Lions season, over. College football, done. While some might crawl into the deep, depressing stage of the year we call the offseason, there are optimists among us. With football season coming to a close, draft season begins, and boy is 2019 going to be a doozy. This is an interesting part of the draft process as the Senior Bowl and Shrine games have yet to take place, I mean the Combine is still 2 months away, but luckily you have me to help fill your need for early season content.
The Lions came into this year with hopes of being a fringe playoff contender in Matt Patricia’s first year, but fell flat of that goal early on in the season with things never seeming to click on either side of the ball. With a 6-10 record Detroit earned the #8 pick in this years draft, and there will be plenty of talented players available to help right the ship.
This will be our 2nd draft with head coach Matt Patricia, and 4th under general manager Bob Quinn. I want to start by diving into the selections of Bob Quinn through 3 drafts before giving my early picks as options at #8 come April.
The early returns on the 2018 draft have been nothing short of great. Frank Ragnow looks like a decade long starter at LG, Kerryon Johnson is the most electric back we’ve had in quite some time, Tracy Walker looks like a plus starter at the safety position, Da’Shawn Hand took everyone by surprise and looks like one of the better defensive lineman in the class, and Tyrell Crosby looked solid in limited snaps.
2017 we saw Jarrad Davis come off the board at 21 and the jury is still out, while he improved quite a bit in his overall game this year I struggle to see him being a pro-bowl caliber linebacker in his career. Florida teammate “The Snail” Teez Tabor has been one of the worst CBs in the league, but there are a few bright sides to this class. Kenny Golladay erupted in his 2nd year with over 1,000 yards and 5 TDs, Jalen Reeves-Maybin is a quality player for the 4th round pick we spent on him, and Jamal Agnew has carved out a role all over the field.
Taylor Decker was the guy in 2016 and has been worth the #16 selection. I hope to see him stay healthy but he’s an above average pass protector for Stafford’s blindside and better in the run game than he gets credit for. Graham Glasgow and Joe Dahl have been solid on the interior of our line, Glasgow as a starter, Dahl in his role as a swing guy. A’Shawn Robinson is a very good run defender, but unfortunately offers next to nothing rushing the passer. The rest of the draft isn’t really worth mentioning, but it was a solid group in the trenches to try to build the foundation of an identity for this Lions team.
Now here we are, January of 2019, coming off a 6 win season that has many fans asking for more, but with a high draft pick to try to sure up the weak spots on the roster. In my opinion this Lions team has a few gaping holes, but when push comes to shove, there really aren’t that many needs. To start, there is a desperate need for a pass rush, Ziggy Ansah is likely headed elsewhere, and we’ve struggled to get after the quarterback even when he is on the field (rare as it may be). Darius Slay is a perennial pro-bowler at CB but there is an obvious need for a quality #2. Linebacker is a weakspot, along with the need for another safety with Glover Quin starting to regress at 33 years of age. Tight End and a 3rd wide receiver round out the needs for this team and between free agency and the draft I’d say there’s a good chance of filling at least 4/6 of those spots come training camp. With a lot of talented players to discuss, let’s get to it.
Josh Allen, Edge, Kentucky
Allen is the prototypical edge rusher in today’s NFL; he passes the “off the bus test” at 6’4 260 lbs, with long arms that he utilizes well once engaged. He’s an explosive pass rusher with a quick first step, the flexibility to get around the edge, and the ability to come from a 2 or 3 point stance. Allen was asked to do a lot at Kentucky and has shown the ability to effectively drop into coverage and play the run when needed. He’s as close to a sure thing as you can find at #8.
Ed Oliver, Interior Defensive Line, Houston
With the addition of Snacks Harrison, the interior of our defensive line is actually in good shape, but if the opportunity presents itself to take a disruptive force like Ed Oliver you run to the podium and you never look back. You’re going to hear a lot of comparison’s to Aaron Donald between now and April, and obviously you don’t want to do that for many reasons, but he does have similar traits coming out of school. He is a 6’2 280 lb war machine with the athleticism of a running back and the feet of a ballerina, next.
Byron Murphy, Cornerback, Washington
Perfect fit for Matt Patricia. Murphy is a physical, sticky corner in man coverage with the attitude to step up and help in the run game. While Greedy Williams has been the most talked about corner in this draft to this point, I think by April people will realize Murphy is the best. He has the competitive edge necessary for the position, the athleticism we didn’t get from Teez Tabor, and the ball skills to make plays opposite Darius Slay. This would give us two guys you can put on an island on the outside and allow us to get creative with the front 7 to find ways to generate a pass rush.
Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State
Burns is an interesting evaluation because he plays at 6’5 230 lbs. 99% of prospects trying to play his position at the next level you throw in a weight room and don’t let him come out until he hits 245, but that’s not Burns’ game. He comes at you with a great first step, the ability to bend around the tackle, and hit you with a developed variety of pass rush moves. He’s a natural in one on one situations and knows how to attack on the fly. He’s not without flaws, and he’s far from a sure thing, but if you’re looking for a high risk, high reward pass rusher this is a guy you take a chance on.
Nasir Adderley, Safety/Corner, Delaware.
By far my favorite player I’ve scouted at this point in the process. While today you won’t find him anywhere near the top 10 in the mock drafts you read, by the end of the Senior Bowl process I believe that will change. I don’t want to get carried away with my 1st draft crush of 2019 but this kid has the chance to be truly special. An incredible athlete, ultra competitive, intelligent in breaking down offensive schemes, phenomenal ball skills, physicality, ability in man coverage, the only major flaw at this point is his lack of big time competition while playing for Delaware. Look out for Adderley’s name when Senior Bowl practices kick off, and tell me he’s not a top 10 talent.