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NFL Detroit Lions

2014 NFL Draft: 5 Late-Round Sleepers the Detroit Lions Should Target

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2014 NFL Draft: 5 Late-Round Sleepers the Detroit Lions Should Target

Deon Bucannon Washington State
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions are notorious for making flashy picks in the early rounds which haven't always payed off. They have a tendency to trade up in the draft and haven't found much talent in the later rounds recently.

The Lions have to figure out how to utilize every round of the draft in order to be successful. They can't continue to trade up and give up picks in later rounds. Defensive end Willie Young is the best selection the Lions have made after the fourth round in a long time, which isn't saying much.

The 2013 NFL Draft was the Lions' best in a long time, and they have to continue to find talent in each round like they did last year. They added punter Sam Martin in the fifth round and running back Theo Riddick in the sixth. Both players were able to contribute in their first season in the NFL and have bright futures.

With the depth of the draft this season, the Lions will get plenty of opportunities to improve their team after the first day. Their biggest areas of need are at cornerback, wide receiver and safety. They'll be looking to improve in those areas in the first and second rounds, but they may not get who they want and could have to consider other players later in the draft.

The 2014 NFL Draft will be the first opportunity for new head coach Jim Caldwell to have an impact on the team. Here are five players he and the Lions should consider if they don't get who they want in the first few rounds.

David Fouty is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @davefouty, "Like" him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State Cougars

Deone Bucannon Washington State Safety
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Deone Bucannon is a big, physical safety who plays well at the line of scrimmage. He's 6-foot-1 and tackles well. With the departure of Louis Delmas, the Lions need to add depth the position.

Bucannon might fall to the third round, and Lions would have to take him there if they get the chance.

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4. Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon Ducks

Terrance Mitchell CB Oregon Ducks
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Terrance Mitchell could be a good option at cornerback if the Lions aren't able to land one of the top options like Darqueze Dennard or Justin Gilbert. He wouldn't be a lock-down corner, but he could be a solid option in nickel defenses as the third CB on the field. He's quick and covers short routes well but doesn't have the speed cover the top receivers on the outside of the formation.

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3. Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming Cowboys

Brett Smith Wyoming Cowboys' QB
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Lions don't necessarily need to draft a quarterback, but it doesn't appear they have a lot of confidence in Kellen Moore. They've kept Shaun Hill on the roster as the veteran backup, but they should consider taking a stab at Brett Smith from Wyoming.

Smith is an under the radar option, but he could be a goldmine. The 6-foot-2 read-option quarterback is agile and throws with accuracy and finesse. He has good arm strength as well. With the success of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, the Lions should consider taking a chance on Smith if he falls to the sixth round.

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2. Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin Badgers

Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin Badgers WR
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Many people have the Lions taking Sammy Watkins with their first round pick, but this draft is deep with wide receivers. Jared Abbrederis is not one of the biggest options at the position, but he is as versatile as it gets. He showed the ability to be a deep threat at the University of Wisconsin but would be more of a slot threat in the NFL.

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1. Jeremiah George, LB, Iowa State Cyclones

Jeremiah George Iowa State LB
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Lions don't need to reach for a linebacker in this year's draft but should consider adding Jeremiah George if they take care of other needs earlier in the draft. The Iowa State Cyclones' linebacker was a team leader in multiple defensive categories and was a tackling machine. He's projected to go in the sixth or seventh round, and the Lions should jump all over it if he's still available.

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