Enough listening to what everyone would do with their teams’ first-round pick, let’s try to figure out what the Lions themselves would do.
What myself, you, or even the Twitter GM’s think the Detroit Lions should do with their franchise changing third-overall pick in Thursday’s draft really doesn’t matter. Only what general manager Bob Quinn and staff decide. So focusing on the early first-round selection for the Lions, I did my best to guesstimate what their Top-15 draft board looks like.
In theory, a team should lean on their draft big board to make the picks for at least the first round and take away room for any last-second lapses of judgment. A friendly reminder, this is not a player ranking based on talent. But rather the order of players I believe the team would draft based on needs, scheme fit, etc.
1) Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
I’m betting Young at No. 1 is the case for most teams. Even for the Lions where he isn’t a perfect scheme fit or need. The Lions’ weakest link last season was their ineffective pass-rush, yes.
But one of their biggest contracts is EDGE rusher Trey Flowers, who already plays the one and only true defensive end position in the Lions base three-down defensive front. I believe if a player like Young falls in your lap you work around him though, not the other way around.
2) Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
This is strictly about value, you don’t pass up an asset like Burrow because you have a less valuable, albeit more talented asset in Matthew Stafford playing the same position. This kid just put together the greatest season a collegiate quarterback ever has, you take him and figure out the rest later.
3) Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
From what we’ve seen so far in Detroit and his days in New England, Matt Patricia values coverage over rush players. And from the press-cover skills, sound technique, willingness to tackle … Okudah is exactly what the Loins look for in a cornerback.
4) Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
Like Okudah, Brown fits what the Lions do at his position perfectly. Brown can be a one or two-gap player and contrary to what you might have heard, he’s a plus in pass-rush with a great get-off.
5) Isaiah Simmons, S/LB, Clemson
I see Simmons as more of a defensive back in the NFL rather than a linebacker. I say defensive back because I believe he’ll play outside corner as well as safety. I don’t want to hear how the Lions don’t like fast players or small linebackers … Patricia would know exactly how to the most out of Simmons. Just a matter of where.
6) Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Lions love them some Iowa talent, and Iowa loves pushing out great offensive line talent. Wirfs played primarily right tackle at Iowa and wasn’t as impressive at left. But that’s ok because a right tackle is just what the Lions need. Yes, even after the guard-tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai signing.
7) Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
What I just said about Wirfs can be said about Wills besides Wills never played left tackle at Alabama. Was Wills at right and not left because he was blocking for a left-handed quarterback? We’ll see.
8) CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
It’s been well documented that the Lions don’t have a wide receiver signed past 2020. I really don’t think they go wide-out in the top-10, but it’s hard to keep players over Lamb on the board at this point.
9) Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
I don’t think the Lions would be 100 percent against taking their future quarterback if the perfect opportunity presented itself, like Burrow at third overall. But Tua isn’t that guy for them with his massive injury risks and the Lions current state of affairs.
The only reason I think Tua would be even this high is for the value. Tua isn’t expected to play his rookie year and NFL general managers get very desperate for an injection of life into their franchise … you can’t convince me one team wouldn’t pay a ransom for Tua sooner than later.
10) Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Thomas, our first true left tackle hasn’t been getting the spotlight in this year’s draft but he’s been a very good tackle in the SEC for four years now. Taylor Decker hasn’t shown to be a top third of the league option, so his future with the Lions isn’t a guarantee.
11) Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
With the consensus top four tackles in the class, it really comes down to what you value at the position as they all have different strengths and weaknesses. If you love BIG tackles who can move, Becton is probably your guy. Like Thomas, Becton can also play left or right tackle, making him a Decker replacement candidate.
12) Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Wide receiver will be a major need for Detroit real soon, you might not find one as talented as Ruggs with his speed in a long time. Very high ceiling.
13) Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
While Jeudy isn’t as fast as his Alabama teammate in Ruggs, he does everything else better. Both Lamb and Jeudy come about as pro-ready as you’ll find. Very high floor.
14) Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina
I’m higher on Kinlaw than what I think the Lions are even though defensive tackle is a position of need. The problem is Kinlaw is more of a gap-penetrating pass-rusher than a big two-gap run-stuffing DT. That’s a bit de-valued with the Lions under Patricia as they like to generate pressure with LB’s and keep a heavier DL.
15) A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Epenesa’s stock fell a bit after some of the poor athletic measurables at the combine. But for the Lions, he what they’re looking for off the EDGE. A powerful pass-rusher who set the edge or dip inside when needed.