The Detroit Lions have the best receiver in football with Calvin Johnson and a quarterback in Matthew Stafford who has finished among the top three in total passing yards for three years in a row. Why have they not made a push in the playoffs yet? Well, they also have a combined record of 11-21 over the past two seasons and play in the same division as the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears which makes it even more tough. With a new head coach in Jim Caldwell, the Lions hope they can finally make a run in the playoffs.
In order to do so they will need to improve the defense significantly. This draft is filled with defensive players who are capable of making immediate impact which works out perfectly for the Lions moving forward. Here are five different directions the Lions may go with the 10th overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Lions have a pair of veteran cornerbacks on the roster in Chris Houston and Rashean Mathis plus two youngsters with upside, but they still lack a premier talent at the position. With the 10th overall pick in their hands, the Lions will probably have their choice of any corner in the draft. Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State is the top guy; he has outstanding size (6-foot, 202 pounds), length, burst and ball skills. On top of that, Gilbert is arguably the most gifted kickoff returner in the draft. He could provide Detroit will the shutdown corner that they seemingly need and could help their pass defense instantly.
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Other than Megatron, the Lions do not have any weapons in their receiving core. With guys on the board like Mike Evans and a possible Sam Watkins, it wouldn't be surprising if they decided to go with a receiver. The team moved aggressively to bolster its offense by signing former Seattle Seahawks receiver Golden Tate in free agency. It would not hurt to add another receiving option to help Megatron out and spread out the offense a bit more and more unpredictable. According to nfl.com, the team visited with Sammy Watkins, but the Lions would likely have to trade up to have a chance at drafting the Clemson speedster. If Mike Evans (Texas A&M) is gone by the time their pick comes up.
Eric Ebron TE, North Carolina
Tight end prospect Eric Ebron could be another possibility since he could produce both as a receiving option and as a blocker on the run. Former North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron told a team he recently visited and that he expects to be drafted by the Detroit Lions.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Lions did sign Glover Quin last offseason and James Ihedigbo joined him this year. That is definitely not enough in the secondary to compete with teams like Chicacgo and Green Bay who have receivers like Brandon Marshall and Jordy Nelson. New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin came over from Baltimore, where, as the Ravens' secondary coach, he worked with a premier playmaker at the position in Ed Reed. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama) would be a great fit in Austin's defense, with his excellent instincts, range and production.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Detroit's offensive line played very well in 2013 under Jeremiah Washburn, who was in his first year as the offensive line coach; Stafford was sacked just 23 times, less than almost every other starting signal-caller in the NFL. Selecting Taylor Lewan would add more depth to their interior offensive line for the future and could potentially provide them a future pro bowler. If Detroit is looking for guard depth, Trai Turner from LSU could also be an option in that round. Turner has very quick feet and is physical at the point of attack, though he's a bit stiff when adjusting in space.
The Lions indeed have a lot of choices with their tenth overall pick and have many different routes they can go. It will be very interesting to see what they decide to do with their pick whether they trade it or keep it. With a new coach in town in Caldwell the future looks promising for this club and this draft will be very important in their future if they want to compete in the NFC.
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