4 players Detroit Lions should've drafted at No. 126 instead of Giovanni Manu

The Lions definitely reached for Giovanni Manu, and here are four players they should have drafted instead at pick No. 126.
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2. DE Austin Booker

Booker started his college career at Minnesota, redshirting in 2021 then barely playing in 2022. So he transferred to Kansas, and got his opportunity. He took full advantage of it too, finishing with eight sacks, 56 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles last season.

Booker was well-regarded by draft evaluators for his length, motor, agility, change of direction and how he finishes plays. He definitely could stand to add some bulk (240 pounds), and he is fairly raw due sheerly to playing what amounts to one year of college football. He probably would have benefitted from another year in college.

That said, Booker has the traits to become a real difference maker in the NFL. That he went to the division rival Chicago Bears at pick 144, later in the fourth round, could ultimately really sting the Lions.

1. S/RB Sione Vaki

Yes, the other player Detroit traded up for in the fourth round of the 2024 draft makes the list. To go up to pick 132 and get Vaki, the Lions gave up picks No. 164 and No. 201 this year, along with a fourth-rounder in 2025.

The Lions see Vaki as a running back and immediate contributor on special teams. He can also play safety, and may see some time there as well in certain packages Aaron Glenn deploys. In any case, he'll see the field right away, likely in multiple capacities.

Holmes summed out what the Lions like about Vaki rather well, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

"He’s a football player that plays football like how we like it," Holmes said.

The Lions clearly liked Vaki and were willing to do what it took to make sure they got him. It's hard to see what the difference of six picks was in that regard, over Manu, other than the other team they were doing a deal with. Giving up a third-round pick in 2025 to get Vaki, and not Manu, would look way better right now.

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