Detroit Lions Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer
Possibly no team with a new head coach is more talented than the Detroit Lions, but it's still general manager Martin Mayhew's job to give newcomer Jim Caldwell even more to work with in the 2014 NFL draft.
The Lions appear to have everything in place for a playoff run: a big-armed franchise quarterback, a once-in-a-generation receiver, a talented supporting cast and a dominant and disruptive defensive line. The calm and collected Caldwell, who won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts, is the next piece of the puzzle.
But to start thinking Super Bowl in Detroit, the Lions need to fill in a few more gaps in the roster structure. Mayhew will attempt to use his eight picks, including the 10th overall selection and three swings in the fourth round, to push his club past the shortcomings of recent years and into the NFL's upper tier.
In the following slides, we will provide a full 2014 draft primer for the Lions, with a complete order of draft picks, positional big board and round-by-round information and analysis.
List of 2014 Draft Picks
- First round, 10th overall (1.10)
- Second round, 45th overall (2.45)
- Third round, 76th overall (3.76)
- Fourth round, 111th overall (4.111)
- Fourth round, 133rd overall (4.133)
- Fourth round, 136th overall (4.136)
- Sixth round, 189th overall (6.189)
- Seventh round, 227th overall (7.227)
The Lions dealt their 2014 fifth-round pick to the Jaguars for receiver Mike Thomas back in October of 2012. Detroit received two fourth-round compensatory picks, at 133rd and 136th overall.
Position-by-Position Big Board
- Aaron Murray, Georgia
- Tom Savage, Pitt
- Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
- David Fales, San Jose State
- Connor Shaw, South Carolina
- Stephen Morris, Miami
- Charles Sims, West Virginia
- Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
- De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
- Jerick McKinnon, Georgina Southern
- Sammy Watkins, Clemson
- Mike Evans, Texas A&M
- Odell Beckham, LSU
- Cody Latimer, Indiana
- Marqise Lee, USC
- Allen Robinson, Penn State
- Davante Adams, Fresno State
- Martavis Bryant, Clemson
- Eric Ebron, UNC
- Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
- Jake Murphy, Utah
- Colt Lyerla, Oregon
- Larry Webster, Bloomsburg
- Taylor Lewan, Michigan
- Marcus Martin, USC
- Joel Bitonio, Nevada
- Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
- Dakota Dozier, Furman
- David Yankey, Stanford
- Ryan Groy, Wisconsin
- Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
- Aaron Donald, Pitt
- Dee Ford, Auburn
- Scott Crichton, Oregon
- James Gayle, Virginia Tech
- Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
- Larry Webster, Bloomsburg
- Khalil Mack, Buffalo
- Anthony Barr, UCLA
- Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
- Kyle Van Noy, BYU
- Christian Jones, Florida State
- Christian Kirksey, Iowa
- Telvin Smith, Florida State
- Kevin Pierre-Louis, BC
- Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
- Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
- Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
- Jason Verrett, TCU
- Bashaud Breeland, Clemson
- Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State
- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
- Calvin Pryor, Louisville
- Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
- Terrence Brooks, Florida State
- Deone Bucannon, Washington State
Note: Position rankings are not based solely on ability. Skill sets, availability and when the team is expected to target the position also factor in. For example, the Lions won't be selecting a quarterback in the first round, so none of the top players at the position are listed on the big board.
Quarterback (Position need: Low to moderate)
Running Back (Very low)
Receiver (Moderate to high)
Tight End (Low to moderate)
Offensive Line (Low to moderate)
Defensive Line (Moderate)
Linebacker (Moderate to high)
Safety (Moderate to high)
First Round, 10th Overall
Team needs: CB, OLB, S, WR
The Lions are in a somewhat difficult spot at No. 10 overall. More than likely, the five "can't miss" prospects—Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson and Sammy Watkins—will be off the board by the time Detroit is on the clock.
While a trade up to get a player like Watkins, Mack or Clowney has been tossed around, it's also a move that would cost the Lions dearly in draft capital—likely this year and the next. Letting the board fall to them is probably the Lions' best course of action.
