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: Defensive line
Front-four play has been the nuts of Detroit's defense several years running, but Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley both fled in free agency, and the Lions have shown surprisingly little urgency to re-sign key run-stopping role player C.J. Mosley. They traded for Haloti Ngata, but he is 31 1/2 years old and not the interior disruptor he once was. Tyrunn Walker was a nice under-the-radar signing at three technique, but Walker is unproven as more than a lightly used wave defender. The Lions could also use an edge-pass rusher to complement RE Ziggy Ansah, and allow Jason Jones to focus on rushing from the inside on passing downs.
No. 2 Team Need: Offensive line
Although the Lions fielded adequate pass protection in 2014, the run blocking took a dramatic step back. Gone is stalwart C Dominic Raiola, and LG Rob Sims has yet to be re-signed. 2014 third-round pick Travis Swanson is penciled in at pivot, but left guard is a glaring hole. RT LaAdrian Waddle is coming off ACL surgery. From a depth standpoint, offensive line is the Lions' thinnest position across the board.
No. 3 Team Need: Running back
Cornerback and wide receiver could also use injections of talent on the Lions' roster, but running back is a quietly-huge question mark as Joique Bell returns from Achilles' and knee surgeries, after undergoing an additional knee procedure last offseason. Bell is entering his age-29 season and has failed to hit 4.0 yards per carry in back-to-back years. Theo Riddick is a one-dimensional passing-down specialist. As coach Jim Caldwell is on record as wanting to improve Detroit's run-game volume and efficiency, an early-round draft choice seems likely.
Norris’ Mock Draft:
Round 1 (23): OL Cameron Erving, FSU - As Evan pointed out, the Lions moved on from veterans along the interior of their offensive line. I am a horrible person, or at least horrible Elon graduate. Rodney Austin, a fellow Elon grad, is currently listed as the starting left guard and I am trying to replace him. The Lions could be waiting on veterans, but Erving is likely viewed as the top interior line prospect in the draft. He has more experience at tackle and center, but the projection from center to guard might not be a drastic one.
Round 2 (54): DT Xavier Cooper, Washington State - Since the Lions only have six picks, a second rounder at defensive tackle might be a bit early. Cooper is best at disrupting, meaning he can get upfield and force the quarterback to move his spot or force running backs to change their initial lines. The team could opt for more of a 1 technique depending on their faith in Caraun Reid.
Round 3 (88): CB Josh Shaw, USC - From my understanding, the Lions use one press corner and another in a movement position. Shaw is best in press and is physical in the five yard grace window. Some teams could view Shaw as a safety, and we have seen numerous corners convert to a deeper defensive back role.
Round 6 (200): RB Josh Robinson, Miss State - We have been over this before: many NFL teams do not love unique prospects from a frame and play style standpoint. Robinson also tested like a poor athlete at the Combine. Still there are flashes of great vision and skills to beat first contact.
Round 7 (231): S Nick Perry, Alabama - When healthy, Perry was Landon Collins’ counterpart during the 2014 season. For the college level, Alabama’s coverages were complex. So he played in split sets, single high and near the line of scrimmage. Both James Ihedigbo and Isa Abdul-Quddus are in the final year of their deal.
Round 7 (240): G Chad Hamilton, Coastal Carolina - Hamilton has received interest from multiple teams in the form of workouts and visits. He played in almost every single game of his career and will likely move inside to guard from his college tackle spot.
Lions Current Offensive Depth Chart
QB: Matthew Stafford
RB: Joique Bell
WR: Calvin Johnson
WR: Golden Tate
TE: Eric Ebron
LT: Riley Reiff
LG: Rodney Austin
RG: Larry Warford
RT: LaAdrian Waddle
Lions Current Defensive Depth Chart
LE: Jason Jones
RE: Ziggy Ansah
DT: Haloti Ngata
DT: Tyrunn Walker
MLB: Stephen Tulloch
WLB: DeAndre Levy
SLB: Tahir Whitehead
CB: Darius Slay
CB: Rashean Mathis
FS: Glover Quin
SS: James Ihedigbo