The Detroit Lions opened the year looking like one of the strongest and most complete teams in the league. Despite still sitting at 9-4 and holding the third seed in current NFC playoff projections, cracks are starting to show in this team as they repeatedly get picked on in the same areas of weakness. It’s nice to not be focused on the draft this early for once, but it’s hard not to think about where the Lions have gaps to fill when I watch them on Sundays.
Question of the day: Which position(s) should the Lions target in the 2024 NFL draft?
I would love to say quarterback, but I don’t think that’s a realistic ask given this regime’s repeated commitment to Jared Goff and the fact that they’ll be picking in the bottom third of the draft.
My answer: More realistically, I think the first pick has to be an EDGE or a cornerback.
I brought this up on Tuesday, and you all had plenty of thoughts to share on the topic:
So uhh not to lose sight of the rest of the season, but Lions’s first draft pick has gotta be EDGE/CB or bust , right?— Hamza Baccouche (@HamzaPOD) December 12, 2023
I know, before you say it, saying a position has to be the pick is a strong statement, and the Lions should pick the best player available and we should trust Brad Holmes. That’s all true. I also think this class of edge rushers is deep enough that between edge and cornerback, you can find a guy who fits this team while simultaneously picking the best player available.
The issue with those positions on the Lions roster is that they’re full of complementary pieces. Spending a late second- or third-round pick on those positions just gives you more of what you already have. The Lions are lacking a clear CB1, and shifting Cam Sutton and Jerry Jacobs one slot down, the depth chart suddenly makes the secondary a lot stronger.
Aidan Hutchinson has been a one-man show in pass rush this year. But with all the extra attention he’s getting, most of his sacks come on clean up duty, when someone else flushes a quarterback out of the pocket and into Hutchinson’s arms. Adding another strong pass rusher to pair with Hutchinson would do wonders.
If the Lions don’t address those positions early, I’ll be very hesitant to believe the Lions are anywhere near a serious contender. Another Day 2 defensive lineman with “great explosion” and “who shows real flashes of potential”—like we’ve heard with Josh Paschal, Alim McNeill, and Levi Onwuzurike—just isn’t going to cut it as far as this team’s needs go. Same goes for adding another corner who doesn’t slot in as one of this team’s best.
I know it’s easy for me to stand on my high horse and preach about this in absolutes, when in reality the draft is a crapshoot and no rookie can reasonably be expected to be a home run from day one. On top of that, the draft is all contingent on the Lions’ free agent moves. However, if the Lions turn a blind eye to these positions or half-commit to upgrades this offseason, I’m going to have serious reservations about this team heading into 2024.
Which position do you think the Lions should target in the 2024 NFL Draft? Let us know in the comments below.