Entering this year there is a lot of optimism from Detroit Lions fans. The optimism is well justified, as the Lions are currently the favorites to win the NFC North division, a feat they have not accomplished since 1993.
So why do the betting markets like the Lions to win a division they haven’t won in 30 years? For starters it’s expected that Aaron Rodgers will soon be traded out of the division and Green Bay will turn over the reigns to unproven Quarterback Jordan Love. The Minnesota Vikings, who won the division last year, are thought to be a bit of a paper tiger by the betting markets, and the Chicago Bears, albeit an improved team, were the worst team in the NFL last year.
All that coupled with the fact that the team has steadily improved year after year, under GM Brad Holmes and Head Coach Dan Campbell and there’s tons to like about the Detroit Lions this year.
They also happen to have a ton of draft capital, thanks to the trade with the L.A Rams two years ago, that saw them trade away former franchise Quarterback Matthew Stafford for two First round picks.
So what’s the best way for the Detroit Lions to maximize their draft haul and put the franchise in a great position both short-term and long term?
Here’s what I think the Detroit Lions should do in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
6th Overall Pick
DT Jalen Carter – I’ve seen a lot of people connecting Corner to the Lions with this pick. While they still may do so, I wouldn’t. The fact is, CB is a deeper position in this draft, and something that can be addressed later in the draft. DT is not a deep position. And Jalen Carter is levels above the next tier of guys. He would be an instant upgrade to their Run defense, which allowed 5.2 Yards per Carry last year, good for 2nd worst in the league. Carter would also bolster their interior Pass-rush.
18th Overall Pick
CB Deonte Banks – Despite adding Jalen Carter, the Detroit Lions still need to address the defense here. They got torched in the secondary last year giving up the 3rd most yards. They added Cam Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson which will all help, but they sorely lack a number one Cornerback. Deonte Banks has the physical attributes that could develop into being a number one Corner in the NFL.
48th Overall Pick
TE Luke Musgrave – Luke Musgrave would step in and give an already dynamic offense another weapon for defenses to contend with. Musgrave would give the Lions a replacement for T.J. Hockenson, who they dealt to the Minnesota Vikings in the middle of last season.
55th Overall Pick
WR Cedric Tillman – The Detroit Lions have a dynamic pass-catching duo in Wide Receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams. St. Brown does a lot of his damage in the slot, and underneath game. We didn’t get to see much of Williams last year due to his injury but he has game-breaking speed that can blow the top off a defense. Cedric Tillman’s skill-set fits in perfectly with both of them, as he plays on the outside and at 6″3 is a more physical Wide Receiver. He can make catches in traffic, and has a wide catch-radius, something that would pair well with the agility and speed of St. Brown and Williams.
A draft haul of Jalen Carter, Deonte Banks, Luke Musgrave and Cedric Tillman would position the Lions well in the short and long-term, and would further justify why the betting markets have them as the favorites to win the NFC North.