May 12, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Review: Detroit Lions

#85 Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Detroit Lions
Division: NFC North | Last Season Record: 7-9

What Needed to be addressed in the Draft: The Lions have some young corners who they hope can come along, and bringing back Rashean Mathis was a good move, but they would have been smart to bring in another corner who can compete for a starting job. James Ihedigbo was a solid signing as well. He's coming off of a career year, but is he a long term answer at safety? The Lions may also want to come away with a new WILL linebacker in this draft, as well as another pass rusher.

Even after adding Golden Tate via free agency, the Lions were most likely to target a receiver or tight end in the first two rounds. Finding center Dominic Raiola's eventual replacement should also have been a priority.

Individual Draft Picks:

Round 1

10. (10) Eric Ebron*, TE
Experience: Junior | School: North Carolina
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 253 lbs.

Round 2

8. (40) Kyle Van Noy, OLB
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Brigham Young
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 246 lbs.

Round 3

12. (76) Travis Swanson, C
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Arkansas
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 312 lbs.

Round 4

33. (133) Nevin Lawson, CB
Experience: Senior | School: Utah State
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 190 lbs.

36. (136) Larry Webster, DE
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Bloomsburg
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 248 lbs.

Round 5

18. (158) Caraun Reid, DT
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Princeton
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 305 lbs.

Round 6

13. (189) TJ Jones, WR
Experience: Senior | School: Notre Dame
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 190 lbs.

Round 7

14. (229) Nate Freese, K
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Boston College
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 192 lbs.

Two Picks of Note:

Best Value Pick:

Kyle Van Noy, OLB (Round 2, Pick 8)
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Brigham Young
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 246 lbs.

Analysis: Kyle Van Noy will be an impact player. I think this is a good fit for him. He projects best in a Sio Moore type role as a WILL or SAM linebacker who can rush the passer on third downs. The Lions got a damn good football player in the second round.

Most Questionable Pick:

Larry Webster, DE (Round 4, Pick 36)
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Bloomsburg
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 248 lbs.

Analysis: Webster has an impressive frame and good length for the defensive end position, but he's a project who should have been a 7th round pick at best. Not a fan of this pick.

Undrafted Free Agent Signings:

Most Notable

Cornelius Lucas., OT
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Kansas State
Height: 6-8 | Weight: 316 lbs.

Analysis: Lucas is a big offensive lineman who could provide much needed depth for the Lions at the tackle position should he make the 53-man roster.

Other Free Agent Signings

Jacob Maxwell, TE, Louisana-Lafayette
Gabe Lynn, S, Oklahoma
James Franklin, QB, Missouri
Jerome Couplin, S, William & Mary
Andrew Peacock, WR, Appalachian State
Cornelius Lucas, OT, Kansas State
AJ Dalton, OT, Robert Morris
Mohammed Seisay, S, Nebraska
Greg Hickman, DT, Florida International
Chad Abram, FB, Florida State
AJ Highsmith, DB, Miami

Draft Review:

Analysis: Eric Ebron was a bit of a reach in the first round, but he has a ton of upside. It was surprising that they took him in the first round after signing Brandon Pettigrew, but Ebron is more talented and athletic than any tight end they currently have on the roster. He's essentially going to be another receiver.

I absolutely loved the Kyle Van Noy pick! He should be a day one starter, and impact player. Getting Travis Swanson in the third was also good value. It is very likely that he will be the starting center after this season.

While the Larry Webster pick was questionable, the Lions did fairly well with their day 3 picks. Nevin Lawson (4th round) gives the Lions more depth at corner, and Caraun Reid (5th round) gives them needed depth at defensive tackle. He should have been a first fourth round pick.

TJ Jones was another good value pick in the 6th round. He's an ideal slot receiver. If Ryan Broyles can't get healthy, expect Jones to fill that role nicely. The Lions also came away with one of the draft's best kickers in the 7th round, Nate Freese.

The Verdict: Though the Lions didn't address the secondary early, they drafted very well. Eric Ebron is going to be a big time weapon for Matthew Stafford, Kyle Van Noy gives them another pass rusher, while providing solid play at outside linebacker. They also got a future starter in center Travis Swanson, and a solid slot receiver in the 6th round (TJ Jones).

Overall Grade: B