Best Day Three Draft Fits for the Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions made two surprising picks on the second day of the draft.

In the second round, the Lions took linebacker Jahlani Tavai out of Hawaii. He was a surprising pick so early especially with so many corners on the board, but there were rumors that the Patriots and the Eagles were considering taking him early.

In the third round, the Lions traded up to take safety Will Harris out of Boston College. Harris is a solid prospect, but there is a question how big a need safety is compared to offensive guard and corner. Here are how the Lions could fill those needs on day three.

Cornerback:

Julian Love, Notre Dame: Julian Love is arguably the top corner remaining in the draft. He had a productive junior year with 16 pass breakups. He is exceptional on short to intermediate routes with his great quickness and agility. On deeper passes, his can struggle to stay with faster receivers as he showed below average speed on tape. Love has great technique and quickness which could make him an early starter, but doesn’t have a ton of upside with mediocre athleticism.

Amani Oruwariye, Penn State: Amani Oruawriye has great size at 6-foot-2 and long arms. He has limited experience but had eight interceptions in only two years. He is the opposite of Julian Love in terms of tools. Oruwariye has tremendous physicality and length which allows him to press at the line of scrimmage. He is still raw and his footwork can struggle at times. Overall, Oruwariye has all the tools to develop into an extremely effective press corner.

Isiah Johnson, Houston: Isiah Johnson is an intriguing project pick. He is a converted receiver with 4.4 speed and tremendous size at 6-foot-2 and 208-pounds. His receiver background and length is an asset on 50-50 balls. When he presses, he utilizes his length to disrupt receivers getting off the line. Besides that, his technique is extremely raw as you would expect with someone new to the position. Johnson would need time to develop, but with time could be a solid starter opposite Darius Slay.

Kris Boyd, Texas: Kris Boyd is an incredibly physical press corner. He does a good job contesting every pass even if he is unable to make a play on the ball , and he is stout against the run which is a requirement for the Lions defense. Boyd is not the most fluid athlete and can struggle to stay with receivers. When he does get beat, he can get grabby which could lead to more penalties in the NFL. Boyd is a physical and tough player the Lions could fall in love with.

Saivion Smith, Alabama: Savion Smith was a top recruit coming out of high school but bounced around three programs in three years in college. He has a good frame and is effective around the line of scrimmage with the ability to make plays downfield. His technique is not refined yet which can lead to explosive plays for the offense. Smith has not had proper time to develop while bouncing between programs but has tools to be a starter down the road.

Offensive Guard:

Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin: Coming out of Wisconsin, Benzschawel comes from a pro style offense with solid fundamentals. He is a good mover in space and is excellent at pulling; however, he will need to bulk up in the pros in order to open up holes in the run game. Benzschawel’s technique and experience in a pro style offense will allow him to contribute while he continues to bulk up.

Dru Samia, Oklahoma: A four year starter at Oklahoma, Dru Samia, will enter the league with plenty of experience. He has ideal size and athleticism for a guard. He also has a nasty streak that you love with an offensive lineman, but he will need to be careful in the league, so it doesn’t lead to costly penalties. In addition to that, his technique can get sloppy which can causes issues. If Samia’s technique becomes consistent, he will be a solid starting lineman for a long time.

Ryan Bates, Penn State: Ryan Bates started at left tackle, right tackle, and left guard for the Nittany Lions but will have to play on the inside in the NFL. He is an excellent pass blocker and would be able to keep QB Matthew Stafford upright. While he is good while pulling, he struggles with clearing out holes for running backs. Bates is a solid pass blocker who will need to develop his run blocking skills.

Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama: Pierschbacher lined up at both guard at center in college and has the versatility the Lions love. He is a good blocker in the run game who can clear out space in the run game while also being able to pull and lead block for a running back. He has short arms and is not a great athlete. Pierschbacher would help open up holes for Kerryon Johnson to have a monster sophomore year.

Edge:

Christian Miller, Alabama: Christian Miller was a versatile pass rushing weapon for the Crimson Tide with a long injury histroy. He is a great athlete with good bend around the edge along with a variety of pass rushing moves. When he played, he was a force and a top tier pass rusher in the SEC. He can struggle with the run as he struggles to disengage from blockers and can get pushed around by powerful tackles. Miller could be a sub package pass rusher while he works on getting better against the run.

Shareef Miller, Penn State: Shareef Miller has everything you want in a pass rusher with good height, weight, and speed. To go along with this, he has the versatility to play in both a 4-3 and a 3-4. In college, he relied on his tools instead of technique to make plays. In the pros, he will need to develop moves and counters in order to beat NFL lineman. If Miller is able to develop pass rushing moves, he could turn into a solid starter across from Trey Flowers.

Jalen Jelks, Oregon: Jelks is a tall and long pass rusher coming off the edge. He has the versatility that the Lions love as he played both inside and outside at Oregon. He has a wide variety of pass rushing moves and can win with both speed and power. While he does have good size, he lacks the functional strength necessary to set the edge against the run. Jelks is another good pass rusher who will need to get better against the run in the NFL.

Maxx Crosby, Eastern Michigan: Crosby is one of the best athletes in the draft at defensive end. At Eastern Michigan, he put up good numbers with 7.5 sacks and 19 TFLs. In the NFL, he will definitely need to put on weight as he will get pushed around in the league. Additionally, he will need to develop pass rushing moves as in he won’t be able to win with just his speed like he did in the MAC. Crosby has everything you want in a defensive end and would be worth a late round flyer to see if he can be developed.

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