Lions 2018 Draft Outlook: Prospects, Fits, and Picks

With the 2017 season just four games away from the playoffs, we will look at a “mock” draft for the Detroit Lions. In this scenario, I will take the place of GM Bob Quinn in the upcoming draft. Let’s get it rolling.

Top-5 Lions needs:

1. Defensive Tackle: With Haloti Ngata turning 32 and out for the season with injury, the Lions desperately need an interior pass rusher. Especially in DC Teryl Austin‘s scheme where everything revolves around the defensive tackle ability.

2. Running Back: This may come as a surprise to some, but with the Ameer Abdullah experiment just not working, they need a feature back. If they can somehow get one in the draft/FA, I expect Stafford and this offense as a whole to make a huge step forward.

3. Defensive End: Ezekiel Ansah is in the last year of his deal and I don’t see Detroit retaining him based on the market for edge rushers. I expect their first-round pick to be spent on the D-Line.

4. Interior Offensive Line: The interior offensive line is also a big reason why Detroit can’t seem to run the ball. Lions running backs are being hit behind the line more often than not.

5. Cornerback: Yes I know, this secondary has been pretty good so far, and we just spent a 2nd round pick on a corner. With all that being said, I still see this as a big need next season with Lawson and Hayden both being FA come seasons end.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the top 3 prospects at each position based on need, fit, and where the picks are (ex: I won’t have Saquan as an RB because he projected to be a top-10 pick).

Defensive Tackle:

1. Christian Wilkins CLEM: If he is there when we pick, I don’t see how we pass. He is a prolific pass rusher on the inside in a 4-3. He would be the building block of our defense moving forward.

2. Vita Vea WASH: Although he fits size wise as a 3-4 nose, I think he could fit in a 4-3 as a space eater who can also rush the passer. They kind of already have that with A’Shawn Robinson but having the pair could change this defense entirely, particularly against the run.

3. Maurice Hurst UM: His biggest knock is size at only 6-foot-2 and 282-pounds. But, his first step quickness and pure knack for getting to the quarterback is something you can’t teach– you can always gain weight. I would be happy with either of the three.

Running Back:

1. Nick Chubb UGA: To me, Chubb is one of the can’t miss prospects of this draft. He is a big bulky back that has speed. His game doesn’t stop there though as he is patient and elusive getting to the hole, yet once he’s there, he’s a wrecking ball. With him and Abdullah, this would be a very nasty RB duo barring injury.

2. Derrius Guice LSU: Guice is a good all-around back. He pairs his breakaway speeds with some decent power. His patience isn’t great but his vision is phenomenal. He almost always finds the hole. He is a playmaker back that has potential to be a game changer.

3. LJ Scott MSU: This would be a pick in the mid to late rounds. I say we go DL/OL/RB in any order, but he would be perfect to pair with Abdullah as our primary power back and would help the red zone deficiencies.

Defensive End:

1. Clelin Ferrell CLEM: While some think he stays, in the event he declares for the draft, I do believe he will be a first-round pick. He would be perfect as the primary pass rusher to this defense and Ziggy Ansah‘s predecessor.

2. Dorance Armstrong KU: A very productive speed rusher, this is another immediate upgrade in this defense. He has potential to be a 12-14 sack a year guy. He’s a very bendy speed guy that uses his athleticism a little too much for my liking, but he can always develop better hand use.

3. Zach Allen BC: He is a good all-around DE but not exactly what Detroit needs. If he’s there in the 2nd and we go RB or OL first round, I don’t see the Lions passing.

Interior Offensive Line:

1. Quenton Nelson ND: Possibly the best offensive lineman in the draft. Many would say this run game is bad due to blocking and I would agree to an extent, but Nelson has a very high potential and if he is there, you can’t pass being Bob Quinn.

2. Billy Price OSU: While I think Nelson is the overall better prospect, Price could be the pick due to his versatility. While Nelson is a pure guard, Price has played both C/G in his career and we all know how much Quinn loves versatility.

3. Isaiah Wynn UGA: He is projected for day 2 and is an excellent run blocker. With that being said, if Quinn goes DL or RB first, it’s safe to say Wynn will be high on the draft board.

Cornerback:

1. Minkah Fitzpatrick ALA: Yes, I know Minkah projects as a safety, but that only assures this makes even more sense. Picture this: Lawson and Hayden’s contracts are up and we need CB help as well as the fact that Glover Quin is a year or two away from regressing. Minkah could come in and be the No. 2 corner and once Quin retires/leaves, you just slide him over to free safety.

2. Tarvarus McFadden FSU: McFadden could be a lockdown corner, yet he could fall in the draft. With another decently deep corner class, it’s hard not to land a good one. Depending on how Quinn feels the talent falls on the board, he could be the first pick.

3. Joshua Jackson IOWA: If this guy is here in rounds two or three, he could be the pick. He is a pure ballhawk with No. 1 corner size at 6-foot-1, 192-pounds. Could be a game changer in this defense as he is a turnover machine.

“Perfect” Lions Mock Draft

Now that our offseason needs have been identified, if everything were to fall into place, this would be my “perfect” 2018 Detroit Lions mock draft. (5 rounds)

Round 1: DT Vita Vea WASH: Vea could be gone before the pick depending on how well the rest of the season goes. But if he’s there, there is no way Quinn passes. He is huge, strong, and surprisingly agile. He’s a lot like Danny Shelton of the Cleveland Browns.

Round 2: RB Nick Chubb UGA: Just another weapon to add, but most of all, adds a power running back with speed. He would transform this offense, particularly in the red zone, giving Stafford a decent run game with the Chubb/Abdullah 1-2 punch.

Round 3: Marcus Davenport DE UTSA: He is a long and quick edge defender, primarily a pass rusher, but he can do it all. If he’s here in the 3rd-round, expect the pick.

Round 4: IOL Will Clapp LSU: If Clapp is there, he’s the pick. One of the more underrated linemen in the draft, he is a very good run blocker as well as a solid pass blocker. He could step in day one despite being a mid-round selection.

Round 5: LB TJ Edwards WIS: Edwards is a tackling machine. He would be a solid depth linebacker but with our, LB core he could be an instant starter. Another good pick on the defensive side of the ball.

This is only the first of many, as I will continue with updated draft rankings and fits for the Detroit Lions.

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