Road to the Draft

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TWENTYMAN: Lions' top 5 positions of need heading into draft

The Detroit Lions addressed a number of needs in free agency with veteran players, which has allowed them to approach the draft as they always have under general manager Bob Quinn, by blending best available player with the needs of the roster.

With the draft just two weeks away, let’s take a look across the current Lions roster and evaluate where there are still some needs to fill.

1. Guard

Currently on roster: Frank Ragnow, Kenny Wiggins, Oday Aboushi, Joe Dahl, Graham Glasgow (C/G)

Twentyman’s take: The Lions have options at guard, especially if they move second-year tackle Tyrell Crosby inside to see if he’s a viable option to fill their opening at the starting right guard spot. Wiggins and Aboushi are veterans with starting experience, but both are free agents after 2019.

It makes sense to add a young interior lineman to the mix -- Maybe hit on a youngster, find someone to pair with Ragnow, and have both guard spots locked down for the next four or five seasons.

Top 5 available guards in draft: Cody Ford (Oklahoma), Chris Lindstrom (Boston College), Dalton Risner (Kansas State), Dru Samia (Oklahoma) and Michael Jordan (Ohio State)

View photos of NFL prospect Chris Lindstrom.

2. Tight end

Currently on roster: Jesse James, Logan Thomas, Michael Roberts, Jerome Cunningham

Twentyman’s take: James was a big free agent signing. The Lions think the ceiling is high for his skill set, and he should have more opportunities in the passing game in Detroit than he did in Pittsburgh. But after James, there’s not a lot of production on the roster. Thomas, Roberts and Cunningham have combined for 40 catches, 349 yards and four touchdowns between them throughout their careers. This draft class is loaded at tight end, and there will be players well into Day 2 that should be impact players in this league.

Top 5 available tight ends in draft: T.J. Hockenson (Iowa), Noah Fant (Iowa), Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama), Jace Sternberger (Texas A&M), Kaden Smith (Stanford)

3. Defensive end

Currently on roster: Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara, Da’Shawn Hand (DL), Mitchell Loewen, Eric Lee, Jonathan Wynn

Twentyman’s take: Flowers was an ideal signing for Detroit in free agency. He knows Matt Patricia’s schemes, and has a perfect skill set for this multiple defense. Okwara also proved to be a fit in this defense with a career-high 7.5 sacks in his first season in Detroit last year. The question with him is if he can consistently put up those numbers. That’s a fair question to ask after he had one sack combined his first two seasons with the New York Giants. Hand played more inside than outside last year, but has the ability to do both. Still, it seems the Lions could use one more player to add to this mix. The good thing for them is that this draft is loaded with pass rushers, especially at the top. And they could potentially get a good one at No. 8.

Top 5 available defensive ends in draft: Nick Bosa (Ohio State), Josh Allen (Kentucky), Montez Sweat (Mississippi State), Rashan Gary (Michigan), Brian Burns (Florida State)

View photos of NFL prospect Montez Sweat.

4. Wide receiver

Currently on the roster: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, Tommylee Lewis, Brandon Powell, Andy Jones, Chris Lacy, Deontez Alexander, Brandon Reilly

Twentyman’s take: The real question for me at receiver is whether Powell, Jones or Lacy is the real deal in terms of competing for the fifth receiver spot. The other two things to consider here are where Amendola is at in his career and Lewis' experience. Amendola is 33 years old, and probably isn’t a long-term solution in the slot. Lewis hasn’t caught more than 10 passes in any of his first three seasons. He’s also a free agent next offseason. Powell showed real promise in Green Bay Week 17 last season, catching six balls for 103 yards, but that was just one game. There are a number of good receiving options in this draft, especially in the slot, and that’s a position where it’s always good to have options.

Top 5 available wide receivers in draft: D.K. Metcalf (Ole Miss), Marquise Brown (Oklahoma), A.J. Brown (Ole Miss), N’Keal Harry (Arizona State), Deebo Samuel (South Carolina)

5. Cornerback

Currently on the roster: Darius Slay, Justin Coleman, Rashaan Melvin, Teez Tabor, Jamal Agnew, Marcus Cooper, Dee Virgin, Mike Ford, Andre Chachere

Twentyman’s take: Of the players on that list, I pencil in Slay and Coleman (slot) as starters. Melvin looks to have the inside track for the No. 2 outside cornerback spot, but Tabor, Cooper, Virgin and Ford will compete for it. I’d expect there to be a rookie draft pick in that mix as well. In this day and age, teams can never have too many good players who can cover. Melvin’s been an on-again off-again starter throughout seven NFL seasons. Tabor, a former second-round pick, hasn’t worked out the way Quinn had hoped, though he said this offseason the team is still hoping he takes a big leap in year three. There isn’t a clear-cut top 10 cornerback in this class like there’s been the last couple seasons with Denzel Ward and Marshon Lattimore, but there’s good depth to the class, and the Lions could look to tap into it at some point.

Top 5 available cornerbacks in draft: Byron Murphy (Washington), Greedy Williams (LSU), Rock Ya-Sin (Temple), DeAndre Baker (Georgia), Justin Layne (Michigan State)

View photos of NFL prospect Greedy Williams.

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