Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions need to build a contending roster and plan for the future in the 2019 NFL Draft.
State Of The Team
The Detroit Lions are a team on the rise after a successful free agency haul this offseason filled many of their needs. They needed it; the addition of former New England Patriots’ longtime defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, as the Lions’ new head coach last year dropped this potential playoff contender to the bottom of the NFC North basement in 2018.
But no one said the culture change in the Motor City was going to be easy. With more ex-Patriots joining the fold this offseason, the Lions figure to be in much better shape as they head into the second season of the Patricia era in Motown.
Total Draft Picks
The Detroit Lions have nine picks in this year’s draft.
- Round 1 – No. 8
- Round 2 – No. 11 (43rd overall)
- Round 3 – No. 25 (88th overall)
- Round 4 – No. 9 (111th overall)
- Round 5 – No. 8 (146th overall)
- Round 6 – No. 11 (184th overall)
- Round 6 – No. 32 (204th overall)
- Round 7: No. 10 (224th overall)
- Round 7: No. 15 (229th overall)
Top 3 Draft Needs
Offensive Guard: The loss of Pro Bowl right guard T.J. Lang suddenly makes the offensive line an important focus for the Detroit Lions in the upcoming draft. Lions’ general manager Bob Quinn has taken an offensive lineman with two of his three first-round selections since joining the Motor City in 2016. Quinn’s plan in Motown clearly starts in the trenches and that effort should continue in 2019. If the Lions opt to address the need in-house, that likely player is guard Kenny Wiggins. The six-year veteran started 10 games last season in Detroit for the injured Lang. But Wiggins’ presence would be that of a bridge player for an eventual starter, which the team could find in the draft.
Cornerback: Finding a suitable starting cornerback to play outside opposite of Pro Bowler Darius Slay is a must for Detroit this offseason. The Lions signed slot corner Justin Coleman in free agency. But the void left by longtime starter Nevin Lawson, who was released earlier this month, still needs to be filled. As 2017 second-rounder Teez Tabor appears to be a draft bust, the Lions are expected to find themselves a starting cornerback sometime this offseason. And that could be with the eighth overall selection in the 2019 draft.
Defensive End: You can never have enough pass rushers. But in the case of the Detroit Lions, you simply need more of them. The addition of ex-Patriot Trey Flowers via free agency was a major boost for the Lions’ defensive line. Detroit is paying a pretty penny in order to secure his services. But Flowers’ presence in the front seven and knowledge of head coach Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme is extremely valuable. Yet, he alone is not enough. Detroit needs to continue to fill this position, possibly in the first round of the draft.
Top 3 Draft Targets
The Lions still need a starting cornerback on the outside to pair with Darius Slay. And while rookie corners are notorious for taking extra time to develop, there are exceptions to the rule. And if you are choosing a player with the eighth-overall selection, you’d expect him to start Day 1. Williams could be that kind of impact defender for Detroit. The former Tiger has excellent size and speed. Williams projects to be a quality starter in the NFL and one the Lions desperately need.
The Lions helped their pass rush tremendously when they landed former New England Patriot defensive end Trey Flowers in free agency this offseason. But Detroit could use more talent at defensive end. And with a top-10 selection in the upcoming draft, they could certainly find themselves a quality player at the position. Who better than Gary, a player from Detroit’s own backyard? The former Wolverine could be a perfect bookend for Flowers in the Motor City and is versatile enough to play in the Lions’ multiple scheme.
Although the Lions do have a solid linebacker corps, Detroit clearly believes they need more talent at the position. This offseason they were rumored to be interested in both free agent linebackers Anthony Barr and C.J. Mosley. Detroit was unable to land either, so you have to figure they will look to the draft to fill that need. White is arguably the top linebacker in this draft class, a true difference-maker at the position and has the flexibility to fit into Matt Patricia’s diverse defensive scheme.
Decision Maker (Or Who To Blame If Things Go Wrong)
Bob Quinn, general manager. Ever since taking the helm of the Detroit Lions as their general manager back in 2016, Bob Quinn has been the primary decision-maker in the Motor City. And the former New England Patriot alum has a good track record in Detroit, rebuilding the roster over the past three years while attempting to change the culture in Motown.
His presence in the front office was a key piece to attracting former Patriots’ defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to Detroit last season to become the team’s new head coach. Now the futures of both men are tied together as they attempt to bring New England’s winning ways to the Lions.
Best/Worst Pick In Current Draft Slot
Historically, who was the best pick and the worst pick based on where the team is currently picking.
Best Pick: Ed O’Neil, linebacker, eighth-overall, 1974 NFL Draft
The best and only player ever to be selected eighth-overall by the Detroit Lions since the NFL-AFL merger is linebacker Ed O’Neil. Selected in the first round of the 1974 NFL Draft out of Penn State, O’Neil would spend six seasons in Detroit before ending his career with the Green Bay Packers in 1980. He would go on to become a well-traveled football coach, retiring in 2014.
Worst Pick: Reggie Rogers, defensive end, seventh-overall, 1987 NFL Draft
The worst player ever to be selected near the eighth-overall selection by the Lions is likely defensive end Reggie Rogers. Drafted seventh in the 1987 draft, Rogers would play just 11 games in the Motor City due to several off-the-field issues that eventually landed him in prison after he killed three teenagers in a car crash. Rogers is considered one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history.