By Dylan Gross, DLD Staff Scout
Round 1 (#10)
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.
To no one’s surprise, the Lions need help in the secondary. Glover Quin is as solid as it gets at safety. The recent signing of James Ihedigbo, who played under new defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin in Baltimore, will sure up the other side for now. But let’s be honest, Chris Houston looked downright bad last year, Darius Slay had a handful of flashes in his rookie campaign, and a handful of plays chasing down a receiver that burned him. Also, Bill Bentley will never manifest into an above average starter. Even if Rashean Mathis signs, Justin Gilbert, the best corner on most draft boards, can come in and automatically start. This pick will add talent and depth this year, but more importantly, the Gilbert/Slay duo will be able to go toe-to-toe with receiving tandems for years to come.
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
It was painful watching the mess that played opposite Calvin Johnson last year, Mike Evans would step in and be able to start on the outside and stretch the field. This would push the versatile Golden Tate inside, where in my opinion; he is better suited with his sure hands.
Round 2 (#13)
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn St
I know the Lions need another receiver, but they would be wise to pass on anyone besides Sammy Watkins in round 1. The depth at the Wide Receiver position this year is remarkable, and at pick 13 in the second round, someone with a first round grade will fall to them. In this situation, Allen Robinson falls. Very similar to what was said above about Evans; Robinson could push the versatile Tate inside. Or, they could bring him along slowly, with Tate on the outside, Broyles on the inside and Robinson at #4 on the depth chart.
Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
We know the Lions have watched Van Noy, after watching Ziggy Ansah last year. After bowl season, there were plenty of rumors about Van Noy and the Lions. Last year, under the old regime, the Lions played the vast majority of defensive snaps with only Levy and Tulloch on the field. Van Noy could come in and give Teryl Austin more versatility, and could battle special team ace, Tahir Whitehead and Travis Lewis for the starting OLB position.
Round 3 (#12)
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
The loss of Willie Young to division rival Chicago doesn’t hurt, but it still stings. Devin Taylor looked good last year, and Jason Jones is aging and coming off a major injury. Jeffcoat is very talented, but hasn’t necessarily put it all together, he adds depth at the position, and could be much better than Willie Young ever was.
Ahmad Dixon, Safety, Baylor
Ihedigbo is a solid player that will come in and start. But he is only on a 2-year deal and is on the wrong side of 30. Dixon adds depth and will step in as a starter once Ihedigbo departs.
Round 4 (#11)
Dion Bailey, Safety, USC
Very similar to what is said about the more talented Ahmad Dixon above. Bailey adds depth at the position, and a starting ability in a few years, after some grooming.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
If the Lions don’t attack the Cornerback position in the first 3 rounds, and Jean-Baptiste is on the board, there is no way they pass on him. Jean-Baptiste is the biggest CB in the draft, and everyone saw in early February that big, strong, physical corners can win games…..big games.
Round 4 (#33)
Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
LaAdrian Waddle surprised everybody last year, starting eight of the last nine games at right tackle. But, it doesn’t hurt to have a contingency plan if Waddle doesn’t progress as a starter. Nine times out of ten, when you draft an offensive lineman from Stanford, you get a quality player. Fleming comes in and is an immediate upgrade from Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard, who are both aging, and pushes LaAdrian Waddle to be better……fingers crossed.
Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
Reid, who is much better suited to play 4-3 DT, fits in nicely on the Lions defensive line. This is a position that the Lions must address with the uncertainty surrounding Nick Fairly. Reid has a lot of upside after dominating the Ivy League, but falls because he is a bit undersized.
Round 4 (#36)
Bryan Stork, C, Florida State
Dominic Raiola has been an integral part of the Lions rebuilding effort and success, but is on his last leg. Raiola has said recently that he knows he is battling for the starting Center job, after signing a veteran minimum. Stork won a national championship, and has a year to battle and learn from Raiola before eventually taking over as the starter.
Aaron Lynch, DE, USF
Character issues shouldn’t be a problem with new coach Jim Caldwell. Aaron Lynch was a freshman All-American at Notre Dame, and ended up at USF. Lynch is versatile, being able to line up inside and outside. Reward outweighs the risk here.
Round 6 (#13)
A.C. Leonard, TE, Tenn. St.
You can’t teach speed, and that is one thing that Leonard excels in. He ran a 4.5 40 yard dash at the combine. The platoon of him, red-zone specialist Joseph Fauria, and sort-of starter Brandon Pettigrew would be impressive.
Trai Turner, G, LSU
Once again, the Lions take a player that adds depth and has the ability to start in a year or two. Turner is a large man, at 6’3” 310 pounds, with some refinement in the pass protection aspect of his game (which is kind of important in the Lions offense), he could be very imposing opposite Larry Warford.
Round 7 (#12)
Zach Hocker, K, Arkansas
The Lions biggest need may be kicker. Watching David Akers in snowy Philadelphia was just brutal. Akers won’t be back. In steps Hocker, who may have to battle Havard Rugland (aka Kickalicious) for the kicking duties.
Tom Savage, QB, Pitt
If Shaun Hill departs via free agency, they will need to bring someone in to battle with Kellen Moore. Savage is definitely underrated, in part due to his terrible o-line at Pitt his senior year.
This is Dylan Gross’ debut with Detroit Lions Draft. We are happy to welcome him to the Draft Sites Network family. He’s an avid Lions fan and budding draft mind. You can follow Dylan on Twitter @realdylangross, and expect to see more of his work soon!