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2024 NFL Draft preview: 5 edge rushers that could interest Lions

When it comes to getting after the quarterback, the Detroit Lions have one of the best in the business in Pro Bowler Aidan Hutchinson, who had 11.5 sacks, led the league in quarterback hits (23) and was second behind Micah Parsons (69) with 67 quarterback hurries last season.

The Lions got some help for Hutchinson in free agency in signing veteran Marcus Davenport, who head coach Dan Campbell thinks will be a terrific complement on the other side.

"Really what you're getting is you're getting an athletic, explosive player with length," Campbell said of Davenport at the Annual League Meetings last week. "He plays hard and I think a lot of it is, 'Who is this guy opposite of Hutch that can really crush the pocket and close it down? And whether he makes it or sends it to Hutch was really a lot of what this is."

A healthy James Houston returning for Year 3 after missing almost all of last season with a broken leg will be good for Detroit's edge rush as well.

But coaches and general managers say it all the time that teams can never have too many pass rushers and that's the case in Detroit too. Detroit was among the league leaders in quarterback hurries last season, but their 41 sacks ranked 23rd. Sacks are drive-wrecking plays and the Lions need more of them. Detroit forced 32 three and out drives last season, the third fewest in the NFL.

This draft is highlighted by quarterbacks and receivers, and teams looking to add more impact players on defense are going to benefit from good defensive players being pushed back in the draft. The Lions certainly hope that's the case and they have options when they are on the clock, which is currently at pick No. 29.

View photos of the top edge rusher prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Edge class draft strength: Depth. When the Lions drafted Hutchinson No. 2 overall a couple years back edge rushers went No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5. There are some arguments among draft analysts as to who the top edge rusher is in this draft but there's a chance they don't go in the top 10 because of the quarterback and wide receiver class.

NFL media analyst Daniel Jeremiah lists seven edge rushers among his Top 50 players in this draft class.

Lions edge depth chart: Hutchinson, Davenport, Houston, Josh Paschal, John Cominsky, Mathieu Betts.

Lions edge draft priority: Moderate. The Lions have a pretty diverse edge room after the addition of Davenport. It's filled with length, power, speed and versatility. Still, adding another dynamic edge player to put in that rotation could really push up the sack production and Detroit's ability to consistently affect the quarterback in the pass game and set an edge in the run to another level.

Five edge rushers who could fit the Lions:

1. Dallas Turner, Alabama

6-3, 247. 4.46 40-yard dash (1.54 10-yard split).

The SEC Defensive Player of the Year is long and athletic with explosive traits. His 40 time at the Combine showed off his speed but a 40.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-7 broad jump showed his explosiveness. He had 14.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks this past season. He might be the first defensive player off the board, so to secure his services Holmes will have to move up from No. 29.

2. Jared Verse, Florida State

6-4, 254. 4.5 40-yard dash (1.6 10-yard split).

Verse has the size, length and power to be a pretty diverse pass rusher upfront. He recorded 41 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks, three passes defended, a blocked kick and a forced fumble last season for the Seminoles. He combines a great burst with strong hands and a nice toolbox of pass rush moves. When it's all said and done, don't be surprised if he leads all rookies in sacks in 2024.

3. Laiatu Latu, UCLA

6-5, 259. 4.64 40-yard dash (1.62 10-yard split).

A neck injury nearly ended his career, but Latu passed the medicals at the Combine. He said teams didn't have any concerns after going through the medicals. He won the Lombardi Award (nation's top college OL/DL) and Ted Hendricks Award (nation's top DE) this past season after leading the FBS with 21.5 tackles for loss and was fourth with 13.0 sacks. Latu consistently plays football on the other side of the line of scrimmage. That's really the best way to describe his ability. He might be the most skilled rusher in the class and is ultra-disruptive.

View photos of NFL prospect Chop Robinson.

4. Chop Robinson, Penn State

6-3, 254. 4.48 40-yard dash (1.54 10-yard split).

Why didn't his super athletic traits translate to more production at Penn State? That's the question NFL talent evaluators are asking themselves when it comes to evaluating Robinson. He had 9.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss the last two seasons combined. Robinson is a twitchy and explosive rusher who has a high ceiling once he increases his toolbox of rush moves and gets to a team that has a plan for him.

5. Darius Robinson, Missouri

6-5, 285. 4.95 40-yard dash (1.73 10-yard split).

A physically imposing rusher with good athletic traits, Robinson began his career as a defensive tackle and moved outside last year with terrific results – 14 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. Teams are going to love the kind of flexibility Robinson will provide with his ability to rush, play the run and also shift inside. He has the kind of length, measurables, versatility and high ceiling teams like in young pass rushers.

Sleeper: Mohamed Kamara, Colorado State

6-1, 248. 4.57 40-yard dash (1.58 10-yard split).

Production. Production. Production. Kamara recorded 33.0 tackles for loss and 21.5 sacks the last two seasons combined at Colorado State. He's more power than finesse with an unrelenting motor. His measurables won't wow teams but give me a guy who has consistently proven he can be disruptive on the edge. Production matters.

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