The Detroit Lions are busy focusing on their solid start to the 2019 NFL season rather than looking toward the 2020 NFL Draft at this moment, but it’s still fair for fans to wonder what might happen if the selection meeting was to play out today.
Thanks to their solid start to the year, the Lions would have a pick near the middle of the first round at this point in time. And while many would say it’s silly to speculate about who the team could end up with months from now given how drastically things can and do change, it’s clear that the team might still have a shot at a few elite talents.
Recently, plenty of publications have put forth their first mocks after the start of the season, and the Lions have a familiar theme in terms of the players they could be looking to target in the minds of some analysts.
So who could be on tap and would the pick make sense for the Lions? Here’s a look at breaking down several of the early projections regarding who Detroit could pick up.
Yahoo Sports (Eric Edholm)
Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Edholm sends Simmons to the Lions and explains that he is a player who can do a bit of everything for the defense in becoming that side of the ball’s T.J. Hockenson for Detroit. Hockenson has been a revelation on offense with his multiple skill set in terms of blocking and catching and even showing some athleticism. To this end, Edholm thinks Simmons could be a player that could do a ton of stuff for Matt Patricia’s defense in terms of
Simmons has been productive in college, totaling 177 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 interception and 4 forced fumbles to this point of his career with time left to make those numbers impress even more. Detroit hasn’t been shy about adding linebacker depth during the offseason, so it will be something to keep an eye on to see if there is a player who can catch the attention of the team. Bob Quinn has said in the past linebacker is the most difficult spot to fit into Detroit’s defense given what they ask the player to do, so a safer bet may be to look elsewhere. If Simmons proves to be versatile, though, he could make sense.
Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer)
Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Fulton, according to Iyer, would be a great fit for Patricia and the Lions given their issues in finding a second cornerback to play opposite Darius Slay. This season, the backfield has done a nice job keeping things in check for the Lions led by Justin Coleman, but depth there has always been a problem through the years.
Fulton hasn’t been hugely productive in college, putting up 77 tackles and 1 interception to this point in his career. The Lions have passed on other LSU prospects such as Greedy Williams last year. Fulton may have more of the tangibles they like such as 6-0 size, but will the Lions once again look to free agency to solve depth issues on the back end? The group is playing well so far, so the question begs, would they spend another high pick on a cornerback, something that hasn’t been done since the Teez Tabor experiment recently failed?
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CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson)
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
If Lamb were the pick like Wilson suggests, it would represent just the second offensive skill position player selected by the Lions in the first round under Bob Quinn since he took over in Detroit. The future is the reason Wilson hints at this move, as he explains that Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay are both impending free agents after 2020. Depth might be needed at the position soon, and Lamb is called a game-changer in the piece. When looking at his production in college, it’s easy to see how that is the case given 2,379 yards and 24 scores to this point of his career.
Detroit hasn’t drafted a wideout that has stuck on the roster since Golladay, and while he’s probably not going anywhere thanks to the chemistry he has with Matthew Stafford, it’s wise to wonder if the team might need a few more young pieces coming up for depth. Thus, it might not be the worst time to consider picking up a wideout fairly early. It’s a fascinating idea based on the notion that the Lions might finally be able to draft for the best weapon rather than to fill a glaring roster hole.
Bleacher Report (Joe Tansey)
Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Alabama players are usually projected to Detroit fairly early, and McKinney represents one of the first this year courtesy of Tansey. While there is no explanation provided for the pick in the mock, it is certainly easy to understand why Detroit could choose to look in this direction.
In his Alabama career, McKinney has put up 121 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles in his career. That’s the type of across the board production Patricia and company might love. Indeed, Detroit’s coach has often called the safety one of the most important positions on the defense, so seeing the team nab another one after drafting two in the last two years (Tracy Walker and Will Harris in back to back third rounds) might not be much of a surprise at all.