The Detroit Lions draft pick could be a major pivot point for the NFL in April. After a disappointing 3-12-1 season that saw them lose their final nine games, the Lions have an opportunity to reshape their team for 2020.
Lions Draft Needs
2019 started well for Detroit since the team started 2-0-1. Their first five games were decided by a total of 11 points. But once they lost quarterback Matthew Stafford to a back injury, things went sideways. Stafford on the IR and other injuries submarined any potential playoff push.
Although the team signed Trey Flowers last season, the defensive line is a significant need to the Lions in 2020. The have pending free agents in the oft-injured Mike Daniels, Damon Harrison and A’Shawn Robinson. The young and talented Da’Shawn Hand also missed time in 2019 due to injury.
Detroit’s defensive line didn’t pressure the quarterback enough in 2019. Flowers and Devon Kennard tied for the team-lead in sacks (7), but as a whole the Lions produced the second-fewest sacks in the league (28).
Adding a young difference maker up front to help Flowers and Kennard should be a priority for this team.
The Lions have a three-time Pro Bowler in Darius Slay, but according to reports around the league, he was on the trading block last season. Slay could have an extension in the works, or he might be dealt.
Detroit used a 2019 fifth-round pick on Amani Oruwariye, and while he flashed potential, he wasn’t great. Uncertainty around Slay, coupled with inconsistent play opposite him, makes cornerback a position of need in 2020.
Detroit’s Kenny Golladay led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2019 with 11. He, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola all caught over 60 passes in 2019, but all three of those receivers will be on one-year deals in 2020.
A Golladay extension should be a priority for the club, but Jones and Amendola are on the backends of their career. Jones is 31 and finished the last two seasons in the IR. Amendola is 34.
The other receivers on the roster caught a total of 12 passes in 2019. And while the team could look to free agency for a wideout, the depth of the receiver class in 2020 should make Detroit consider using one of their picks to address this need.
Interior Offensive Line
Graham Glasgow, Oday Aboushi and Kenny Wiggins, three of Detroit’s top four offensive guards, will be free agents. Glasgow improved in 2019, becoming an anchor for the Lions’ interior offensive line. He can play both center and guard, so he’ll be highly sought after on the open market.
Detroit has guard Beau Benzschawel to replace Glasgow if he leaves in free agency, but adding some depth on the interior line should be a focus for the team.
Other Lions draft needs include inside linebacker, offensive tackle, quarterback and running back.
Lions Draft Capital
The Lions draft currently consists of eight selections. They hold the coveted No. 3 overall pick in the first round, as well as the No. 35 and No. 65 on Day Two. Detroit has the third pick in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds, in addition to Seattle’s fifth rounder. The Lions don’t have a seventh round pick thanks to a trade with the 49ers.
With Joe Burrow ticketed for Cincinnati, and Chase Young likely headed to Washington, the draft’s intrigue starts with Detroit. Quarterback hungry teams like Miami, the Chargers, Carolina and Indianapolis could all trade-up to draft Tua Tagovailoa.
A trade with Miami might see the Lions land the No. 5 and maybe the No. 26 pick, or perhaps additional second or third rounders.
If the Lions draft needs are truly at defensive tackle or cornerback, a trade down could still see them land prospects like Auburn’s Derrick Brown or Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah. Both will definitely be available at No. 3.
In the second round, the Lions could fill the other need that wasn’t addressed in the first. They could look at a cornerback like Virginia’s Bryce Hall if he’s fallen that far.
The team could look to address their wide receiver need in Day Two, perhaps with TCU’s Jalen Reagor. If Detroit drafts Okudah in Round One, maybe Reagor’s TCU teammate NT Ross Blacklock could be an option in Round Two. Blacklock is massive (6-3 and 329 lbs) and has underrated athleticism.
In Day Three of the draft, Detroit should look for positional depth. Even if they choose Brown, another interior defensive lineman to consider is Ohio State’s Davon Hamilton. Another Ohio State lineman to think about is offensive guard Jonah Jackson.
Head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn could be on the hot seat if they struggled through a third consecutive season. The team has some assets in place, but they need to take the next step.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford will be entering his 12th season in the league, so if they’re going to compete for the Super Bowl during his career, they’ll have to do so soon.