Josh Norris

Draft Decisions

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NFL Draft Preview: Lions

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.


For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by team draft preview schedule.

 

No. 1 Team Need: Cornerback


Silva's analysis


Detroit has a lot of theoretical talent at corner, but little or nothing on which to hang its hat. LCB Chris Houston was benched down the stretch of 2013. Second-round pick Darius Slay lost his starting job to 33-year-old Rashean Mathis, who is now a free agent. Bill Bentley, Chris Greenwood, and Jonte Green all saw extensive playing time but failed to reliably nail down jobs. New Lions DC Teryl Austin has a Baltimore background, where he coached defensive backs.


Norris' options


First day option: Jason Verrett, TCU - Expect Slay to play press man on one side of the field, similar to Jimmy Smith in Baltimore. The Lions then need their Lardarius Webb, which is not easy. Enter Jason Verrett, who is sub 5’10 like Webb but can press, play off, or play in the slot. Verrett might be the best corner in this class in terms of gaining backfield vision, closing, and attacking the catch point. Too often people want to select a big corner with length, when really Verrett can match up in contested situations better than taller prospects.


Second day possibility: Bashaud Breeland, Clemson - Breeland is another prospect who locates the ball and can attack receivers at the highest point. He has speed and length to trail and catch up, but Breeland is obviously not perfect. He will likely draw a second-round selection.


Third day flier: Antone Exum, Virginia Tech - Exum had a throwaway senior season, but his junior season was very good. Some suggest he can play safety or corner, likely stemming from a good amount of zone coverage, but that versatility can only help his cause.


Video: Norris on Detroit's top need



No. 2 Team Need: Wide Receiver


Silva's analysis


The Lions' signing of Golden Tate (five years, $31 million) was a step in the right direction, but Detroit should still be seeking ways to move Kris Durham down the depth chart. Durham is an inefficient drop machine. Kevin Ogletree is a journeyman, while Ryan Broyles can't be trusted after double ACL tears and a ruptured Achilles' tendon. Coach Jim Caldwell likes to play three-wide offense. A homerun-hitting deep threat would complement Tate and Calvin Johnson well.


Norris' options


First day option: Mike Evans, Texas A&M - Evan noted a vertical target/deep threat for the Lions. Watkins will certainly be gone and the team might trade back for Odell Beckham Jr., but this is the sweet spot for Evans. Vertical targets are frequently linked with speed, but winning at the catch point over trailing corners or with deep safeties is also very important. Evans can absolutely do this.


Second day possibility: Martavis Bryant, Clemson - At this point, Bryant is purely a downfield target. His game progressed rapidly in the later portions of 2013. He has not maxed out his high pointing ability outside of alley-oop targets, but he oozes “upside.”


Third day flier: Shaq Evans, UCLA - Evans stole the show in Matt Waldman’s WR roundtable, specifically his understanding of shedding press, setting up routes and keeping defensive backs off balance. If only he could catch consistently.



No. 3 Team Need: Quarterback


Silva's analysis


Lions GM Martin Mayhew has quietly done an impressive job of constructing his roster despite limited on-field success. This is a team that should enter May's draft selecting best players available instead of drafting for need. The Lions lost Shaun Hill in free agency, leaving only limp-armed Kellen Moore behind $76.5 million starter Matthew Stafford. Detroit can afford to draft a mid- to late-round quarterback to groom as Stafford's long-term backup.


Norris' options


First day option: This will not happen.


Second day possibility: Not to repeat myself, but I doubt the Lions spend one of their top three picks on a quarterback.


Third day flier: Aaron Murray, Georgia - You know what you are going to get with Murray. He seemed to progress in terms of firing in the face of pressure and displayed some quality pocket movement while firing in tight spaces. He can be good in the short to intermediate levels of the field as well. He is what teams look for in reliable backup quarterbacks.



Lions 2014 Draft Picks (8)


First Round (No. 10)

Second Round (No. 45)

Third Round (No. 76)

Fourth Round (No. 111)

Fourth Round (No. 133)

Fourth Round (No. 136)

Sixth Round (No. 189)

Seventh Round (No. 227)


Current Lions First-Team Offense


QB: Matthew Stafford

RB: Reggie Bush

WR: Calvin Johnson

WR: Golden Tate

TE: Brandon Pettigrew

TE: Joseph Fauria

LT: Riley Reiff

LG: Rob Sims

C: Dominic Raiola

RG: Larry Warford

RT: LaAdrian Waddle


Current Lions First-Team Defense


RE: Ziggy Ansah

LE: Jason Jones

DT: Ndamukong Suh

DT: Nick Fairley

MLB: Stephen Tulloch

WLB: DeAndre Levy

SLB: Ashlee Palmer

LCB: Chris Houston

RCB: Darius Slay

FS: Glover Quin

SS: James Ihedigbo



Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris



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