With the NFL Draft only 30 days away, the Detroit Lions currently hold six selections through the seven rounds of the draft– which ties them for fewest in the league.
It is no secret that the Lions are only a few pieces away from being a serious contender, but with so few picks, it will have to be quality over quantity. Here are a few of the candidates that could be considered with the 20th overall selection:
Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
The Lions have a serious need at defensive end. Even though Ziggy Ansah is coming back for another year, with no one else to compliment him, no change will take place. Landry was a standout his junior year, forcing seven fumbles, amounting 16.5 sacks, and a whopping 22 tackles-for-loss.
Landry sits at 6-foot-3, 252-pounds and draws comparisons to Vic Beasley in the way he can get around the edge. While he is on the smaller side, he has the burst to be a premier edge rusher in today’s NFL.
If he can learn to string some moves together at the line, given his speed, I would fully expect him to be able to get 13-15 sacks a year. That is above average considering Arizona Cardinals‘ outside linebacker, Chandler Jones, led the league with 17. The thing that excites me about this guy is his versatility. With an improved linebackers corps and Matt Patricia’s ability to get the best out of his players, the defense would look dangerous.
Additionally, Lions DC Paul Pasqualoni is very familiar with Landry as he was the defensive coordinator at Boston College during Landry’s time there.
If he is there at 20, I do not see a realistic scenario in which Landry does not become a Lion. That is unless Saquon Barkley or Bradley Chubb somehow fall off of every board in the top-19… that’s surely not happening.
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
When you think of the Lions, the last thing you think about is their stellar rushing game… because it does not exist. The Lions finished dead last in rushing yards a year ago. While signing LeGarrette Blount bolsters the backfield, specifically in short yardage situations, there are serious risks. Blount is 31-years old, and while he has stayed productive in recent years, injuries happen to anyone.
As a result, the Lions could find their feature back in Guice.
In Guice’s sophomore year, he averaged a stunning 7.6 yards-per-carry. With only 183 carries, he amassed a total of 1,387 yards. That is incredible, to say the least, but once you factor in the 22 touchdowns he had to go along with it… WOW. Guice stands at 5″11 and weighed 224-pounds at the combine. He has the physical capability to be a talented three-down back in the NFL.
Guice draws similar comparisons to his favorite NFL running back, Marshawn Lynch. Both of these guys run downhill and with a type of anger that sets them apart.
While Guice has the home run capability every team dreams of, he has had recurring issues pertaining to injury. Guice may be one of the favorites for the Lions at 20, but I would find it hard for Matt Patricia to choose a running back with his first pick given the holes they must address on the defensive side of the ball. There is also plenty of running back talent in the later rounds to fall back on.
Maurice Hurst, DL, Michigan
Maurice Hurst enters the draft as a clear favorite for the Lions at 20. After failing a physical due to issues with his heart, his stock seemingly fell for a while. The fact that this kid missed the combine and is still in consideration to be a top-15 pick shows you how talented he is.
During his four-year tenure as a Michigan Wolverine, Hurst totaled 130 tackles, 13.5 sacks, and a respectable 32 tackles-for-loss.
The thing that makes Hurst the player that he is, is his initial quickness off the snap. That aspect is key in disrupting plays in the backfield. He has the agility to avoid linemen and to impose serious inside pressure–which will allow other linemen to flourish as well. If he has the right system around him, I am positive that he will be a productive lineman in the league.
Unfortunately, Hurst is not big at all. Only standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing 282-pounds, he is going to have a hard time powering through the line. His struggles to shed blocks will also deter him from getting to the quarterback. The quickness in his game will have to prevail.
While Hurst is a prime talent, I think he is raw. He is best suited for a three-technique defensive tackle. Once again going back to his size, he would need a system that caters to his strengths.
I was never a huge fan of Hurst due to his lack of size, but with the right defensive coordinator, I believe he could be special.
James Daniels, C/OG, Iowa
At 6-foot-3, weighing 295-pounds, James Daniels is as athletic and agile as any lineman in the draft. His quickness and first step are better than average for someone of his size, and his speed is without question impressive.
The question here is not whether Daniels has the talent to be the 20th pick because while he is surely talented, it’s if he fits the Lions need at center. The issue I have with this pick is not because I fear Daniels won’t be good enough, but because I know talent similar to this will be available in later round.
The Lions have holes on their roster that need to be filled. With free agency still ongoing, I would not be surprised if they find additional depth along the offensive line. Additionally, Graham Glasgow has proven he can handle the center position, so I don’t really see the need to spend a first-round pick on one.
Besides that, Daniels is surely a talented player. He may have some issues being a power blocker considering he is not the strongest, but at only 20-year old, he can build up his strength. With room for development, he could turn into a Pro Bowler in no-time.
Just not the right pick for the Lions here if you ask me.
Everyone Loves a Trade
As previously stated, the Lions have only six selections in the draft this year. With how deep this draft is in several positions, the Lions could look to stock up on some more draft picks.
Several teams such as the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs don’t have a selection in the first round but have serious needs. The Lions could potentially trade their first-round pick in exchange for second and thirds in order to provide more depth and talent at positions such as OL, TE, and DL.
While I am opposed to this scenario, I do believe it would benefit the Lions in the long run. Hitting on multiple mid-round picks could assure their chances of getting some productive talent to build up the roster.
For the first year of the Matt Patricia era, I suggest we just sit back and let him and Bob Quinn do their thing. As a Lions fan that may be difficult considering the mistakes that previous management has put us through.
We are in a new era of Lions football. The best is yet to come.