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TWENTYMAN: 5 positions of need for Lions

Trusting the draft board and selecting the best available player is always the best strategy in the NFL Draft. Teams want to come out of the draft with multiple players who add overall talent to the roster, but if they also fill some needs, the team can take a big leap forward.

Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes has done a terrific job of that over the course of his first three NFL Drafts, filling this roster with young talent.

Tackle Penei Sewell (first round), defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson (first), running back Jahmyr Gibbs (first), tight end Sam LaPorta (second), defensive back Brian Branch (second), safety Kerby Joseph (third), defensive lineman Alim McNeill (third) and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (fourth) were all impact players as rookies and have become core players for the organization moving forward. Wide receiver Jameson Williams and linebacker Jack Campbell, two other first-round picks the last couple seasons, are also expected to have a big impact in their third and second seasons, respectively.

With seven picks total and three in the top 73 this year, Holmes will be on the lookout for more impact players in his fourth NFL Draft with the Lions.

This is the most complete roster Holmes has had entering the draft, but adding young talent and depth is still the goal.

Here's a look at where Detroit could still use some depth on the roster:


Detroit just might have the best defensive tackle duo in the NFL in DJ Reader and McNeill, but there's a lot of unproven depth behind the top two.

The team is hoping second-year player Brodric Martin takes a big leap in development after the third-round pick in last year's draft was mostly inactive as a rookie. Holmes said Martin was a developmental player, and the hope is he develops into a rotational player this season.

Levi Onwuzurike has a lot to prove in the final year of his rookie deal after showing last season he'd moved past the back injury that plagued him his first two seasons in the league. Chris Smith will also be looking to make the roster out of training camp.

Hutchinson, John Cominsky and Josh Paschal can all play inside, but they are more effective on the edge.


Much like we talked about at defensive tackle, the Lions have a nice starting duo with Joseph and Ifeatu Melifonwu, but there's unproven depth behind them.

The Lions were training Branch at safety last year but slowed that down as to not put too much on his plate. Now in his second season, the cross-training will probably increase, but he's the best nickel corner on the team and that's where he's expected to start and play. The Lions are hoping Brandon Joseph also takes a leap in development in his second season.

As it stands right now, the Lions have just three true safeties on the roster. Expect them to add to that room either in the draft or ahead of training camp with a veteran.


The Lions have one of the best starting five in the league with Sewell, Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Kevin Zeitler and Graham Glasgow, but depth is always key upfront, which was proven last season with Sewell and Glasgow the only members of that group who played in every game last season.

Outside of wide receiver, offensive line, both at tackle and along the interior, is probably the deepest and most talented position group in this draft class. The Lions value position versatility upfront and there's a number of players in this class with both tackle and guard experience that could offer position versatility.

If the Lions want their offensive line to continue to be the strength of this football team they need to continue to invest in young talent that pushes the veterans for playing time and adds terrific depth in the short term.

View photos from the Detroit Lions uniform reveal event at Ford Field on Thursday, April 18.


St. Brown and Williams enter 2024 as the No. 1 and No. 2. Kalif Raymond and Donovan People-Jones are proven vets, and the team expects second-year wide receiver Antoine Green to take a big leap in development, but there's definitely room to add another playmaker, especially one with some size.

Josh Reynolds was a proven player, and losing him in free agency (Denver) leaves a hole in the receiver room. This might be the best receiver class in the draft in the past decade with top-end talent and depth. Teams looking for receiver help will be able to find it in all three days of this draft.


Holmes did a nice job this offseason remaking a cornerback room that was the biggest weakness on the roster last year. Trading for Carlton Davis, signing Amik Robertson in free agency and re-signing Emmanuel Moseley were all good moves. Branch is already one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the league entering just his second season.

Kindle Vildor, Khalil Dorsey and Steven Gilmore add depth, but there's always room for more competition. This is a good group of cornerbacks in the draft and it's one of those positions like pass rusher where a team can never have enough good ones. Injury rates are high at cornerback and depth is always tested throughout the course of a season.

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