By Brad Berreman @bradberreman24 on April 27, 2014
The Detroit Lions finished 2013 with six losses in their final seven games, going from the driver’s seat in the NFC North to 7-9 and out of playoffs.
New head coach Jim Caldwell will look to lead a turnaround in the Motor City this year, and here are five draft sleepers who would be a good fit for the Lions.
Lyerla quit the team at Oregon last October, and later in the month he was arrested for cocaine possession and had his driver’s license suspended after multiple traffic tickets. Still, if the Lions are convinced those issues are behind him Lyerla has more upside as a receiver than Brandon Pettigrew or Joseph Fauria.
McGill is a big (6’3”) corner with decent speed (4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine). He played safety in junior college and after transferring to Utah, but a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the entire 2012 season brought a position move heading into last season.
Exum suffered a torn ACL in a pickup basketball game in January of 2013, then was bothered by a sprained ankle and played just three games as a senior. Versatility and special teams experience are significant strengths for Exum, and he could be a draft steal if 2013’s durability concerns are behind him.
Smallwood had a productive senior season (118 tackles, four sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss), but a pulled hamstring while running the 40 at the NFL Combine has him falling down draft boards a bit. The Lions should be seeking an heir apparent for Stephen Tulloch at middle linebacker, and Smallwood fits the bill in terms of productivity and versatility.
Joyner is undersized (5’8”, 184 lbs.), but he has experience at both safety and corner and plays with a physical style that the Lions’ secondary needs.
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