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Rashan Gary
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Draft Decisions

NFL Draft Needs: Lions

by Josh Norris
Updated On: April 10, 2019, 2:53 am ET

Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is Rotoworld's Senior NFL Editor, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) is Rotoworld's lead Draft Analyst. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in April’s draft.

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

Notable Pre-Draft Additions: DE Trey Flowers, CB Justin Coleman, TE Jesse James, WR Danny Amendola, CB Rashaan Melvin, G/T Oday Aboushi, RB C.J. Anderson, S Andrew Adams, WR Tommylee Lewis, TE Logan Thomas, CB Marcus Cooper.

Starting Offense

QB: Matthew Stafford
RB: Kerryon Johnson
WR: Marvin Jones
WR: Kenny Golladay
SLWR: Danny Amendola
TE: Jesse James
LT: Taylor Decker
LG: Frank Ragnow
C: Graham Glasgow
RG: Kenny Wiggins
RT: Rick Wagner

Starting Defense

RE: Romeo Okwara
LE: Trey Flowers
NT: Damon Harrison
3T: Da’shawn Hand
MLB: Jarrad Davis
WLB: Christian Jones
SLB: Devon Kennard
LCB: Darius Slay
RCB: Rashaan Melvin
SCB: Justin Coleman
FS: Quandre Diggs
SS: Tracy Walker

Team Needs

Silva's Analysis

Secondary: No. 2 corner is a longstanding need across from Slay, and in-house options Melvin, Michael Ford, Teez Tabor and Marcus Cooper are low-probability shots in the dark. Melvin’s man-coverage background does raise his intrigue as a one-year, flyer signing under man-coverage proponent Matt Patricia. Last year’s Lions played man at a top-five rate but lacked the requisite cover talent to execute, coughing up the NFL’s third-highest passer rating (100.0) and sixth-most yards per pass attempt (7.9). 2018 third-round pick Walker is penciled in as Glover Quin’s promising if inexperienced replacement at strong safety.

Edge Rusher: Although Patricia proved a creative enough schemer for his defense to eke out the NFL’s 12th-most sacks (43), the Lions finished 22nd in quarterback hit rate (14.5%) and remain short on outside pass rush even after signing Flowers. Okwara is best deployed as a situational rusher, and none of the Lions’ in-house edge-player reserves offer starter ceilings.

Pass Catcher: Right guard also warrants a mention amongst Detroit’s needs, but pass catcher takes precedence with only Golladay and Jones locked in as reliable receiving producers. 33-year-old Amendola is always an injury risk, and James is a better blocking than pass-catching tight end. After the Lions Offense fell apart following last October’s Golden Tate trade, Stafford needs another threat in the middle of the field. The Lions unsuccessfully tried trading for Rob Gronkowski last offseason.

 

Lions 2019 Draft Picks

Norris' Options

1 (8). EDGE Rashan Gary, Michigan - Rashan Gary won with athleticism in college. Rashan Gary tested in the 95th percentile at the NFL Combine. That part of his game will translate. I know the Lions just spent on Trey Flowers, but why stop there? Gary, if he hits his peak, can win from multiple alignments. If Gary absorbs NFL coaching and makes his strength even stronger, he will be a problem for offenses.

2 (43). CB Isaiah Johnson, Houston - Johnson enters the league as one of the most athletic corners in recent drafts, to go along with a 6-foot-2 frame, 33-inch arms and a 6.81 3-cone. The 3-cone is important, as the Patriots have shown a tendency to prioritize that result for corners. And we know the foundation of many Lions decision makers is in New England.

3 (88). WR Riley Ridley, Georgia - The brother of 2018 first round pick Calvin. Neither presented great athletic profiles, but both create separation with few wasted steps, animated and exaggerated route running and footwork. Ridley can help a team at multiple levels.

4 (111). TE Kahale Warring, San Diego State - If the Lions don’t invest in a tight end in the top two rounds, this area of the draft makes sense. Warring displays an ability to release both inline and when lined up in the slot.

5 (146). S Will Harris, Boston College - A really fun prospect. Harris often plays closer to the formation, lining up opposite slot guys or chasing down ball carriers at the opposite end of the formation, exhibiting range.

6 (184). LB/EDGE Porter Gustin, USC - A massive linebacker at 6-foot-5 and 244 pounds who works at the second level and rushes the passer.

6 (204). QB Easton Stick, North Dakota State - Connor Cook is currently slated as the backup quarterback. Not to say that backups should be counted on, but give me Stick in that spot.

7 (224). iOL Deion Calhoun, Mississippi State - Played next to early round pick Elgton Jenkins. Shows movement and strength in tight spaces.

7 (229). iDL Kenny Bigelow Jr., West Virginia - Powerful interior anchor with a flash of upfield ability.

Josh Norris
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 .