rashan Gary-DE, Michigan: A freak athlete, and former #1 prep player in the country, Gary is a Jersey boy who can play almost anywhere. Gary is 6-4, 280 pounds, and runs a 4.67 forty yard dash. He won’t be double and triple-teamed in the NFL, like he is at the University of Michigan, either. Gary could fit the bill very well.
Christian Wilkins-DT, Clemson: 6-3, 300 pounds, and another Clemson guy that was a first round pick if he left school in 2017.
However, there are options that may be available later in Round 1 if the Lions continue to improve.
Jerry Tillery-DL, Notre Dame: A 6-6, 305 lbs., player who has flashed big-time performances.
Quinnen Williams-DT, Alabama: Nick Saban runs a 2-gap system, which makes Williams a good scheme fit, and his 6-3, 295-pound frame, and being only a redshirt sophomore, gives him plenty of upside.
Montez Sweat-DE/OLB, Miss. St.: The 6-5, 240 lbs. Bulldog’s athlete is an edge player who can get to the quarterback. He has 17.5 sacks between last year and this half of a year.
Dexter Lawrence-DT/NT, Clemson: What’s with Clemson? Lots of quality linemen. Lawrence is a load at 6-3, 340-pounds, and can stuff the run. Might help …
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