By Todd Singer @breakingbadfish on May 5, 2014
The Detroit Lions have eight picks in the 2014 NFL Draft, three in the fourth round alone. The Lions are coming off a disappointing season in which they faltered down the stretch and went from playoff contender to top 10 pick. While Detroit has several holes to fill, they're picking in a prime spot in the first round, so don't be surprised to see them move back and try to accumulate an extra pick or two.
The Lions will likely have their pick of top prospects when their selection comes up and, for that reason, they could look to trade back and acquire an extra pick in the process. Aaron Donald would seem to be a great fit in Chicago, so the Bears could trade up, moving Detroit four spots back. In that spot, Detroit could opt for Gilbert, a cornerback with great size and speed who would come in handy against the Bears' and Packers' passing games.
The Lions have LaAdrian Waddle at right tackle, but he's only in his second season and they could really use some insurance for their star QB, Matthew Stafford. Bitonio is one of the faster rising prospects in the draft thanks to his ability to play both inside at guard or kick outside to tackle. Protecting Stafford should be the Lions' No. 1 concern and slotting in Bitonio across from Riley Reiff would go a long way towards ensuring that.
Even after adding Golden Tate in free agency, the Lions are looking for some more depth in their receiving corps. Ryan Broyles is seemingly always injured and Jeff Dunham, while serviceable, isn't much more than a fourth receiver. Moncrief has a good size and speed combination, but due to the depth of WRs, he could be a steal for some team in the third round. Lining him up next to Tate and Calvin Johnson would make the Lions' offense scary.
With the pick they acquired in the hypothetical trade back in the first round, the Lions could look to address their linebacking corps. Outside of Stephen Tulloch in the middle, there's not much to write home about and adding a prospect like Hubbard would be a good idea. While no guarantee to start off the bat, Hubbard has good pedigree coming out of the 'Bama defense, and his ability to track down opposing ball carriers makes him a good fit.
Even though they brought in James Ihedigbo in free agency to replace the inconsistent Louis Delmas, the Lions need to find a long-term answer at safety. While Vereen isn't on the same level as some of the draft's top safeties, he's got good speed and ball instincts and isn't afraid to help out in the box. Although Vereen still could use some seasoning, he's a player who could step into the safety rotation immediately.
Although it seems to have just been idle speculation, there had been rumors about Detroit looking to trade Ndamukong Suh this offseason. Even if they hold on to Suh, it's always possible he earns himself a multi-game suspension, so the Lions should have a contingency plan ready to go. Johnson was one of the better defensive linemen in the SEC, and his ability to collapse the pocket and take on multiple blockers should entice some team.
Seantrel Henderson is one of the biggest enigmas in this draft, a player with tremendous talent whose work ethic has frequently come into question. Henderson's a mountain of a man with quick feet, but he doesn't seem to possess the drive to be great. Some team will undoubtedly take a chance that they can turn the light on and allow Henderson to meet his potential. Why not Detroit?
Michael Sam got a lot of press when he announced before the draft combine, that he was a gay athlete. If/when he's drafted, Sam will become the first openly gay player in the NFL. Sam's sexual orientation aside, he was a defensive menace at Missouri, winning SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Even though his measurables aren't great, some team will take the chance that his production wasn't a fluke.
Sam's teammate at Missouri, Andrew Wilson, was the team's leading tackler for three consecutive seasons and finished 10th all-time in tackles in Tigers history. While Wilson's speed and size are questionable at the next level, his ability to find and bring down the ball carrier will likely earn him a look in the later rounds as teams in need of low-risk, high-reward players start snatching up players whose production outweighed their measurables.
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