The Detroit Lions approached free agency in a way they never have before and went after big name players to fill holes instead of relying on the draft as their back bone this off season.
General Manager Bob Quinn chose not to resign injury prone DE Ziggy Ansah and also made the decision to release starting G TJ Lang, starting CB2 Nevin Lawson and fan favorite S Glover Quin.Although the Lions got rid of some familiar faces they did bring back some names you should remember resigning DE Romeo Okwara, RB Zach Zenner and CB Marcus Cooper.
Heading into the off season pass rushing and defensive line were of the utmost need for the Lions and with the draft extremely deep with pass rushers, it was unclear if they would make a big splash in free agency or if they would wait to the draft to add to their D Line.
A few hours into the legal tampering period we had our answer as the Lions agreed with now former Patriot's star DE Trey Flowers to a 5 year $90 million deal. Detroit also added former Seahawk's slot CB Justin Coleman, Steeler's TE Jesse James and Dolphin's WR Danny Amendola all on the first day of the legal tampering period. A very nice haul for Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia who probably feel the need to win and to win now. Over the course of the next few weeks BQ would continue to add to the roster signing G Oday Aboushi, S Andrew Adams, WR Tommylee Lewis, TE Logan Thomas, and CB Rashaan Melvin.
Melvin figures to be the lions option at CB2 opposite Darius Slay, with Coleman getting most of his snaps presumably in the slot and the lack of development so far by 2017 2nd round pick Teez Tabor. Aboushi will compete with Tyrell Crosby for the starting RG position after Lang's departure. The rest of the signings provide for depth all around the field which the Lions lacked last season. It is worth noting, Detroit signed RFA RB Malcolm Brown to an offer sheet but was quickly matched by the Los Angeles Rams. So it seems the Lions might be looking for another RB to back up Kerryon Johnson and may not be done in free agency before the 2019 NFL Draft.
All of these moves puts Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia in a very good position for the upcoming draft which is now less than a month away. There is not one position the Lions need to fill with the #8 pick in the first round. With all the depth they have added they can pretty much draft best available the entire draft which is not something the Lions have been able to do in the past. I've went ahead and put together a 7 round mock for the Detroit Lions with that very mindset in place.
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ROUND 1: Pick 8 DE Montez Sweat Ole Miss - Adding a pass rusher at 8, to me, is still a homerun pick for the Lions. Sweat opposite of Trey Flowers with Snacks Harrison, Da'Shawn Hand and Ashawn Robinson in the middle sounds like a scary sight for opposing offensives. Now if for some reason DE Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, LB Josh Allen or ILB Devin White fall to the Lions, you have to take the best available of those players. However, Montez Sweat is the realistic option for Detroit and a very good option at that. 22.5 sacks in two seasons at Ole Miss, Sweat is long and lanky and could become a force on the edge for Detroit, something the Lions haven't had consistently for some time now. The thought of two pass rushers just entering their prime on both ends of a D Line with arguably the best run stopping DT in football, could leave Lions fan salivating.
ROUND 2: Pick 43 C/GErik McCoy Texas A&M - With TJ Lang being released and retiring from football, the Lions need help on the interior line and preferably players that can stay healthy. O-line has been a position the Lions haven't had great luck with the last few years due to injuries. McCoy, who started a majority of his games at A&M at center can also be used at guard and can come in and compete for the starting RG spot with Aboushi and Crosby. McCoy is a great run blocker and something the Lions are looking to do more with new offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell is run the ball more and effectively. This pick also provides even more depth at OL, which is never a bad thing in the NFL to have a surplus of solid offensive lineman. McCoy is only 21, so he may take some time to develop but the wait might just be worth it.
ROUND 3: Pick 88 WR Emmanuel Hall Missouri - The Lions WR corps lacks a guy with speed that can get behind defenders and that is what Hall can bring to this team. Marvin Jones turned himself into a deep threat but it is not really his game and Kenny Golladay can be a number one WR but his game is more about being the better athlete on jump balls. Hall averaged over 23 yards per catch at Missouriand ran 4.39 40 yard dash at the combine. Although his route running will need some work as well as his ball handling issues, the Lions could really use Hall's speed and this would be a great value pick up in the third round. Adding Hall to the group of Golladay, Jones, Amendola, and Brandon Powell gives the Lions more options to work with and competition at this position is much needed.
