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 draft-day solutions.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.
No. 1 Team Need: Offensive Line
Leaky line play torpedoed the Lions' offense in the first half of last season, and then-OC Joe Lombardi's inability to fix it led to his firing. In particular, Detroit's interior line was a disaster. Whereas the Lions will hope for internal improvement from young OGs Laken Tomlinson and Larry Warford, they need an immediate upgrade on C Travis Swanson. The line could also benefit from a new starting left tackle, upgrading two positions by allowing LT Riley Reiff to kick to the right side.
No. 2 Team Need: Defensive Back
The Lions' biggest secondary need is strong safety, where Isa Abdul-Quddus left for Miami and free agent James Ihedigbo has not been re-signed. Special teamer Don Carey currently sits atop the depth chart across from FS Glover Quin. Cornerback is also unsettled with rising star RCB Darius Slay entering his contract season and LCB Nevin Lawson's starting job on shaky ground. The Lions did land a gem in last year's draft, selecting stud slot corner Quandre Diggs in the sixth round.
No. 3 Team Need: Defensive End
RE Ziggy Ansah has become one of the NFL's premier pass rushers, while LE Devin Taylor is coming off a seven-sack breakout year. The Lions are dangerously thin on the ends, however, with only ex-Bengals retread Wallace Gilberry and practice squad type Kerry Hyder rostered behind Ansah and Taylor. DC Teryl Austin could use a speed rusher capable of contributing 20-30 snaps per game in a sub-package role.
Norris' Mock Draft
Round 1 (16): T Jack Conklin, Michigan State - The NFL will like Conklin more than I do. He is a better run blocker than pass protector at this time. I do trust him more than many tackles in this class to move his man off the ball. However, his footwork and pass set can be a total mess as a pass protector, which turns into waist bending.
Round 2 (46): S T.J. Green, Clemson - I see a lot of people projecting Green at free safety. I guess he could do that, but I preferred Green when he was slotted at strong safety, where he ofted played in college. He can walk out to cover slot receivers or tight ends in some situations and closes quickly and aggressively against ball carriers in the box. Green is also a tremendous athlete.
Round 3 (95): CB Will Redmond, Miss State - Redmond is a super-talented player, maybe even starter quality, but tore an ACL during an October practice. He is one of the more fluid corners in this entire draft.
Round 4 (111): C Evan Boehm, Missouri - A real power player at the center position. Possesses a lot of strength at the anchor spot. Just another center in this class who will likely start early in his career.
Round 5 (151): DL Matt Ioannidis, Temple - Many drooled over Ioannidis’ first day of practice at the Senior Bowl. The end zone angle showed the defensive lineman crossing over into lanes that would not be available in a game situation. Still, the squatty defensive tackle has active hands and can win close to his body.
Round 5 (169): EDGE Alex McCalister, Florida - One of the true benders among the edge rushers, especially on the third day. McAlister only weighs 239 pounds and is purely a sub-package role player.
Round 6 (191): WR Jordan Payton, UCLA - A favorite of Matt Waldman. Payton can win the physical or “big” receiving game.
Round 6 (210): WR Paul McRoberts, Southeast Missouri State - Some view McRoberts as an “upside” talent whose game grows with experience. I sat with one NFL scout at the Senior Bowl who will push for McRoberts as a late-round pick or UDFA.
Round 7 (236): CB Brandon Williams, Texas A&M - The former running back is still learning the corner position but ran a blazing 4.37 forty.
Lions Current Offensive Depth Chart
QB: Matthew Stafford
RB: Ameer Abdullah
WR: Marvin Jones
WR: Golden Tate
TE: Eric Ebron
LT: Riley Reiff
LG: Laken Tomlinson
RG: Larry Warford
RT: Michael Ola
Lions Current Defensive Depth Chart
RE: Ziggy Ansah
LE: Devin Taylor
DT: Haloti Ngata
DT: Tyrunn Walker
MLB: Tahir Whitehead
WLB: DeAndre Levy
SLB: Josh Bynes
RCB: Darius Slay
LCB: Nevin Lawson
FS: Glover Quin
SS: Don Carey