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Thursday, March 21, 2013

2013 NFL Draft Capsules: Detroit Lions

Wild on Sports
2013 NFL Draft Capsules: Detroit Lions
By Wild on Sports NFL Analyst Davis McGregor

On The Clock: Detroit Lions

Team Overview:
Coming off of a 4-12 season the Detroit Lions have their fair share of offseason work to do. With holes popping up everywhere it’s hard to know where to start to tackle their issues. Fortunately for Motor City fans the front office has already made a sizeable splash in the free agency with signings of star running back Reggie Bush, safety Glover Quin, and a much needed defensive end Jason Jones.  

Team Needs:
1. Left Tackle
2. Pass Rushing Defensive End
3. Cornerback
4. Wide Receiver

For Jim Schwartz and company to restore the roar in Ford Field they will need to look to the 2013 NFL Draft to deal with the remaining flaws in his team. The first, and most important gap that needs to be filled is on the offensive line. This was a group that struggled to keep Matthew Stafford off the turf over the last few years and with losing both starting tackles, Cherilus and Backus, this needs to be the first position filled. 

Defensive end, corner back and a wide receiving complement to Calvin Johnson are also at the top of this year's list but we will get to those positions in a moment...

Likely Fits:
With both Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher in as possible candidates, I would say the Lions definitely need to choose which ever one is still left on the board at pick number 5. Both players excel at left tackle and could be sound replacements for Jeff Backus. Given the pass heavy style used by Detoit, Joeckel would be the better pick because he is a better-developed pass blocker.

Either way the position needs to be filled, Either of the two would do a remarkable job of protecting Stafford’s blind side, while sophomore lineman Rielly Reiff can take over for Cherilus in the right tackle position.

Unfortunately for the Lions, they lost about as many key players this year as they did games in 2012. From a squad that was once one of the most fearsome in the NFL, Detroit’s D line needs some work. Veteran end Kyle Vanden Bosch was cut, and rising star Cliff Avril, was recently signed by the Seahawks with a contract a little outside the budget for Lions.

While the addition of Jason Jones helps out on one side of the line, another pass rushing end is a necessity. BYU also just happens to have a great match for the Lions. Ziggy Ansah would fit perfectly into Detroit’s passing rushing 4-3 scheme, and thrive under the training with teammate Ndamukong Suh, lets just hope he doesn’t learn Suh’s patented stomping technique.

Ansah provided an outside edge rusher for BYU and picked up 4.5 sacks and forced 2 turnovers. This sort of play resembles the type Cliff Avril was able to bring to the defense and with his absence it would be a great move for the Lions to pick up Ansah in the first round, provided that Joeckel and Fisher are already drafted by the time the 5th pick rolls around

Once again, this next draft pick would be a player to help out the struggling defense. In 2012 Detroit was ranked 19th in pass defense, not something to necessarily brag about. This was also with two tremendous pass rushing defensive ends that will no longer be sporting a blue and silver jersey. In an effort to stop the air raid destroying tearing up the secondary each game, the front office signed a few players to help out.

The most important being the acquisition of safety Glover Quin from the Houston Texans. Quin provided consistent numbers for the Texans and Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham hopes he will bring those same skills to Detroit. One of the other more important signings to the secondary was actually a re-signing. With him coming back that solidifies half our field between he and Quin. The other side of the pass defense is another story, the Lions have had a revolving door of sub par athletes playing corner. What they need right now is one lockdown corner, and unless they can convince Dre Bly to come out of retirement, than I think their next best bet is Alabama corner Dee Millner.

Nick Saban has put together a team that has begun his dynasty in the NCAA, a team consisting of highly skilled defensive players and a powerful running game. So any player that is able to stand out on this squad and earn 2 BCS championship rings as a starter is definitely worth his weight in salt. Dee Millner was able to shine as the Crimson Tide’s premier pass defender. In the combine he was able to put together an impressive show followed by an impressive 4.37 40-yard dash time.

Millner has all the physical skills to be a lockdown defender in the league and combined with his impressive football IQ and instincts, should create a spot for himself as a legitimate threat to quarterbacks. Should the Lions decide to make their secondary the key focus of their draft, Millner would make quite a splash in Dee-Town. 

With Calvin Johnson in the line up and putting up record breaking yards, it’s easy to say that one of the Lion’s strengths would be their receiving core, and that’s somewhat true…somewhat.  Yes, the have arguably the best player in the game on their team as a receiver but who else do they have? 2011’s draft pick Titus Young was cut after an array of disciplinary actions, Nate Burleson turns 32 this year and is pretty much running on fumes right now. Bottom line is the Lions need to draft a new wide out.

The receiving core is in need of some new blood but is not the primary need of the Lions in this years draft class. There is a lot of depth this coming years rookie class and they should be able to find just who they need in the 2nd round. Enter Deandre Hopkins. Along side the electrifying Sammy Watkins, Hopkins still managed to put up great numbers in college and be a the primary target for Boyd.

Should he fall to the early second round, Detroit has the 4th pick; he would be a great weapon to compliment Calvin Johnson for gunslinger Matthew Stafford.

 Check out our other 2013 NFL Draft Team Capsules


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