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2018 NFL mock draft: Lions prioritize defense, select Clemson DE

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With the impending free agency of Ezekiel Ansah, the Lions select a defensive end from Clemson in Dan Kadar’s latest mock draft.

Clemson v South Carolina Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It’s hard to believe it’s already that time of the year, but ‘tis the season.

Dan Kadar of SB Nation’s Mocking the Draft released the most recent edition of his 2018 NFL mock draft, and he has the Lions addressing a major need: the defensive end position.

Selecting 19th, based on current NFL Draft order, Kadar has the Lions selecting Clelin Ferrell, a defensive end from Clemson:

19. Detroit Lions - Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

The pick here was going to be a Clemson player. Whether it’s Ferrell, fellow end Austin Bryant or defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, they all make sense in Detroit. Ferrell uses his length and power to create pressure, and he’s a good run-stopper.

Earlier in the month, Ferrell was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week after Clemson’s 38-31 victory over NC State—his second time this season. Here’s the press release and summary of his impressive performance:

Ferrell had a career-high 12 tackles, including nine first hits and three assists in Clemson’s win over NC State. The sophomore had five tackles for loss, second most in a game by an ACC player this year (the most is 5.5 by Ferrell against Syracuse). Ferrell also had a quarterback sack for nine yards in a key situation. Ferrell is the only player in the nation this season – and the first in Clemson history – to post two games with at least five tackles for loss. Ferrell was honored as an ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week for the second time this season.

Regardless of how things play out with Ezekiel Ansah’s impending free agency, it’s pretty clear the Lions need to inject their defensive line with some athleticism and playmaking ability.

Against the rest of the league, Detroit ranks 20th in sack rate percentage (5.6 percent), t-21st in total sacks (23) and has been hemorrhaging yards on the ground to opposing run-offenses; the Lions have surrendered 1,278 rushing yards (ninth) at 4.2 yards per attempt (12th). While neither of these plain-stated statistics are too alarming on their own, Detroit has given up 77 first downs on rushing plays, the fifth-worst total in the NFL, and none too shocking to see, as the Lions inability to get off the field on third down has become a recurring problem over the past couple of weeks.