We here at Pride Of Detroit have an annual tradition of making bold predictions for the Detroit Lions NFL Draft. Typically, it is Alex Reno putting himself out there, but our draft guru is busy putting the final touches on his mock draft.
Since I am not the kind of person that can replace Reno’s endless depth of draft knowledge alone, I brought my friend Ryan Mathews with me. You guys may know him. Together, we are going to tag team eight bold predictions for the NFL 2017 Draft, because we’re overachievers.
Jeremy prediction No. 1 - The Lions’ first pick will be an offensive skill player
Mock drafts have rightfully focused on a defensive player for the Lions with the 21st overall pick. But the deeper we get into draft season, the more it seems like players that would end up being the best fit in Detroit—Haason Reddick, Derek Barnett, etc.—won’t be there at 21. However, one of the top tier receivers, running backs or tight ends will be there and will present great value for a moderate need.
Possible targets: WR John Ross; TE David Njoku; RB Dalvin Cook
Ryan prediction No. 1 - Detroit will draft a wide receiver before the end of round four
While Anquan Boldin hems and haws, the Lions have a legitimate need at wideout. Boldin’s targets and productions won’t be easy to replace, and they definitely won’t be distributed amongst the receivers currently on the roster.
And yes, Bucky Hodges counts as a wide receiver.
Possible targets: WR Corey Davis, WR Cooper Kupp, WR Carlos Henderson, WR Isaiah Ford
Jeremy prediction No. 2 - The Lions will trade a player on draft day
The Lions haven’t traded away a player on draft day since 2007. [Editor’s note: Originally, this said 2003. However, the Lions traded away Josh McCown and Mike Williams to the Raiders in 2007. For whatever reason, this trade isn’t listed on the Lions’ official list of transactions from 2007]
But something tells me plans are brewing in the Lions draft room. The obvious candidate here is Laken Tomlinson, who became quite expendable after Detroit acquired T.J. Lang. The aggressiveness Quinn showed by outbidding Seattle for Lang tells me he wants little to do with Tomlinson, and the former 2015 first-round pick still has quite a bit of value, especially in a draft with so few offensive line prospects.
Some dark-horse candidates to be traded on draft day include Eric Ebron, Joe Dahl, Jake Rudock and the boldest of bold: Theo Riddick.
Ryan prediction No. 2 - Detroit will trade up at some point in the draft
The guy who wrote a series of articles dedicated to trading back and acquiring more draft capital is now changing his tune. It’s entirely possible the Lions could trade out of the first round completely if a quarterback drops to 21 and the value is there for Detroit, of course, and I wouldn’t have a problem with that scenario playing itself out. I’ve also talked myself into the Lions trading up to snag a few prospects that may start to slip on draft day.
Charles Harris has been rising up draft boards over the weekend, and if his stock comes at the expense of some of the other defensive linemen, Detroit could take a chance, package some picks and grab one of the elite talents in the draft.
Possible targets: EDGE Solomon Thomas, LB Haason Reddick, DL Jonathan Allen
Jeremy prediction No. 3 - A defensive tackle will be taken before a defensive end
Finding a good edge rusher should be one of Detroit’s primary goals in this draft, but this class is incredibly deep at that position. The Lions can take their time if the player they want isn’t there in the first two days.
Defensive tackle, however, is just as big of a need, and the 2017 defensive tackle draft class is not all that impressive. There should be a sense of urgency for the Lions to get a defensive tackle early in this draft, and I think they’ll do it before addressing a defensive end. While the Lions would obviously prefer a 3-tech, they should take whatever they can get at the position, considering the lack of long-term talent at the position outside of A’Shawn Robinson.
Possible targets: DT Caleb Brantley, DT Eddie Vanderdoes, DT Dalvin Tomlinson
Ryan prediction No. 3 - At least five of the Lions eight draft picks will be on defense
It’s no secret the Lions need help on defense: Detroit finished dead last in DVOA for team defense according to Football Outsiders. From witnessing just one of Bob Quinn’s drafts, it’s clear he has a firm grasp on where the team could stand to improve. Last year it was the trenches, and Quinn didn’t shy away from drafting three offensive linemen in last year’s draft in the first five rounds.
This NFL Draft is brimming with defensive talent, and with Detroit having so many areas where they can improve their depth and prepare themselves for the future, Quinn will hit the draft hard when it comes to improving his defense.
Possible targets: LB Jarrad Davis, LB Raekwon McMillan, EDGE Tanoh Kpassagnon, EDGE Takkarist McKinley, CB Teez Tabor, CB Brandon Wilson
Jeremy prediction No. 4 - Jabrill Peppers gets selected before Taco Charlton
For my final 2017 NFL Draft prediction, I give you the Wolverine special. This has nothing to do with the Lions, as I don’t think Detroit will select either player. However, I think there’s just something about Peppers that will draw interest from at least one risk-taking team. He’s a player that will drum up excitement among the fanbase, provide play-making ability on special teams and potentially offense, and provide the kind of athleticism that allows him to play a versatile role on defense. Admittedly, he doesn’t fit into a neatly curated box in the NFL, but some team is going to look at him and dream up a bunch of uses for him.
Taco Charlton, on the other hand, seems to be slipping down draft boards. I have nothing against him as a prospect, but it’s worth repeating just how new his success at defensive end is.
Ryan prediction No. 4 - Detroit will not draft a running back in the 2017 NFL Draft
It’s just hard to imagine a situation in where the value will meet the selection. Dalvin Cook in the first round is too risky given medicals—and you can’t thump for Cook if you think Abdullah is injury-prone. Kareem Hunt in the second round is probably too rich, but there’s likely no shot he’s available at No. 85, same goes for James Conner or Samaje Perine.
Detroit has a need for a wide body to punish defenders and pick up short yards to gain, but there are plenty of other areas to build with their eight selections, and running back should sit pretty far down those list of priorities.