Detroit Lions Draft Picks: Results, Analysis and Grades
The Detroit Lions didn't make the 2014 NFL draft trade you were hoping for, but that doesn't mean they weren't active. And active drafters require quick grades because you need football analysis. Now.
Luckily, there's no need to worry. We've got you covered.
Now that you've enjoyed the draft, it's time to start dissecting it from every angle, beginning with grades and analysis.
Brandon Alisoglu is a Detroit Lions featured columnist who has written about the Lions on multiple sites. He also co-hosts a Lions-centric podcast,Lions Central Radio. Yell at him on Twitter about how wrong he is@BrandonAlisoglu.
All combine statistics are courtesy of NFL.com.
Round 1, Pick 10: Tight End Eric Ebron
After missing out on wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, the Lions didn't waste any time on the clock making their pick. If nothing else, they were sure of who they wanted—tight end Eric Ebron.
Judging from the texts I'm receiving, fans are going to require some persuasion that this was the right pick. With multi-tool tight end Brandon Pettigrew re-signed and last year's darling Joseph Fauria looking for a bigger role, this certainly wasn't a need.
However, fans need to realize that moving up for one of the so-called studs of this draft would have been expensive. Just to get Watkins, the Buffalo Bills gave up two first-rounders and a fourth. That's a steep price.
Plus, general manager Martin Mayhew has never cared about what the fans think, and this time he was absolutely right. Ebron can do the same things that Jimmy Graham does for New Orleans, a.k.a. the last team that employed new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.
Ebron is a physical freak who will be moved all over the field to create mismatches. Fans might not have gotten the receiver they wanted, but they might find that they got the one they needed.
Round 2, Pick 40: Trade Up for Linebacker Kyle Van Noy
The trade everyone expected the Lions to make came a day late but was anything but a dollar short.
By giving up picks No. 45, 111 and 227, Detroit was able to move up five spots and reunite Ziggy Ansah with his old college roommate—linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
Van Noy represents an immediate upgrade over incumbent starter Ashlee Palmer thanks to his ability to rush the passer as well as drop into coverage.
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin believes in creating pressure from a multitude of angles. Van Noy is perfect for that. His 4.71 speed will help him finish what his impressive array of pass-rushing moves will start.
Everyone knew Detroit needed an outside backer to round out the front seven. The secondary might still be a liability, but opposing quarterbacks will have just a split-second shorter to find those holes.
Don't look now, but Mayhew is building the foundation of another solid draft class.
Round 3, Pick 76: Center Travis Swanson
The Lions stayed put in the third round and ended up with a huge need pick.
Center Travis Swanson is a big man at 6'5" and 315 pounds. He isn't the best athlete, but he's a center, it isn't really necessary.
There are concerns about his ability to pass protect. There are concerns his "pear shape," per Alex Dunlap of Bleacher Report.
But in that same above linked scouting report, Matt Miller called him the best center in the draft. That was a popular notion until he had a poor showing at the Senior Bowl.
However, Swanson was one of the top offensive linemen in the SEC and will get a year at least to figure things out. Solid pick, but nothing to write home about.
Round 4, Pick 133: Cornerback Nevin Lawson
As expected, the Lions didn't make any bold moves as trade targets in the fourth round were probably not worth giving up a 2015 pick (compensatory picks cannot be traded).
Instead, Detroit patiently waited as cornerbacks disappeared from the board and grabbed Nevin Lawson from Utah State when it was their turn on the clock.
Lawson is a somewhat confusing pick because his 5'9" frame doesn't seem to conform to defensive coordinator Teryl Austin's desired style of cornerback. However, he has the speed (4.48 at the combine) and length (31.5" arms) to make up for it.
The value was about commensurate to where he was projected to go. All in all, a solid choice that could develop into a nickel or dime cornerback.
Round 4, Pick 136: Defensive End Larry Webster
There are two sides to the Larry Webster selection.
First, the Lions have addressed another need, adding some depth at defensive end and giving Austin another athletic pass-rusher.
The flip side, unfortunately, is that he is a raw prospect that is going to need time to develop.
Defensive line coaches Kris Kocurek and Jim Washburn has been quite successful thus far taking limited guys like Willie Young or Sammie Hill and getting the most out of them. There is hope that he can harness Webster's incredible physical gifts.
I like the pick because of what Webster can become; I'm just not sold that he wouldn't have been there in the fifth or sixth round.
Round 5, Pick 158: Defensive Tackle Caraun Reid
The Lions have had trouble over the past five years with defense and arrests. One fifth-rounder isn't going to change all of that, but he is a step in a different direction.
Defensive tackle Caraun Reid comes to Detroit via Princeton, not exactly a school known for bad boys. It also isn't a school known for football.
Reid could be the man to change that. He projects as a defensive tackle in Detroit by virtue of his 6'2", 301-pound body. He was considered a sleeper before the draft and it's easy to see why.
The fifth-rounder is solid against the run, but his real value is as a pass-rusher. His bevy of moves resulted in 20.5 sacks in college and will help him provide an instant impact in 2014.
There is solid value here and plenty of potential. Considering the Lions picked up a seventh-round pick when they shipped the 146th selection to Dallas and dropped down to No. 158, Mayhew got back on track after a rough start to Day 3.
Round 6, Pick 189: Wide Receiver T.J. Jones
The Lions were seemingly linked to every possible wide receiver over the past few months. However, one of them I don't recall seeing anywhere was T.J. Jones.
Well, they're linked now as Detroit nabbed the wide receiver in the sixth round.
Jones doesn't seem to do anything at an elite level, but that doesn't mean he isn't a solid pick this late in the draft. It does mean, however, that his ceiling is probably that of a third or fourth receiver.
As it turns out, that's also exactly what Detroit needs. Jones will get a shot to start in the slot thanks to his reliable hands, ability to find the soft spots in a zone and his 4.48 speed.
Round 7, Pick 229: Kicker Nate Freese
With the last pick of their 2014 draft, the Lions took kicker Nate Freese from Boston College.
It's almost shocking how need-based this draft has been for Detroit. I can't remember a time when they addressed their deficiencies so efficiently.
As for the Freese pick, it was the right time to take a kicker. They didn't want to wait until the undrafted free-agency period to lose out on the guy they wanted.
Freese was the top kicker in the country from an accuracy standpoint. He converted on all 20 of his attempts, including six from over 40 yards, according to NFLDraftScout.com.
He might not have the leg that Chris Boswell did, but he did convert on 3 of his four attempts over 50 yards in his career, with a long of 52. His consistency is the key here.