PFF's top late draft fits for Lions invite another first round surprise

The Detroit Lions could take a cornerback early in the draft, but Pro Football Focus' later-round fits show they may not have to in order to find a good player at the position.
Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

The Detroit Lions are currently in the process of determining what path to take in the NFL Draft, and already, adding another cornerback seems like a slam dunk move

Detroit's pass defense struggled in 2023, finishing 27th in the league. That has led to top cornerback names being penciled in for mock drafts, especially in the first round. But it's a deep cornerback class this year, to the advantage of the Lions and any other team with a need at the position.

In terms of a Day 2 cornerback options for the Lions, Pro Football Focus' Dalton Wasserman identified Florida State's Renardo Green as a fit.

"Detroit ranked 30th in the NFL in coverage grade last season. They also run man coverage at a top-10 rate. Florida State’s Renardo Green is arguably the premier man coverage cornerback in this class. He posted a 90.0 man coverage grade in 2023 and would add even more talent to a revamped cornerback room in Detroit."

Diving into Day 3 for team draft fits, PFF's Gordon McGuiness has Louisiana Tech cornerback Willie Roberts for the Lions after a breakout campaign last season.

"Roberts earned PFF coverage grades above 72.5 in each of his two seasons at Louisiana Tech but was particularly adept this past season. He allowed just 15 receptions and tallied a combined 10 interceptions and pass breakups across 331 coverage snaps."

Both Green and Roberts could be nabbed further down the board, and each could solve a depth and development need at a key defensive position where the Lions have struggled in recent years.

PFF analysis shows Detroit Lions have many cornerback draft options

The fact that PFF listed the Lions' Day 2 and Day 3 fits as cornerbacks is telling. It showcases the depth of the class, and proves they don't have to reach for a prospect in the first round to go with offseason additions Carlton Davis and Amik Robertson (with Cameron Sutton as a notable loss).

In last year's draft, many were shocked to see the Lions grab running back Jahmyr Gibbs with their first selection. This season, it would be wise not to discount a similar surprise playing out. Maybe it'll end up being a corner, but there's a chance (possibly more than slim) that it won't be.

Next. 6 cornerbacks Detroit Lions could target on Day 2 of 2024 NFL Draft. 6 cornerbacks Detroit Lions could target on Day 2 of 2024 NFL Draft. dark