The Detroit Lions need to upgrade several positions and will look to fill some of these needs during the 2009 NFL Draft. Four positions need to be addressed: quarterback, the offensive line, defensive tackle, and middle linebacker are crucial to their rebuilding future.
While there has been speculation to whom the Lions may draft first overall, nothing is certain until April 25th.
Three intriguing prospects not included here are Rashad Jennings, a power back from Liberty, Ramses Barden a 6’6 wide receiver from Cal Poly, and Sean Smith a 6’3 cornerback from Utah.
All three players have displayed tremendous ability at the combine and/or pro day upping their value to the first few rounds.
Six prospects have been targeted for the Lions from the 3rd round and below. While the Lions have been the talk of the NFL regarding their 3 selections in the first 33 picks overall, nothing has been said about who they should target later in the draft.
This may be difficult to determine, since no one can predict where every player will go. Draft experts cannot even agree on which player should be selected first overall.
These six prospects display certain flaws because they project to be 3rd round or second day selections.
Many players drafted on the second day have become Hall of Fame caliber players, yet they tend to come with more questions marks then players drafted before them.
Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz stated it best, when talking about the difference between the first overall pick and draft picks in the later rounds.
Schwartz said, "If you're drafting a guy in the third or fourth round, you can start saying, 'OK, well, he doesn't have this, but, hey, it's the third round. "
Here are the 6 prospects the Lions should target in the later rounds in alphabetical order.
Barnes is a YouTube sensation with his big hit on California running back Jahvid Best. Best said afterwards that no one has hit him as hard as Barnes did.
He impressed at the combine ranking in the top 5 CBs in the 40 yard dash (4.45), vertical jump (38.5 inches), and broad jump (10 feet, 8 inches).
Barnes also scored a 41 out of a possible 50 on the wonderlic test. A test of 50 problem solving questions with only 12 minutes to answer the questions, the average score for a CB is 18.
He is a physical corner that has good ability or breaking up and intercepting passes. His biggest weakness is his footwork; he also needs to show his shoulder has healed after the injury shortened his 2008 season.
Burnett is a raw, talented cornerback that has excelled in the collegiate return game. He racked up countless numbers of awards in Conference USA, including Special Teams Player of the Year.
In 2008, he was the only player in the nation to rank in the top 20 in both kickoff and punt returns. Burnett shows good speed running a 4.49 second 40 yard dash.
Mike Mayock, the NFL Network’s draft expert, named Burnett the “Best Value Pick” among cornerbacks during the combine. Mayock feels Burnett can be a strong performer in nickel coverage and as a returner.
Burnett is smaller than many teams would like, but shows tremendous upside in the return game. Also as a Criminal Justice major, NFL teams can rule him out as a troublemaker.
Nick Hennessey-Colgate University-OL
Hennessey recently completed his pro day at Colgate with 6 or more NFL teams in attendance including the Lions and Patriots. This was quite impressive for a Division 2 player, especially since quarterback Nate Davis, a potential second round pick, had only Colts representatives at his pro day.
He was identified as a Top 10 offensive tackle by the National Scouting service prior to the season.
Hennessey attended the world renounced Phillips Academy of Andover, which boasts alumni such as President George H.W. Bush and his son, President George W. Bush, as well as current Patriots coach and legend Bill Belichick.
He was a two time All-Patriots League selection and played in the Texas vs. the Nation Challenge.
Hennessey played right tackle at Colgate as well as offensive guard. He projects as a late round pick with upside.
Johnson started his Alabama career as a walk on and ended it as an All-American. He has a passion for the game and is highly regarded for his field intelligence and leadership.
He is extremely tough, sufficient in pass coverage and shows the ability to deliver devastating hits. Johnson finished second on Alabama’s defense in tackles with 89 and shows traits of becoming a productive NFL starter.
Concerns have arisen about Johnson’s speed, which he answered with a 4.49 second 40 yard dash. He lacks the ideal size for the safety position in the NFL and has added weight attempting to suppress any doubters.
Johnson has heart and will prove he is a starting NFL safety and if he doesn’t succeed he should become a special teams star.
Jordan Norwood-WR-Penn St.
5’11 180lbs 4.57 40
Norwood was considered the 3rd Penn St. wide receiver, behind Deon Butler and Derrick Williams. His size and moderate speed make his a second day projection. He ran a 4.57 40 yard dash.
His strengths are his great hands and willingness to go across the middle and had a 38 inch vertical jump, which ranked 6th among receivers at the combine.
Norwood was considered more of a basketball player coming into college, his brother played on the George Mason Final Four team a few years ago. His father was Penn State’s defensive backs coach and was hired by Baylor as their defensive coordinator.
He also made the Big Ten All Academic Team in his sophomore year.
Norwood possesses great hands shown through the several outstanding catches in his college career; many can be seen on YouTube. Norwood is a smart player on and off the field and has the potential to succeed in the NFL.
Pryor disappointed after a very productive sophomore season, in which is had 42 tackles, including 7 for a loss and 5 sacks. At one point he was one of the top prospects in the country; though multiple injuries could be part of the reason he is not seen in the same light.
There is a perception that he takes plays off and can be overpowered due to poor technique.
Pryor may have quelled some doubters after his senior season though, which included 29 tackles, 10 for a loss, and 4.5 sacks. He was named All-SEC second team in 2008 and also ranked in the top 10 in caused fumbles.
At times he was a dominant presence in the defensive line and if he plays up to his potential, Pryor could be a big steal in the later rounds of the draft.
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