Detroit Lions Day 2 2014 NFL Draft Primer
Long-term successful franchises know that their bread is buttered with second- and third-round picks. First-rounders might put butts in seats, but the second day is a great place to find players with the type of talent that was worthy of a first-night selection but slid for whatever reason.
So don't take this article lightly. You need this knowledge and speculation to be a fan worthy of a championship-worthy team.
Who am I kidding? You love this stuff. Click through for a Day 1 recap, Day 1's impact on the rest of the draft and who the experts are thinking Detroit might take on Day 2.
Day 1 Recap and Analysis
The Lions kicked off their draft with a bit of surprise. While tight end Eric Ebron was the flavor of the month among mockers a few weeks ago, I had trouble finding anyone other than Will Lomas of Draft Season who nailed this pick.
The surprise should quickly turn to delight among fans, though, as this move was universally praised. In fact, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller (see the above video), Michael Schottey and myself all graded it at some variation of an A.
Ebron is a physical freak who will constantly create mismatches with his 6'4", 250-pound frame and 4.6 speed. We all liked to float the idea that Joseph Fauria could hold down the Jimmy Graham role in offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's offense, but Ebron is a perfect fit.
The pick also fits general manager Martin Mayhew's best-player-available approach and filled a need that not many realized was there. He isn't the explosive receiver everyone was hoping for, but he might actually be even better.
Updated Needs for Detroit Lions
The addition of Golden Tate and now Ebron might seem to obviate the need for another wide receiver. However, it doesn't keep Kris Durham or Kevin Ogletree from possibly being the No. 3 receiver. It'd be nice if Ryan Broyles could add to the team's increasing wealth of firepower, but that ship might have sailed.
As I said yesterday, the Lions aren't finished with this position.
Not too many of us would have been upset if the Lions had sprung a move up the board to grab Khalil Mack. There are also plenty of reasons to believe the Lions would have taken Anthony Barr had he been there instead of Ebron. Detroit still needs to find someone who can create pressure from the linebacking position because Ashlee Palmer is not that man.
In my mind, the Lions dodged a bullet when the Cleveland Browns moved up to take Justin Gilbert. They have some young guys on the roster, and if Chris Houston can recover in time for training camp, the secondary might not be as shaky as previously surmised. However, Detroit should still look to add some developmental depth later in the draft since they're dealing with a lot of unknown quantities.
It's the same story at center as it's been for the past couple of years. Dominic Raiola cannot defy Father Time for much longer. The Lions are almost a lock to find a center on Day 2. Well, as much of a lock as there can be in the always unpredictable draft.
This need could probably be combined with the linebacker discussion above, but I'm thinking of something more traditional here. Detroit's pass rush had plenty of hype but little production last year with the fifth-least sacks in 2013. If the Lions could find someone defensive line coach Kris Kocurek could coach up over the course of a year or two, it would help them transition from Jason Jones and give them depth behind Ezekiel Ansah and maybe Devin Taylor.
Top Day 2 Targets
I know Deone Bucannon was taken by the Arizona Cardinals at the back of the first round. My picture is a memorial to the guy I had hoped Detroit could steal in the second round.
But all is not lost. Let's take a look at some of the top targets for the Lions in Day 2.
1. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy
Kyle Van Noy isn't a new name to Lions draft pundits or fans. The BYU linebacker played with Ziggy Ansah in college and the dream of those two reuniting in Detroit is alive and well. Van Noy is exactly the type of player who could play the blitz-from-anywhere role that defensive coordinator Teryl Austin desperately covets.
2. Wide Receiver Marqise Lee
I'm starting to sound like a broken record here. Do we all understand that the Lions could still use a wide receiver? Just a year ago, or even a few months ago, Lee was considered a possible top-10 talent. He suffered through some injuries during his last year in college that seem to have depreciated his stock a little too far.
3. Wide Receiver Cody Latimer
Cody Latimer blazed his way into everyone's consciousness with an amazing pro day and a 4.44 40-yard dash. He posted solid numbers during his time at Indiana, topping out at 72 catches and 1,096 yards during his junior year.
4. Defensive End Stephon Tuitt
Stephon Tuitt busted onto the scene during Notre Dame's 2012 redemption run with an astounding 12 sacks. He fell back to earth with 7.5 sacks last season, but his 6'5", 305-pound frame, along with his quick hands, will make him a valuable commodity that can be moved around the defensive line.
5. Guard Joel Bitonio
Joel Bitonio played tackle in college, but his stature almost assures he will be a guard at the next level. He has the look and experience of a plug-and-play player. However, he would get a chance to learn multiple positions in a reserve role while waiting to eventually take over for the declining Rob Sims.
What Are the Experts Saying?
I had to dig a little deeper than usual for expert mocks since so many people were focused on the first round. Not to mention that more than a few mocks (including my own) had Detroit grabbing a player in the second round who has already been drafted.
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: WR Marqise Lee. Lee made my big board for Day 2 because he has the talent to be a playmaker at the next level. Considering he would only have to contribute as a fourth option, he's intriguing to say the least.
Rob Rang, CBS: WR Davante Adams. Adams was extremely productive in college, notching 131 catches last year alone. However, he didn't line up against superior competition week in and week out in the Mountain West Conference. The second round seems a bit high for him.
Bucky Brooks, NFL.com: S Deone Bucannon. I'm not bitter about missing out on him at all.
