Click here to return to the 2023 Reports List

Detroit Lions April Scouting Report
James Hintz

Draft preview: The Lions enter the draft with picks 2, 32, 34, 66, 97, 177, 181, and 217. You have to think the plan is to get a superstar at 2, immediate starters at 32 and 34, and solid contributors at 66 and 97. This is a team that won three games in 2021 and they badly need an infusion of exciting young talent. Ideally I would like to see them come away with an edge rusher at 2, then a linebacker and receiver at 32 and 34. Let’s explore the possibilities:

QB: Most people are aware of the situation here. You’ve got QB Jared Goff, and it feels like the Lions are treading water with him. Picking at number 2 usually puts you in prime position to take a quarterback, but this isn’t a strong group of prospects. The Lions worked with QB Malik Willis at the Senior Bowl and it seems they like him, but probably not enough to take him at 2. A lot of mock drafts have the Lions taking a quarterback at 32. It would make some sense because you would get the fifth year option with a first rounder, but do you really want to be taking the 3rd/4th/5th best guy in a weak class? The best guess is that they do not draft a quarterback in this draft, and they commit to Goff for 2022. Unless Goff has a truly great year, the Lions would then look for his replacement in the 2023 draft when they will again have the extra draft capital with the Rams first rounder. There is late word that they will be hosting Kenny Pickett on a pre-draft visit, I believe the only quarterback prospect they are hosting. I suppose there might be some people with overactive imaginations dreaming up scenarios where the Lions make a play for Baker Mayfield or maybe Kyler Murray. I don’t see it.

RB: As I mentioned last month, the Lions are probably set to roll with the one two punch of RB D’Andre Swift and RB Jamaal Williams in 2022. They have some depth guys they like, but I would like to see them use a mid to late round pick on a back to bring in more competition. The running game was adequate in 2021 but there is room for improvement.

WR/TE: We know Green Bay (22,28) and Kansas City (29,30) will be looking hard at receivers, and other teams will be looking hard at rookie receivers in round 1 because of the way the market has changed with respect to veteran receivers who we have seen get traded, get massive big money deals, etc. The Lions should still be in position to add a nice player at 32 or 34 if they look to go with a receiver. They could get by with what they have right now, which included adding WR DJ Chark, but the position still is a long term need (Chark was only a one year deal) and they really need to add a stud receiver at some point. How about WR Jameson Williams of Alabama coming off of an ACL injury – could he drop to 32? WR George Pickens of Georgia also hurt his ACL and could be picked in this range. Some people like the rising stock of WR Christian Watson from North Dakota State. The mock drafts are all over the map, but receiver is pretty deep in this draft. It is also possible they go all defense with their three premium picks. The Lions currently have nine tight ends on their offseason roster, so it would be surprising to even use a late round pick on a tight end. I actually count 82 players currently on the roster, so they will need to do some trimming if they plan on signing any undrafted free agents.

OL: The Lions are in good shape with their offensive line and it would be surprising to see them invest draft capital into the line this year. There is a school of thought that with some highly rated tackles, they could take a tackle at 2 and look to trade Taylor Decker, but I consider that very unlikely.

DL: With the Lions expected to return to more of a four man front as their base defense, we will consider the edge rushers as defensive ends for now. There will be strong consideration given to Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon), Travon Walker (Georgia), and Jermaine Johnson (Florida State). This is assuming Aidan Hutchinson goes number one. If the Jaguars pass on Hutchinson the Lions will be thrilled to grab him. My guess is that the Lions end up with Thibodeaux, but that is no lock based on some questions about whether he would fit the culture here. You know, kneecap biting and so forth. Walker has questions about his lack of production, even though he tested off the charts. Johnson would be a bit of a reach at 2.

LB: The current group of linebackers on this roster is uninspiring. There are two highly rated linebackers in Devin Lloyd of Utah and Nakobe Dean of Georgia that I think the Lions would be focused on at 32 or 34 if they are available. Dean is all over the place in mock drafts.

DB: The Lions could use a safety to pair with Tracy Walker – could that guy be Kyle Hamilton of Notre Dame? The experts say safety is not one of the premium positions like quarterback, offensive tackle or edge rusher, and I feel like Hamilton at 2 would be a mistake for that reason. But he is a great prospect. I saw Mel Kiper’s latest mock has the Lions taking CB Sauce Gardner at 2. He is a Detroit kid, but I don’t see that happening, especially after they just took a corner at 3 in 2020 and that has not gone well.

In other notes, the Lions were selected for the 2022 version of Hard Knocks, so football fans should be able to get a better feel for the Lions franchise later this summer, and while I am not too familiar with the show, perhaps there will be some interesting fantasy football nuggets coming out of it. Also, the 2024 NFL Draft will be held in Detroit. Next month we will review the draft.


Back to top of page
FFMastermind Logo

The Definitive Fantasy Information Service

Mastermind Moment

2024 Madness NFL Rookie Draft Reference Guide
Sunday, April 21st, 2024

Premium Pro Bowl and Super Bowl Package Subscribers take note. The time has come. The 2024 Madness NFL Rookie Draft Reference Guide has been released for your viewing pleasure. This

Read the Full Mastermind Moment