ROUND 4: Pick 111 RB David Montgomery Iowa State - This pick is assuming the lions don't add their RB2 in free agency but Montgomery is a smash mouth runner and paired with Kerryon Johnson could be a dangerous duo for years to come. Montgomery is a great short yardage back and is not afraid to break through contact. For a runner that can handle contact, Montgomery has pretty good vision and having another pair of fresh legs in a run heavy offense could do wonders to keep Kerryon healthy all season. Three offensive picks out of four seems like something Matt Patricia wouldn't be on board with but the additions in free agency mentioned before give the Lions the ability to add weapons on offense, where they struggled to score points and move the ball at times last season.
ROUND 5: Pick 146 CB Mark Fields Clemson - Maybe a reach that he will be available in the fifth round but this could be the steal of the draft for the Lions like Da'Shawn Hand was in the fifth last year. Fields has tremendous speed, something that Teez Tabor lacks and has really hindered his time with the Lions so far. Fields is a hard hitter, something BQ & Matt Patricia see as a great quality ala Qaundre Diggs and Tracey Walker. Fields didn't play a whole lot at Clemson due to injuries even though he came in as a top 100 recruit. Although, Fields best performance came in the National Championship game last season vs. Alabama. That's not something that will show at the combine but a player having his best game in his biggest game of his career is a good stat to me. Fields could potentially develop into the starting CB2 across from Slay and could spend this year learning from Rashaan Melvin.
ROUND 6: Pick 184 LB Tre Watson Maryland - Devon Kennard and Jarrad Davis had 7 and 6 sacks last season respectively but both struggled in pass coverage even though Davis seemed to start to come around more towards the end of the season. Tre Watson had 5 interceptions last year for Maryland and could be that coverage linebacker the Lions need to protect the middle of the field from 5-10 yard dump offs. Watson could compete with Christian Jones and Jalen Reeves-Maybin and provide depth at the linebacker position especially after the departure of Eli Harold. Like Kennard and Davis, Watson is a hard hitter and solid tackler and can bring that same intensity that the prior mentioned do on every down. Getting in the backfield is not a strength of his but the good thing would be the Lions wouldn't need that from him.
ROUND 6: Pick 204 QB Ryan Finley NC State - This pick is exactly what it looks like, drafting a late round QB to back-up Matthew Stafford instead of going with an older veteran. Finley will never be a starter in the NFL but could succeed as a career back up. His arm strength and decision making will stop him from ever being a week to week starter but he is pretty accurate when you need him to be. His footwork and movement in the pocket is above average and could serve as a good back-up for years behind Stafford if that is the route the Lions continue to go.
ROUND 7: Pick 224 TE Donald Parham Stetson - Prior to free agency it seemed that it was written in stone Detroit would be taking a TE in the early rounds and they very well may still take one but the signings of Jesse James and Logan Thomas say otherwise. Michael Roberts still has potential but adding a tight end at the of the draft might be a wise choice. Parham is big 6'8 243lb and could be a mismatch for a lot of corners and some linebackers. Adding another TE to the room would make four and an ideal choice by Bob Quinn and company.
ROUND 7: Pick 229 S JoJo McIntosh Washington - With Tracey Walker set to take the spot of Glover Quin in the FS position and Qaundre Diggs in the SS position, more safety depth would be welcomed. Andrew Adams is a ball hawk who the lions added through free agency and drafting JoJo McIntosh here would be adding another hard hitting safety to the roster. Great size for a safety but over commits because of his wanting to take your head off on every play. McIntosh is the type of guy Matt Patricia loves and could provide more depth or be a great special teams player, an area the Lions struggled in 2018.
The NFL Draft is April 25th, 26th and 27th this year in Nashville, Tennessee.