The NFL Draft is quickly approaching! The IDP department is breaking down each team post-free agency and what they should look to address in the draft.
Detroit has struggled on defense for a few years. Their offense has carried this team. The addition of Head Coach Matt Patricia should improve their defense. Their offense is solid enough that assuming they add a running back, they can focus most of their remaining picks on getting Patricia the guys he needs for his defense.
The Lions need to greatly improve their defensive line. At defensive end, they’ve got the perpetually overrated Ziggy Ansah. Ansah has 12.0 sacks last year, the second double-digit total of his career. Nine of those sacks came in three games with the other 3.0 sacks coming in the remaining 11 games (he missed two games). He’s great in best ball leagues. For the last two years, the Lions have pulled a DE out of nowhere to start across from Ansah. In 2016, it was Kerry Hyder who surprised with 8.0 sacks, before missing 2017 with an injury. Last year, it was Anthony Zettel with 6.5 sacks. Both of these guys are stopgaps.
Defensive Tackle is easily Detroit’s biggest weakness on defense. Haloti Ngata only played five games last year. He signed with Philly. That leaves A’Shawn Robinson and Akeem Spence. Robinson is a former 2nd Rounder but needs to continue improving. Zettel and Hyder could both play on the interior, so if Detroit adds a DE, it could help them on the inside.
Detroit took Jarrad Davis in the 1st Round last year. Davis started strong but began to lose snaps as the season progressed as he was being exploited in coverage. Davis still managed 96 tackles as a rookie. After hiring HC Matt Patricia, the Lions looked to revamp their LB corps, adding Devon Kennard and Christian Jones. Kennard got a decent contract, but let’s be real. Kennard was regularly a 50% snap player in the Giants godawful LB corps. Kennard’s ceiling is likely as a 2-down SAM. Jones was 4th on the depth chart at ILB at division-rival Chicago. If Jones wins the starting WILL spot, he’ll be productive, but he’s not guaranteed. The Lions also drafted Jalen Reeves-Maybin in the 4th Round last year, but JRM didn’t make it on the field too much as a rookie.
Detroit is fairly set at Cornerback. Darius Slay may not be a shutdown CB, but he is one tier below shutdown CBs. The starting spot opposite Slay will be up for grabs next season. The competition will be between last year’s starter Nevin Lawson, 2nd Round sophomore Teez Tabor, and Seattle castoff Deshawn Shead. Lawson is solid but not a ballhawk. Tabor likely has the most IDP upside if he wins the job.
The Lions have a plethora of Safety options. Glover Quin will lock down the FS spot. But at 32-years-old, Quin can’t play for too much longer. Last year, Tavon Wilson started at SS with Miles Killebrew coming in on 3rd downs in a Big Nickel package. When Wilson ended up on IR, surprisingly, it was slot CB Quandre Diggs who took over, providing some excellent IDP value at the end of the season. One of these three will need to step up to earn the starting spot. Can Killebrew finally stop teasing the potential he’s shown for a few years and turn into Detroit’s Jaquiski Tartt? Will Diggs turn his late-season run into sustained success? Is it Wilson’s job to lose? If you guys know the answer, could you please let me know?
Draft Needs – DE, DT, & LB
This defense needs a lot of help along the D-Line.
The Lions currently own:
1st Round #20 overall
2nd Round #51 overall
3rd Round #82 overall
4th Round #117 overall
5th Round #153 overall
7th Round #257 overall
Detroit needs to draft an RB. Where they draft, a RB will decide where they upgrade their D-line. If the Lions go DE in the 1st Round, Josh Sweat would likely be the best option. If the Lions wait until the 2nd or 3rd Round, they have a few options, Sam Hubbard or possibly Dorance Armstrong Jr.
The Lions also need to add interior D-linemen. In the 1st Round, Maurice Hurst dropping would be a dream come true. Otherwise, they’ll likely go with Vita Vea, Da’Ron Payne or Tavon Bryan. If the Lions take a DE in the 1st Round and need to grab a DT later, this is a great draft for them. They could draft Nathan Shepard, Harrison Phillips or Derrick Nnadi. Nnadi as a mid-round pick would be perfect for Detroit because he could play on 2-downs, stop the run, and be replaced by Hyder or Zettel in pass-rush situations.
For more in-depth analysis of these players, you can get the 2018 Rookie Roundup for FREE and read up on the IDP relevant draft prospects.
Thanks for reading! Be on the lookout for your favorite team broken down IDP style. Follow me @Ben_Glaser and let me know who you would want the Lions or your team to draft this year!