The Lions’ top needs have changed due to their notable free-agent signings. With the acquisition of CJ Gardner-Johnson, Emmanuel Moseley, and Cameron Sutton, their secondary has changed from being a severe weakness to a strength. In addition to these signings, they have also added John Cominsky and Isaiah Buggs to their defensive line, further strengthening it. With the draft quickly approaching and the Lions having two first-round choices, many are curious about Brad Holmes’ plans for the team. What will the Lions’ draft strategy be now that defensive back is less of a need?
Currently, the biggest need is defensive tackle. Although this defense has the potential to develop into a strength, defensive tackle remains one of the few weaknesses. The Lions require additional players in this position as Alim McNeil is performing well, but Levi Onwuzurike is often injured. This draft features some excellent DTs, including Bryan Bresee, Jalen Carter, and Calijah Kancey. Many believe that the Lions’ first selection, which falls at number 6, will be a defensive lineman. Although Jalen Carter appears to have generational talent and huge playmaking abilities, the Lions have very particular character traits they seek in their players, so he may not make the cut. Calijah Kancey is another good talent that the Lions might choose with their first pick. Kancey had a fantastic season at Pitt and appears to have the ability to be a playmaker, drawing parallels to guys like Aaron Donald. Although the Lions’ requirements have decreased, this pressing need should undoubtedly be met with one of their first-round selections.
Linebackers are another requirement. The Lions didn’t sign a seasoned linebacker to pair with Rodriguez and Anzalone, as was expected. They gave Anzalone a sizable three-year contract and will most likely want to choose a linebacker in the draft. The Lions will look in the second round to locate their linebacker as none are anticipated to go in the first. Two men that spring to mind are Trenton Simpson and Jack Campbell. The qualities of a “Dan Campbell man” may be found in Campbell, a very effective covering linebacker, but he isn’t a great pass rusher. He is undoubtedly a player the Lions should take into consideration and can undoubtedly assist this linebacking core perform well. Simpson is an excellent tackler in the open field, but on run plays, he has a propensity to become overly aggressive and pursue. Any linebacker would be a fantastic acquisition for Detroit and capable of having an instant influence on the franchise the following season.
Finally, a tight end is desired. Although Zylstra and Wright served the Lions well, they still need a tight end who is capable of starting. The Lions may consider selecting a tight end as early as pick 18 given the high caliber of tight ends entering this draft. Many excellent tight ends are available in the second round if the Lions decide not to choose one in the first round. In the second round, Darnell Washington would be a good option. His draft standing has increased dramatically due to a strong season as Georgia’s TE2 and an outstanding combine. He is an excellent blocker in addition to being a very good playmaker. According to a Georgia coach, he was like having an extra offensive lineman on the field. Although a better tight end would be beneficial, the Lions will still be alright with Wright and Zylstra if they decide not to pick a tight end this year.
The Lions have had a successful free agency, but the upcoming draft is even more intriguing. It will be exciting to see which positions they focus on and if Brad Holmes can replicate the growth he achieved last year. If they have a successful draft, this team will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. Brad Holmes deserves credit for his excellent work, and the fan base has plenty to look forward to.