2. S/CB Ifeatu Melifonwu
Melifonwu will always be known as the first draft pick the Lions had from the Matthew Stafford trade, third round (No. 101 overall) in the 2021 draft. After a rookie season where he missed a lot of time due to an injury (seven games played, four starts), he transitioned to safety last offseason as the Lions surveyed options to help out there.
Melifonwu played in 10 games last season, starting once at safety in place of an injured DeShon Elliott. He had some struggles that were easy to expect in his first meaningful action at a new position.
As much as the Lions’ free agent additions in the secondary pushed Jeff Okudah down the pecking order and eventually off the roster, in a lower-key way those moves did the same to Melifonwu. And he was already struggling to earn snaps, even on special teams. Any further additions to the secondary in the draft may very well lead to him being cut. Allowing him the opportunity to work through kinks and possibly realize his potential is not that palatable anymore.
1. WR Trinity Benson
Brad Holmes took to defending the 2021 trade for Benson for a time. But that time is gone, and the proof is in the pudding now–or the lack of pudding. The Lions brought Benson back last year after he was cut and the Denver Broncos had him on their practice squad, for some reason, then he played in one game before going on IR.
The Lions were somewhere in the market for a wide receiver in this draft before Jameson Williams was suspended for six games. It just might happen a round or two earlier now.
We know who the Lions’ locks for a roster spot already are at wide receiver–Amon-Ra St. Brown, Marvin Jones, Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond and Williams when he’s off his suspension. Tom Kennedy and/or Maurice Alexander will perhaps stick around on the practice squad, or on the back end of the 53-man roster during Williams’ suspension.
Drafting a wide receiver will, as a practical matter, push Benson off the Lions’ roster for good. And truly, it may not be necessary.