The Detroit Lions were active in free agency and will now look to the NFL Draft to continue building a team to get back into the playoff hunt.
In one of the NFL’s toughest divisions of 2018, the Detroit Lions were stuck at the bottom. In new head coach Matt Patricia’s first season at the helm the Lions struggled mightily on both sides of the ball. A successful 2018 NFL Draft class has fans hopeful for the future though. Add on an active front office during free agency and the makings of a team that can compete for the crown of the NFC North are there.
The 2018 NFL Draft was a great one for Detroit. In the first round they grabbed their center of the future in Frank Ragnow, one of the safest picks in the draft. They followed that up by grabbing an electric rookie running back in Kerryon Johnson. Johnson’s presence should help Matthew Stafford and the entire Lions offense in the long run.
Tracy Walker, who they selected in the third round, should see an increased role in the defensive backfield in his second year. Fourth rounder Da’Shawn Hand should factor into the defensive line rotation after an impressive debut when he saw the field. The fifth round pick of Tyrell Crosby gives the team a versatile offensive lineman who is set to compete for a spot at right guard as it stands.
Overall that 2018 draft class can help push the team forward. It also did not address some major holes on the roster. That is where Patricia and the Lions general manager Bob Quinn got to work in the 2019 offseason. Signing Trey Flowers will give them an immediate impact pass rusher and make the loss of Ezekiel Ansah an afterthought.
Justin Coleman as a nickle corner is an excellent addition to a secondary that struggled in that area. Tight end Jesse James should contribute and at least gives them a serviceable option after a year where that position did little for Detroit’s offense. Finally slot receiver Danny Amendola should fill in for Golden Tate who the Lions traded away mid-season.
Overall this is a talented roster with some holes to fill. Detroit, like some other teams, benefit from the depth of this defensive class of the 2019 NFL Draft. The board can fall in a lot of ways but very few are nightmare scenarios for the Lions. They are a team that has a lot of options after an active free agency and should come out well.
This mock draft was done using The Draft Network’s mock draft machine and the site’s predictive big board. There are no trades, only the teams selecting in their current spots.
Round 1 – Pick 8
Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
An often used tactic among NFL front offices is to address depleted positions along their roster in free agency and via the draft. That is what Detroit should be doing with their defensive end group. Signing Trey Flowers was a great upgrade and gives them one known commodity who still has room to grow coming off the edge. Matt Patricia being a defensive coach should not settle for just one weapon getting after the passer. Successful NFL defenses feature multiple quarterback hunters and no team can ever have enough.
Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat is a rising prospect who makes a ton of sense for Detroit inside the top ten. An explosive combine was another boxed check that keeps Sweat rising up draft boards. The Michigan State transfer played two seasons for the Bulldogs and was a dominant force off the edge racking up double digit sacks in both. He’s got octopus arms that he knows how to use extremely well. His first step quickness at his size is reminiscent of NFL greats like Julius Peppers.
Sweat is not a complete prospect just yet but he is a very good one. He can still work on his bend and ability to corner. That is not as impactful for some other rushes because Sweat’s excellent hands and pass rush plan account for his lack of bend in his hips.
Flowers and Sweat give Patricia an elite duo on the outside to compliment the pieces on the inside. This would make Detroit a fearsome group up front. They will need it as well going up against Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins and the rest of the talented NFC offenses every year.