Drafttek.com: LB Kyle Van Noy. It's getting harder and harder to mock anyone but Van Noy to the Lions at this point. Will I take the bait? We still have a couple of slides to figure that one out.
Will Lomas, Draft Season: WR Davante Adams. See above. He has nice size at 6'1" and 212 pounds. Adams doesn't have the speed but is smart about using his body to beat defenders to the ball.
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: FS Brock Vereen. Vereen is an interesting prospect who would certainly fill a need of the future. It doesn't hurt that he wouldn't have to start right away and could learn for a year while contributing on special teams.
Bucky Brooks, NFL.com: DT Ego Ferguson. Ferguson is pretty much the opposite of what the Lions already have. He uses his 315 pounds to plug up the running game and keep offensive linemen from getting to the linebackers. He doesn't project as much of a pass-rusher though.
Drafttek.com: LB Christian Jones. Jones is an exciting player who could wreak havoc en route to the quarterback. He has the speed to cover the entire field, but he might not have enough football IQ to immediately help in any significant way.
Will Lomas, Draft Season: DT Will Sutton. Sutton is well-known in the desert for his ability to ruin backfields. He was considered a team leader and finished with back-to-back Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Mel Kiper, ESPN: CB Walt Aikens. Cornerbacks are always fashionable when it comes to the Lions, but I don't agree with the value here.
3 Predictions for Day 2
I'm saving the mock draft where we keep things traditional and make the picks that the Lions have for the last slide. Here we're going to have some fun projecting possible trades and exciting players the Lions could target.
Could the Lions Make a Move for Expert Favorite Jeremiah Attaochu?
Detroit doesn't have a "top-10" pick in the second round because they finished with the same record as a couple of other teams. While they could afford to let the draft fall to them in the first, they might have to make a move to grab the apple of their eye in the second round.
One such player who might entice Detroit to part with their second and possibly a third or fourth is Jeremiah Attaochu. I didn't mention him on my big board because I don't think there's any way he's there at No. 45, although Todd McShay does (subscription required). However, if Mayhew can give up just a fourth-rounder to move up far enough to get him, he should consider it.
Attaochu is a prime example of an under-the-radar guy who could be exactly what they need. He's a linebacker who could play all three downs by virtue of his athleticism.
Might Detroit Get to Hold Another Team Hostage for Derek Carr?
At this point, most of the quarterbacks who had been discussed in the first round have come off the board. But not all of them.
Derek Carr was projected by some as a top-10 pick. It's much more likely that a team interested in a quarterback will have to move into the top half of the second round to get him, but stranger things have happened.
Keep your eye on Carr. He could help Detroit extract a couple of picks out of a franchise that isn't sold on its quarterback and gets a little too antsy to wait for its own selection (i.e. the Cincinnati Bengals).
The Lions Won't Pick a Cornerback
No question marks here. I'm making the bold statement because I don't believe this front office believes it needs another cornerback from the first half of the draft.
Yes, there are concerns and I have listed it as a position of need. However, with four taken in the first round, the value just isn't going to be there.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste is probably the only player who moves the needle for anybody at this point, but he's a reach in the second round. Don't fall in love with his 6'3" frame and proclaim that the Lions must have him. Let someone else pay that high value for a player who isn't worth it and focus on scooping up the ignored gem who was left behind.
Updated Detroit Lions Mock Draft
For the last time, I'll lament Detroit's inability to land Deone Bucannon. Besides my sorrow, the fallout also shakes up my mock draft, but things could still turn out pretty well for the Lions.
Round 2, Pick 45: LB Kyle Van Noy
I'm not very good at poker. Once I mentioned Van Noy earlier, it should have been obvious where I was headed. He fills a huge need and possesses the type of character that BYU demands of its students in compliance with their honor code. It doesn't hurt that he's a great athlete who can team up with Ziggy to ruin opposing offensive coordinators' plans.
Round 3, Pick 76: WR Kevin Norwood
I'm not changing my mind on the Norwood prediction. He's a great value in the third round because of his reliability and sneaky playmaking ability. Mayhew should push Ogletree and Durham down the depth chart where they belong with this pick and solidify the receiving corps.
Round 4, Pick 111: C Marcus Martin
Now, I'm starting to look stubborn, but when my original mock picks looked so good when I made them, why would I change? Martin's huge size is the biggest factor here, because if he doesn't work out at center, they can move him over to guard.
Round 4, Pick 133: S Ed Reynolds
There just aren't any safety prospects who would make enough sense in the second or third round for me to make a move earlier. Reynolds is a disruptive player who can help fortify the back end when James Ihedigbo moves on.
Round 4, Pick 136: DE James Gayle
If the Lions do grab Attaochu, I'll rethink my position on Gayle. His ability to bring down the occasional quarterback is exactly what you're looking for in a bottom-of-the-rotation defensive end.
Round 6, Pick 189: CB Shaquille Richardson
See? I do believe that there is a place for a cornerback in this draft. It's just much later than everyone else thought. As I've mentioned a few hundred times over the past few months, Richardson and his 6'1" size would be a great depth addition to Detroit's beleaguered secondary.
Round 7, Pick 227: K Chris Boswell
Boswell is the best kicking prospect in this draft from a leg-strength perspective. While his accuracy has waned the past two years, maybe the dome in Detroit is exactly what he needs. If he can extend Detroit's scoring range by another 10 yards, he'll be well worth a seventh-round flier.
Combine results courtesy of NFL.com's draft tracker.