5 players the Detroit Lions could trade up for in first round of 2024 NFL Draft

If the Detroit Lions want to trade up on Thursday night, who might be on their radar?
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2. Laiatu Latu, Edge, UCLA

A neck injury in 2020 and two missed seasons forced Latu to medically retire in 2021, as doctors at the University of Washington would not clear him. He was cleared by a doctor, then he transferred to UCLA and was cleared to play by their doctors in 2022. He became a first-round pick playing for the Bruins.

Latu had 10 sacks in his first year at UCLA, then bested that with 13.5 sacks last year. He tallied 34 tackles for loss over those two seasons. Last season, he also had two interceptions. Last season, he posted the best overall (96.3), pass rush (94.3) and coverage (94.8) grades from Pro Football Focus among college edge rushers.

The medical concerns on Latu, according to Schrager, have teams split on him in the hours before the draft. ESPN's Adam Schefter further suggested Latu would be the top pick in this draft if not for the medical red flags related to the previous neck injury.

The only game Latu missed over two seasons at UCLA was the bowl game he skipped to prepare for the draft. So the injury concern may be overblown, and the Lions have not been afraid to take risks on prospects with injury concerns of some level (see Jameson Williams in 2022).

1. Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Over his final three seasons at Toledo, Mitchell had 45 pass breakups, with 37 over the last two seasons as he advanced himself as an NFL prospect each year. More interceptions might have been nice to see last season (one), but those can be very random. Case in point: he had five interceptions in 2022, with two pick-sixes.

Mitchell was Pro Football Focus' No. 1-graded cornerback in 2022 and 2023, with top-end marks in coverage and solid overall marks beyond that. Over those two seasons, he allowed just 56 receptions on 140 total targets in his coverage with 36 forced incompletions (per PFF). He has ideal size (6-foot, 195 pounds) and plenty of athleticism (9.80 Relative Athletic Score). Concerns about his level of competition in college were assuaged by his good week at the Senior Bowl, and he had a outstanding showing at the NFL Combine (4.33 40-yard dash, etc).

Mitchell may be the first cornerback drafted, with Arnold as his best competition for that honor. If the Lions are eyeing a trade up on Thursday night, the MAC product should be high on their list of targets.

Next. 5 local prospects the Detroit Lions may take in the 2024 NFL Draft. 5 local prospects the Detroit Lions may take in the 2024 NFL Draft. dark