The Detroit Lions have already made a big signing in the "undrafted free agency" by reportedly picking up Boise State star quarterback Kellen Moore. While he is not going to start a whole lot for the Lions if everything goes according to plan, he does provide them with a great clipboard holder who could start and win some games in relief.
However, one would hope that this is not all that the Lions will be doing after the draft, as there are still plenty of good players who went undrafted. In this article, I will run through a few who the Lions should definitely target.
Chris Polk (RB): Washington
Polk is probably the most surprising player to go undrafted, and for that reason is being predicted by many to have Arian Foster potential. He was a powerful between-the-tackles runner in college who has great vision, quick feet and a running style that lets him brush off weak tackles and grind out yards. He lacks elite burst and only plays at one speed, but can consistently make yards up the gut. He is also a decent pass protector and one of the best receiving running backs in the draft.
Polk was downgraded because of the injuries he played through in his rookie season, but behind a good offensive line he could be a star. The Lions may not have great odds of getting him because of their offensive mentality and poor run blocking, but he would provide another talented running back to platoon with Mikel Leshoure, Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith if they could sign him.
Leonard Johnson (CB): Iowa State
Johnson is another player who surprisingly was undrafted. While not a star, he was expected to be taken in the fourth- to fifth-round bracket, which raises questions that there is something wrong with his health or work ethic. He also lacks great height, footwork and deep speed.
However, he is an effective zone cornerback who can press at the line and stop completions. He has a knack for breaking up passes and has great lateral agility to stick with slot receivers. I did not think the Lions should draft him, but as a free-agent pickup he has the skills to become a good depth player at the next level.
Who should the Lions target in undrafted free agency?
Robert Golden (CB/S): Arizona
Golden was one of my consistent seventh-round picks for the Lions in mock drafts, and has the skills to contribute to the secondary and special teams. He has decent athleticism and has good instincts in zone coverage. At corner his poor skills tracking receivers downfield and lack of speed would probably demote him to a dimeback role, but he is a sure tackler who could stick as a safety.
While he has not capitalized on his physical gifts yet, if he gets better technically he could push Amari Spievey in the future to start alongside Louis Delmas.
Wayne Tribue (G): Temple
Tribue is a powerfully built guard with the frame and strength to be a starter in a man-blocking scheme like the Lions use. He can overpower opponents in the run game, and was great pulling for the Owls. He is also better than expected for a guard of his size in pass protection, and has the quick feet and anchor to deal with interior pass-rushers of any form.
His technique is not great as with almost all late-round players with upside, and cannot block at the second level, but could fight with Stephen Peterman for playing time midway through his rookie season, and develop into a strong run blocker who can start.
Donte Paige-Moss (DE): UNC
Paige-Moss is one of those players who failed to perform to expectations in 2011. After a solid season in 2010, he was thought to be one of the premier 3-4 defensive end prospects in this draft. Unfortunately, his questionable motor, lack of technique and lack of strength killed his final college season, and he was not drafted as a result.
However, he has long arms, good size for a specialist pass-rusher at defensive end and looked explosive in 2010 on tape. While he is a serious project, and could very easily bust, he has the chance of developing into a Cliff Avril-type pass-rusher who can kill offensive tackles with speed. In an undrafted free agent, he offers the perfect amount of potential.