2024 ESPN mock draft has Detroit Lions going surprising direction in first round

With other needs that seem more obvious, a new 2024 ESPN mock draft has the Detroit Lions going in a surprising direction in the first round.
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A lot of Detroit Lions fans don't want to hear about 2024 mock drafts yet, which is fine. But they are out there, and sometimes they are worth covering. ESPN's Matt Miller has a fresh 2024 mock out this week, with the Lions sitting at No. 26 overall in the first round.

If we were listing the Lions' draft needs for 2024 right now, defensive tackle, cornerback and maybe offensive guard would probably be the top three, pending free agency results. Edge rusher would probably land high too. Otherwise, adding depth in some spots will be in order.

With that 26th overall pick, Miller has the Lions taking LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr.

"The Lions drafted a running back (Jahmyr Gibbs) and linebacker (Jack Campbell) in Round 1 back in April, but let’s get them back to adding premium positions with early picks with a talented wide receiver,” Thomas can play opposite Amon-Ra St. Brown as a 6-foot-4 red-zone target. He has 60 catches — with 15 scores — while averaging 18 yards per reception this season, and he’d be a physical mismatch for Jared Goff and the offense.”

2024 NFL Draft: Lions take LSU WR Brian Thomas Jr. in first round of ESPN mock

Thomas has had a breakout season this year at LSU, with 60 receptions for 1,079 yards (18 yards per catch) and 15 touchdowns as a prominent target for Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels.

At first glance, the Lions using first-round draft capital on a wide receiver might feel like a negative referendum on Jameson Williams by Miller. But even if Williams fully emerges down the stretch this season, the Lions could use another piece at the position. Thomas is raw, but he's big (6-foot-4, 6-foot-5, 200 pounds or so) and fast, and can extend to pluck the ball out of the air.

The Lions could go any direction with what's in line to be a late first-round pick in April. A wide receiver could be the proverbial "best player available."


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