INDIANAPOLIS – There is only one team in the NFL Draft who controls their own fate, and that’s the Arizona Cardinals with the No. 1 overall pick. The other 31 teams have to wait to see what happens in front of them before deciding what they can do.
For the Detroit Lions, who are selecting No. 8 overall, seven potential targets will come off the board before they pick, unless they move up.
In that regard, this Combine really couldn’t have gone any better for the Lions.
Let me explain.
First, the height measurement heard round the world came in for Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Kyler Murray Wednesday, and it was good -- good for him and good for the Lions. Murray measured in over 5-foot-10, which some teams feared he might not, and that would have potentially hurt his draft stock. His measurables ended up being very comparable to that of Russell Wilson’s, which could put Murray in the conversation to be the No. 1 quarterback selected in the draft, and maybe even the No. 1 selection overall.
View photos of the prospects that met the media on Day 3 of the 2019 NFL Combine.
While Lions general manager Bob Quinn said he hasn’t ruled out any position at No. 8, quarterback seems unlikely with Matthew Stafford under contract for another four seasons and both Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia throwing their support behind him this offseason.
Figuring Murray has put himself in the top of the draft, that should be one of the seven spots in front of the Lions taken by a position that’s not a huge need for them at No. 8.
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins is another big name to watch. The Buccaneers, Giants, and Jaguars could all be landing spots for Haskins ahead of the Lions’ pick at No. 8. Maybe a quarterback needy team currently sitting behind the Lions moves up ahead of Detroit to take him. That would be another one of the seven spots in front of the Lions potentially earmarked for a quarterback. Could a third quarterback jump up there? Maybe. But for this article let's just assume it’s Murray and Haskins for now.
The biggest buzz outside of Murray’s height measurement at the Combine was the performance of Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf. He measured in at 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds, and ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash. Some are comparing his Combine to that of Calvin Johnson’s back in 2007. Johnson ended up going No. 2 overall that year to Detroit. Could Metcalf’s performance this week elevate him into the top seven picks in the draft? It’s certainly possible.
While the Lions do need to add another receiver to go with Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr., doing so at No. 8 always kind of seemed like a bit of a stretch to me. They have two big-bodied receivers right now, and might be in the market for more of a speedy and shifty slot receiver a little later on in the draft. If Metcalf moves into the top seven, again, it adds to the pool of players ahead of the Lions and drops everyone else closer to the eighth spot.
The next thing to consider are the offensive linemen, and the premium teams put on the left tackle spot. The Buccaneers at No. 5 and the Jaguars at No. 7 could possibly be in the market to upgrade their offensive line, and a number of those top tackles had themselves a nice Combine, especially Florida’s Jawaan Taylor.
Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa and Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams are the two premier players at their respective positions, so there really doesn’t seem to be a logical scenario where they fall below No. 5.
So let’s recap real quick.
If Murray, Haskins, Metcalf, Bosa, Williams and an offensive tackle like Taylor or Alabama’s Jonah Williams go in the top seven, that’s a terrific scenario for the Lions at No. 8. That leaves edge rusher Josh Allen, defensive lineman Rashan Gary, defensive ends Montez Sweat and Clelin Ferrell, linebacker Devin White, tight end T.J. Hockenson and cornerback Greedy Williams as potential targets.
That’s a terrific scenario for the Lions.
There’s a lot that can happen in the next two months, and players will shift up and down draft boards based on pro days and individual workouts, but just looking at this past week at the Combine, it was a good one for the Lions sitting at No. 8.