Detroit certainly isn't locked into one specific need. Linebacker, cornerback and safety need upgrades, but there's no reason for the Lions to reach at any of the three positions. If a player such as receiver Mike Evans, offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, defensive tackle Aaron Donald or tight end Eric Ebron is at the top of Martin Mayhew's remaining board, the Lions should send in that card and not think twice about it.
But if the board is stacked evenly, the three need positions can be prioritized.
Mack would be a dream pick at No. 10, but Anthony Barr is another edge-rusher who could instantly upgrade Detroit's outside linebacker spot. At cornerback, the long, rangy Kyle Fuller is a perfect fit for the receiver-heavy NFC North, while Justin Gilbert is one of the best athletes in the entire class and a dynamic returner. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix might be the only safety worth selecting at No. 10 overall.
The Lions are going to have options. It stands to reason that even without a trade up, Martin Mayhew will still be able to select an immediate difference-maker in the first round.
Second Round, 45th Overall
Team needs: CB, LB, S, WR
The Lions should have a number of attractive options with the 45th overall pick, especially at need positions.
Depending on how the board falls, Detroit may have the opportunity to draft a cornerback such as Bradley Roby or Jason Verrett or hybrid safety/cornerback Lamarcus Joyner. All three project as starters (in various roles) at the next level.
Safety is another real possibility, considering the depth at the position starts to get thin past the second round. Options during the second may include Jimmie Ward, Deone Buccannon and Terrence Brooks. The Lions have two veteran starters in Glover Quin and James Ihedigbo, but young depth at the position remains scarce.
An intriguing second-round option at linebacker is BYU's Kyle Van Noy, who fits perfectly as a 4-3 outside linebacker and who should be safe as a plug-and-play starter at the next level. A former college teammate of Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah, Van Noy can play in space and provide pressure as a rush linebacker.
However, don't rule out the chances of Detroit using the 45th pick on a receiver. This draft is loaded at the position, and the Lions could use a legitimate third option behind Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Among the most likely second-round receivers are Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Martavis Bryant and Davante Adams.
Third Round, 76th Overall
Team needs: DB, WR, OL, DL
The Lions have drafted a defensive back in the second or third round in four of the last five years. It's a strategy that hasn't exactly paid off with tangible results, but continued needs at the back end make it possible Detroit will spend another top-100 selection on the position group.
Potential selections at No. 76 overall include Pierre Desir, Marcus Roberson, Bashaud Breeland, Jaylen Watkins, Terrence Brooks and Ed Reynolds.
Receiver should remain on Detroit's radar in all three rounds. There are too many No. 2 and No. 3 quality receivers available in the top 100 picks for the Lions to not think long and hard about adding a player at the position early on. At No. 76 overall, Detroit could still snag a pass-catcher like Bruce Ellington, Jared Abbrederis or Jarvis Landry.
Either line would also be a play, especially if the Lions think they can find a potential long-term starter at guard or center or if a disruptive end or tackle were available.
Fourth Round; 111th, 133rd and 136th Overall
Team needs: DB, DE, OLB, OL
The Lions are the only team in the NFL with three picks in the fourth round. It's possible Detroit deals one in an early round to move up (only the 111th pick is eligible for trade), but staying put gives Martin Mayhew real ammunition to find answers in this round.
The most likely positions remain in the defensive backfield, where Detroit could be in position to snag a cornerback like Loucheiz Purifoy, Rashaad Reynolds or E.J. Gaines or a safety such as Brock Vereen, Dezmen Southward, Craig Loston, Kenny Ladler or Marqueston Huff.
A pass-rusher could be in the cards, especially if an edge talent such as Jackson Jeffcoat, James Gayle or Larry Webster falls into the fourth round.
Christian Kirksey, Jordan Zumwalt and Kevin Pierre-Louis have the ability to be potential starters at outside linebacker.
Three fourth-round picks in a draft many consider to be deep could end up being a great resource for Mayhew and the Lions.
Sixth Round, 189th Overall
Team needs: OL, DL, K, QB
It's a need no one wants to talk about, but the Lions have two kickers on the roster who have made a total of just three NFL field goals. Usually a team can find a veteran option in free agency, but Detroit might now have its hands tied—with the draft the best remaining option to find a good placekicker.
