Detroit Lions April Scouting Report
Draft preview: The Lions enter the draft with picks 7, 41, 72, 101, 112, and 153. That is a total of 6 picks with an extra pick in round 3 but no pick in round 6 and 7.
QB: The Lions restructured the contract of QB Jared Goff. By doing that, it opened cap room this year and pushed money into next year, making it more likely that Goff will be here at least 2 years. This could make it less likely that the Lions pick a quarterback at 7. Of course it looks like the quarterbacks will get gobbled up early so that could be moot. Basically, if they are in love with one of the top quarterback prospects (Trey Lance?) and he is there at 7, Goff and his contract wouldn’t necessarily prevent them from pulling the trigger. Ideally, the Lions would be able to trade down and add more picks if there is a team desperate for a quarterback trying to move up, but with the recent wheeling and dealing there are fewer potential trade partners out there. Remember, the Lions are basically tanking this year and there is little urgency to win now, so they would be open to any trade down scenario that includes draft capital for 2022. Bottom line, I think the Lions showing interest in this group of quarterbacks is a smokescreen.
RB: In keeping with the idea that the Lions are clearly rebuilding, I believe they only gave a 1 year contract to every outside free agent they signed this spring, except for RB Jamaal Williams who got a 2 year deal. Williams is lined up to be the complement to RB D’Andre Swift, Could they use a mid round pick on a back to compete with RB Kerryon Johnson or at least add depth? Perhaps. I don’t watch a ton of college football, but I see some very productive backs who are projected for the middle to late rounds.
WR/TE: The Lions made a couple of free agent pickups at receiver since our last report, adding WR Kalif Raymond, who is more of a return specialist, and WR Damion Ratley. Neither one moves the needle, and if I had to guess what the Lions would do at 7, as of today I would say they most likely draft a receiver. It’s a combination of need and best available that looks like a fit, because as it stands now the Lions probably have the worst group of receivers in the league. So take your pick – Chase, Waddle, Smith. One of them might be gone by 7, but I think the Lions would be happy with any of them. The receiver group really needs to be upgraded in both the short term and long term. Also, upgrading the talent level at receiver would help provide a more accurate evaluation of Goff. Would the Lions consider Kyle Pitts? Probably, even though the haters would have a field day if the Lions used yet another high first round pick on a tight end (Hockenson, Ebron). To be fair, Pitts doesn’t project as a traditional tight end, so if they went in that direction I would give them the benefit of the doubt. But I think one of the Alabama receivers ends up being the pick. If they go in a different direction in round 1, you can bet they will come back and grab a receiver on day 2.
OL: The roster has been in a state of upheaval this offseason as the long rebuild is underway, but the offensive line unit has been fairly stable. Penei Sewell looks like an elite tackle prospect and they would certainly consider him at 7. But overall I think they will look to fill other holes on the roster in the early rounds.
DL: We don’t really know for sure what type of scheme the Lions will be using on defense, but we know they could still use help rushing the passer, even if this scheme is more aggressive than whatever they did under Matt Patricia.
LB: The Lions need help at every level of their defense but linebacker looks especially thin. Most think Micah Parsons of Penn State is the best linebacker in the draft, but they don’t think he is good enough to go at 7, so if a trade down happens, keep an eye on him.
DB: The Lions picked up a few defensive backs in free agency in recent days. Remember they drafted CB Jeff Okudah at 3 last year, and they are counting on him taking a big step forward. More depth at corner is always good, and they could also use another safety, so look for help in the secondary as early as round 2.
ST: The Lions lost PK Matt Prater in free agency. They signed PK Randy Bullock as his replacement. If they had some extra late round picks I would have said maybe they draft a kicker late to compete with Bullock, but as of now their final pick is at 153.
Next month we will review the draft.
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