2012 NFL Draft: Ranking 5 Best Defensive Players Detroit Lions Must Target
The Detroit Lions took care of a few concerns in free agency already.
Adding Jacob Lacey to compete for a starting cornerback position helps relieve the loss of Eric Wright in the secondary, and locking up Stephen Tulloch for five years and Cliff Avril with the franchise tag keeps the defense from last year mostly in tact.
However, there are still spots on the roster up for grabs and more will be opening in the near future.
1. Dre Kirkpatrick
The Lions secondary could use some help.
If Kirkpatrick is available when they pick with the 23rd selection, he would be a good fit in Honolulu blue.
Kirkpatrick, out of Alabama, is 6’2” and is good at using his height. He is a strong tackler, he has great instincts and he stands out in zone coverage.
Especially after losing Eric Wright to free agency, Kirkpatrick would be a boost to the Lions' group of cornerbacks.
2. Janoris Jenkins
Selecting Jenkins is a risk because of his issues off the field in the past. While it’s unlikely that he is available for Detroit in the second round, he has so much talent that taking a chance on him at that point would be worth it.
Jenkins would help improve Detroit’s secondary, one of the team’s biggest weaknesses.
Jenkins has the talent to get plucked off the board in the first 10 picks. Taking him in the second round could come with a huge reward.
3. Josh Norman
If the Lions do not get any of the three cornerbacks already mentioned, they should take a look at using their third or fourth round selection on Josh Norman.
Norman, from Coastal Carolina, has good size at 6’0”, 203 pounds. His footwork is excellent and he has good ball skills and technique when he plays off the ball.
Norman may not be as highly rated as Kirkpatrick, Gilmore or Jenkins, but he could be a solid pick in one of the middle rounds.
4. Cam Johnson
Avril will be with the team next season, but he may leave Detroit after that.
Johnson is a strong defender against the run and is a big body. He should be available in the third, or maybe fourth round. He can come in and play behind Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch, who is only under contract for two more years.
Vanden Bosch is also not the same player he used to be and the Lions will be looking for a defensive end in the near future. Allowing Johnson to play behind and learn from Avril and Vanden Bosch should set the team up nicely for when that day finally comes.
5. Audie Cole
Cole played at North Carolina State and led the team in tackles for three straight years.
Having played inside and strong-side linebacker, Cole is similar to DeAndre Levy. He has good instincts and plays well in pass coverage.
Having just re-signed Stephen Tulloch, the Lions are set with their starting linebackers for next season. But the season after that, Tulloch is the only starting linebacker with a contract. Cole could provide insurance in case Levy or Justin Durant leave town.
He also could provide depth right away as Bobby Carpenter is still on the free agent market.