The sixth round is a palatable time for the drafting of a kicker. And the Lions are no strangers to taking specialists in this range; last April, Detroit took punter Sam Martin in the fifth round.
The best kickers in this draft are likely Anthony Fera of Texas and Chris Boswell of Rice.
Fera doesn't have a power leg, but he made over 90 percent of his kicks as a senior while also handling punting and kickoff duties. Boswell does have a big, NFL-ready leg—he made 13 collegiate kicks over 50 yards and three over 55—and he'll bring a consistent touchback potential on kickoffs.
Tiny-framed Cairo Santos of Tulane (5'8", 164 lbs) also has a big leg and professional-level accuracy.
If a kicker isn't the pick, the Lions might attempt to replace the departed Willie Young—a former seventh-round pick—with another edge-rusher they can develop. Denico Autry from Mississippi State makes sense.
Seventh Round, 227th Overall
Team needs: QB, DB, DE
The Lions drafted Matthew Stafford with the first overall pick in the 2009 draft. Since then, the franchise hasn't taken another quarterback in the draft, but that could change this year.
Behind Stafford is now Dan Orlovsky, a 30-year-old retread, and Kellen Moore, who may not have a ceiling higher than than a No. 3 quarterback at the NFL level. Former backup Shaun Hill signed in St. Louis this offseason.
The seventh round is an ideal time to find a developmental quarterback.
Some names to watch include David Fales, Keith Wenning, Brett Smith, Connor Shaw, Stephen Morris, Jeff Matthews and Casey Pachall. If Detroit wanted to get aggressive in an earlier round, a quarterback such as Logan Thomas or Aaron Murray could become an interesting option.
If the Lions can get their hands on a player they feel has a higher upside as a No. 2 than Moore, expect Martin Mayhew to pull the trigger.
Latest Draft Buzz
The latest draft buzz surrounding the Lions...
- How legitimate is the Lions' interest in moving up to get Sammy Watkins? If you believe Watkins, it's serious. He told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com Tuesday that the Lions have "made it clear" that the franchise is "very serious" about moving up in the draft to get the talented receiver. It'd be a bold move, but also a costly one. Are the Lions a receiver away? Probably not. In this draft, it might be better to let the board fall to No. 10.
- Are the Lions looking to trade Ndamukong Suh during the draft? Don't count on it. General manager Martin Mayhew shot down the notion this week, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The logistics of such a deal were always hard to get a feel for, given Suh's importance to the Lions and his massive cap hit. Expect Suh, Detroit's best defensive player, to be back with the Lions for 2014.
- Birkett also has information on a possible move up. The most likely candidates? Watkins, Khalil Mack and possibly even Mike Evans, per Birkett. Again, what will be the cost? Mack might be the best player for the Lions to go get, seeing as he'd provide a starting option at outside linebacker and Von Miller-like pass-rushing potential in a 4-3 defense.
- Cornerback is definitely a position the Lions could address early in the 2014 draft. Head coach Jim Caldwell was surprisingly blunt about Chris Houston, a former starter, saying he wasn't sure Houston could "regain his form," per Tim Twentyman of the team's official site. The Lions could become a dominant defense with better cornerback play. In a deep draft at the position, expect the Lions to address the position with a potential starting-caliber rookie.
Official Player Visits
The following players have made predraft visits with the Lions, per Justin Rogers of MLive.com:
- WR Davante Adams, Fresno State
- WR John Brown, Pittsburg State
- WR Martavis Bryant, Clemson
- WR Cody Latimer, Indiana
- WR Marqise Lee, USC
- WR Erik Lora, Eastern Illinois
- WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
- TE Eric Ebron, UNC
- TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
- TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
- RB Dri Archer, Kent State
- OL Taylor Lewan, Michigan
- C Marcus Martin, USC
- DE Larry Webster, Bloomsburg
- DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
- DE Denico Autry, Miss State
- S Deone Bucannon, Washington State
- S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
- DB Jerome Couplin, William and Mary
- CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
- CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
- CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska
- DB Dexter McDougle, Maryland
- CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State
- LB Khairi Fortt, Cal
- LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
- LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, BC
- LB Kyle Van Noy, BYU
- K Nate Freese, BC