By Brian Kalchik @RantsportsBrian on June 18, 2014
In this past NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions made eight selections over three days. While not every pick is expected to be a main contributor as a rookie, several, including top picks Eric Ebron and Kyle Van Noy, will be expected to win starting jobs right away and be major producers. As training camp approaches, here is how I see how each of the eight rookie draft picks will produce in 2014.
With the 10th overall pick in the draft, the Lions selected tight end Eric Ebron out of North Carolina. While tight end wasn't the team's biggest need at the time, the Lions deemed that Ebron was the best player available. In Detroit's new offense, Ebron will start right away and will be used like Jimmy Graham has been in New Orleans. He will be in the top three in receiving this season, and a threat for the Offensive Rookie of The Year award.
After trading with the Seattle Seahawks to move up in the second round, the Lions selected pass rusher Kyle Van Noy out of BYU. Van Noy will be expected to be the new strong side linebacker, replacing Ashlee Palmer. He will also be used in a Von Miller-like capacity on third down as an edge rusher with his hand on the ground. The linebacking corps will finally be shored up with Van Noy, and his presence off the edge will improve the defense.
With a need to find Dominic Raiola's eventual replacement at center, the Lions went ahead and selected Travis Swanson from Arkansas in the third round. While Swanson will be the starting center in 2015 and going forward, he will be a valuable piece this season. He provides great depth on the offensive line, and if Rob Sims starts to break down at left guard, Swanson has the potential to play some guard if need be.
With the first of two fourth-round picks, the Lions selected cornerback Nevin Lawson out of Utah State. While cornerback was a major position of need heading into the draft, the Lions waited until the mid-rounds to find their guy. Lawson was expected to compete for the nickel and dime-back positions as a rookie, but with Chris Houston's release, Lawson's chances at starting has greatly increased. Expect him to start at nickel and work his way up.
As the second of two fourth-round picks, Larry Webster is one of the more intriguing players in this team's class. While his listed position is at defensive end, some have suggested that he could be better as a tight end. For now, the Lions will use Webster as a defensive end. Webster is one of the rawest prospects in this year's class, and a redshirt season is expected out of this player.
With their fifth-round selection, Detroit selected Princeton defensive tackle Caraun Reid. While Reid is more suited as a 3-4 defensive lineman, his 301-pound frame will be a nice change off the bench. With Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley firmly entrenched as the starters, Reid will only be a situational player to begin the season; but as the season progresses, Reid will see more snaps.
With their sixth-round pick, Detroit selected Notre Dame wide receiver T.J. jones. Outside of Calvin Johnson and free agent acquisition Golden Tate, Detroit's receiving corps has more questions than answers. With not many high-caliber players on the current roster, Jones could be a surprise player this offseason. As a natural slot receiver, Jones has enough experience to compete for the third receiver job right away.
With their final pick, the Lions selected kicker Nate Freese out of Boston College. After selecting punter Sam Martin last year, the Lions will now have one of the youngest kicking units in the NFL. Freese will be expected to beat out George Tavecchio to become the team's next kicker. He replaces David Akers, who struggled mightily last season trying to replace the legend of Jason Hanson.
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