7 Late-Round NFL Draft Prospects Perfectly Suited for Detroit Lions
So much time is spent worrying about the first-round pick, fans often don't realize how important the late rounds can be to a successful franchise.
And it's OK. I get it. The top guys are the sexy picks. They're the players fans hope will push the team over the hump by being that needed playmaker at a currently weak position.
But ignorance can no longer be tolerated—not with this wealth of knowledge (not unlike the wealth of talent in the 2014 NFL draft) at our disposal. This is especially true when it has been specifically tailored to the Detroit Lions.
I'll stop with the act. Unless it was working? No? Fine. Click through for the players who could be drafted after the fourth round and would fit nicely into the Lions' plans.
Stanford Safety Ed Reynolds
Recent addition James Ihedigbo is a stopgap, not a long-term answer to the safety question the Lions created when they released Louis Delmas. However, his presence on the roster means it's unlikely that Detroit will be adding a safety toward the top of the draft.
Instead, they could look to grab Ed Reynolds in a later round. Many, such as Bleacher Report's draft guru Matt Miller, have Reynolds going in the fifth round, so he would fit the parameters of his slideshow.
Reynolds is a rangy guy with the right size (6'1", 207 pounds) to excel at the next level. He handled the difficult duties of being a safety in a complex defense which means he should take well to professional coaching.
That's good considering most of his deficiencies (inconsistent tackling and bad angles) can be fixed through coaching and repetitions, meaning he could end up having the impact of a much higher pick a couple of years down the road when Ihedigbo's time in Detroit expires.
Michigan State Safety Isaiah Lewis
Fair warning. I went to Michigan State and saw quite a bit more of Lewis than most other prospects.
However, that doesn't change a thing. Lewis is the exact type of player general managers should pluck with a third-day pick.
Lewis is a hard-hitting playmaker who was an oft-overlooked linchpin of the impressive Spartan defense. He lacks the prototypical size (5'10", 211 pounds) and won't light up the stopwatch (4.6 40), but he's an instinctual player who defended nine passes last year alone.
As mentioned previously, strong safety isn't a position of need in 2014. That's why taking a flyer on Lewis and giving him time to learn behind Ihedigbo could result in a solid contributor to a sound defense.
Wisconsin Wide Receiver Jared Abbrederis
Detroit won't be looking for a top receiver this late in the draft. Some guy named Calvin Johnson has done pretty well as a No. 1, and Golden Tate should fill up the stat sheet opposite him.
Additionally, there's a good chance the Lions take a wide receiver within the first two or three rounds to add another explosive element. And if they don't, here's hoping they take a shot on De'Anthony Thomas with one of those compensatory fourth-rounders, which disqualifies him here.
However, there is still room on the team for a consistent pair of hands who can make defenses pay when the Lions spread the field. Nothing from Kris Durham and Kevin Ogletree has screamed that the position is fine and the more competition at the position the better.
That leaves the door open for Jared Abbrederis. What he lacks in size (6'1", 195 pounds), he makes up for with an uncanny ability to get open and haul in passes. That should serve Matthew Stafford well because there will be plenty of attention paid to Detroit's more potent pass-catchers.
Alabama Wide Receiver Kevin Norwood
I might have cheated here. There seems to be a bit of buzz building around Alabama's once-hidden gem. In fact, the aforementioned draft guru, Miller, might have blown his cover by discussing his strong hands.
Those two words should carry a lot of weight in Detroit. After a year of leading the league in drops, a wide receiver with consistency and the ability to cash in on opportunities presented in the previous slide should pique every fan's interest.
Much like Abbrederis, skeptics will be worried about how high Norwood's ceiling is. But that isn't really a concern. Detroit isn't looking to replace "Megatron" right now with a late-round pick. The Lions are trying to find reliable pass-catchers who can move the chains.
Norwood can do that. His extra inch might give him a slight edge over Abbrederis, but if Detroit can grab either one of these guys in the fifth round, general manager Martin Mayhew would be wise to pull the trigger.
Florida State Center Bryan Stork
Late-round picks are about building depth, taking flyers on possible projects-turned-playmakers and for finding developmental replacements. This pick falls under the last option.
Bryan Stork isn't going to wow you with his athleticism. To be fair, not many centers this low in the draft should. It's not a naturally athletic position.
However, when compared with another late prospect like Utah State's Tyler Larsen, there's more to like on the intangible side of things. Larsen is known for giving up on plays; Stork is known for looking for someone to block at all times.
That type of tenacity and attitude should earn Stork a chance to learn from another undersized, aggressive center who is getting a bit long in the tooth. So long as Dominic Raiola doesn't view him as a present threat to his roster spot, the relationship could be beneficial to both the young center and the franchise.
Michigan Offenisve Guard Michael Schofield
This isn't just shameless pandering to the other half of Detroit fans who are still sneering about the inclusion of a Spartan. Well, not completely.
The Lions need more depth along the offensive line. Michigan man Michael Schofield is a versatile offensive lineman who started out as a guard and kicked out to tackle for the last two seasons.
He performed well during Senior Bowl week, showcasing an ability to handle one-on-one battles. He might never become the replacement the Lions will eventually need for Rob Sims, but he can handle just about every duty should injuries strike.
Arizona Cornerback Shaquille Richardson
Every fan, expert and hack has the Lions drafting a cornerback early. I'm not one of them. I'll let you decide which category I fall into.
Instead, the Lions must allow the young guys they have behind Chris Houston time to develop or at least give them enough of an opportunity to prove they aren't going to be contributors at a position that traditionally takes a few years to bloom.
Even with that attitude, Mayhew should certainly look to add another guy to the mix. He can do that late and get the type of big cornerback defensive coordinator Teryl Austin desires.
Shaquille Richardson stands all of 6'0" and has long arms to help keep wide receivers in front of him. His 4.43 pro-day 40-yard dash also displays the type of speed needed to recover and keep pace. The raw assets are there with Richardson. If Austin brings him along slowly, Detroit could unearth a gem at the back of the draft.