By Kyle Johansen @kylejohansen on April 8, 2014
The third day of the NFL Draft last year was a resounding success for Detroit as multiple players contributed to the Lions in 2013. Fourth-round pick Devin Taylor had two forced fumbles and 2.5 sacks with 1.5 coming on Thanksgiving Day, while fifth rounder Sam Martin started all year at punter. This year’s draft features a deep class of cornerbacks, and the Lions will look for value to provide much-needed depth to their secondary.
Phillip Gaines is rising up draft boards after an impressive performance at the combine in both the field drills and the 40-yard dash, which was timed at 4.38 seconds. Gaines may still be available at the top of the fourth round, and if so the Lions would likely jump all over him. At 6-foot, 193-pounds Gaines possesses a nice blend of size and speed for a cornerback. He finished 2013 with four interceptions and nine passes defended.
Lamarcus Joyner is just 5-foot-8, 184-pounds, but he plays bigger than his size. Joyner flies to the ball with excellent acceleration, perfectly timing pass breakups. He lined up at both cornerback and safety for Florida State and shows strong awareness and instincts. Joyner can be a valuable member on special teams both returning and covering kicks. While he lacks ideal size, Joyner has the instincts and big play ability to start in the NFL.
E.J. Gaines is 5-foot-10, 190-pounds but features broad shoulders and long arms. In 2013, Gaines totaled 68 tackles with five interceptions and three pass breakups. Towards the end of Missouri’s season, Gaines shut down standout wide receiver Mike Evans, holding him to just four catches for eight yards. Gaines has been productive against SEC competition and has the coverage and ball skills to be successful in the NFL.
Marqueston Huff is solidly built at 5-foot-11, 196-pounds and looks smooth and athletic in the defensive backfield. Huff lined up at cornerback for most of his college career but moved to free safety for his senior season. He is more physical than his size would suggest and ran the 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.49 seconds. Huff may take some time to develop, but he shows the attributes of a starting NFL defensive back.
With long arms and strong body definition, Walt Aikens features a desirable blend of size and speed, running the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds at 6-foot-1, 203-pounds. Aikens transferred from Illinois and totaled seven interceptions with 15 passes defended for Liberty. He improved his stock at the Senior Bowl by showing solid man-coverage skills and has the potential to be a strong matchup for larger NFC North receivers.
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