5 NFL Draft Prospects Who Could Be Instant Starters For Detroit Lions

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5 NFL Draft Prospects Who Could Be Instant Starters For Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions have plenty of needs that have to be addressed this offseason in order to win their first division title in 20 years. What plagued this team for most of the season was turnovers and stupid penalties. The Lions have already addressed part of this problem with the hiring of Jim Caldwell. The other half of the equation needs to be addressed as the Lions need smarter players who can avoid making the stupid mistakes most associated with the Lions in recent memory

Detroit was a disappointing 13th with just 24 points per game in 2013, yet the offensive talent suggests a better ranking. On defense, the Lions ranked a solid 15th in points allowed with 23 per game.

In the 2014 offseason, Detroit already shuffled their coaching staff with new coordinators and a proven winning head coach trying to turn around an historically bad franchise. In free agency, the Lions have to remedy their salary cap by shedding the contracts of players like Louis Delmas and Nate Burleson to free up some cap space. Detroit will also have to make some tough decisions, especially trying to re-sign Joique Bell and deciding whether to keep Brandon Pettigrew or let him walk.

With these factors in consideration, the Lions' window of opportunity is closing faster than most want to think. Star players like Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh occupy more than 10 percent of the Lions' entire salary cap, and it's no coincidence that all three were top two picks in the pre-rookie cap days. Free agency is the quickest option to win now for the Lions, but given the lackluster draft classes the past three seasons, the Lions have to hit big in the draft.

Here are five players who can step in and be instant starters for Detroit in 2014.

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5. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia

Morgan Moses
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit offensive line is a solid unit, but it's still lacking in a solid right tackle. The Lions went through three last year and all failed to be difference makers.

In Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses, the Lions could use an early second-round pick to get one of the more underrated prospects in this year's draft. He will stop the three-ring circus at right tackle that was Corey Hilliard, Jason Fox and LaAdrian Waddle.

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4. Dee Ford, DE, Auburn

Dee Ford
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Should the Lions trade down from No. 10 and land in the latter half of the first-round, it would not surprise me one bit if the team spends yet another first-round pick on a defensive lineman. After all, the Lions have already had a stretch where they drafted three wide receivers in the first round in three straight years.

In Auburn defensive end Dee Ford, the Lions would have an excellent defensive front that can turn the defense into a top-5 unit. Ford would immediately start over incumbent Willie Young.

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3. Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU

Kyle Van Noy
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Lions have two of their three linebackers in place with DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch. Now they need to find that final piece.

An underrated prospect is BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Should he be taken in the second or possibly late first-round for the Lions, Van Noy would be that final piece and would contribute immediately as a starter.

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2. Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Marqise Lee
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson has been the best wide receiver in the NFL in the past three years, but beyond that, the Lions don't have another legitimate receiving threat.

With USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, the Lions will think they are getting the next Mike Williams. But this former USC receiver actually has some maturity coming out of college, and him playing in a pro-style offense will help Lee's learning curve.

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1. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.

Justin Gilbert
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback has been the weakest position for the Lions for a long time. The Lions consistently have passed on talented cornerbacks in the draft and have suffered because of this.

In 2014, most mock drafts have either Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard or Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert going to the Lions. I like Gilbert a little more than Dennard, and he would be an immediate starter for a unit that has used Chris Houston as their shutdown corner -- and the results have been bad to say the least.

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  • twelsh36446

    Waddle did a good job and was solid last year. We don’t need no stinking right tackle. We do however need a CB, and Gilbert would be the best on the board IMO.