Lions Draft: Stud Defenders Highlight Intriguing Options Early Day 2

Adetomiwa Adebawore

Getty Adetomiwa Adebawore playing for Northwestern in 2020.

The Detroit Lions have plenty of draft capital to work with as the NFL draft shifts to day two in Kansas City.

After a trade on Thursday night with the Arizona Cardinals, the Lions now have picks 34, 48 and 55 in the second-round. They dealt away pick 81 in the third-round during the deal, but gained a very high pick at 34 in return.

That sets the team up to be very aggressive on Friday in potentially adding even more good players to the mix that will help them in the future. On both sides of the ball, there are some intriguing weapons the Lions could land with these picks, or even if they move back via trade.

What are some top options for the team tonight? Here’s a look at some of the names the Lions have to remember early on day two.

Hendon Hooker, Tennessee QB

While Will Levis is going to receive most of the attention for being available on the board, Hendon Hooker might quietly be the best prospect at the position left with the closest ties to Detroit.

Hooker met with the Lions at the Senior Bowl and in person, proving the team has done their homework on him as a prospect. If they want to prioritize the backup quarterback role, he could be one to watch out for.

There’s certainly no questioning the ability of the quarterback that transferred from Virginia Tech to Tennessee in 2021, however. Hooker put up 8,974 yards in his career and 80 passing touchdowns to just 12 interceptions. He also added 2,079 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground, proving his dual-threat impact.

There were rumors pre-draft that Hooker could work his way into the first-round, but that didn’t happen. As the second-round plays out, he could suddenly trend as a major lottery ticket for the Lions.

Michael Mayer, Notre Dame TE

The idea of picking a tight end in the first-round didn’t appeal to many Lions fans, but to see Michael Mayer lingering on the board on day two might be too sweet a deal for Detroit to pass up.

With the Fighting Irish, Mayer put up a total of 2,099 yards and 18 career touchdowns. He also had 180 total receptions in school, which helped him over the top as Notre Dame’s all-time receptions leader at the spot historically. Additionally, he earned consensus All-American honors for his work in 2022.

There’s little doubt Mayer is the most polished tight end in this year’s draft, and while he has slid, he could now be a major value down the board for a Detroit team that has some names at the spot, but none that offers the overall potential of a Mayer.

Brian Branch, Alabama CB/S

The Lions value players who have position versatility in the second level, much like C.J. Gardner-Johnson as well as Will Harris. Brian Branch would be another player just like that for the team.

At Alabama, Branch had fantastic numbers in three seasons of work, putting up 172 total tackles, four sacks, three interceptions and 23 passes defended. He is very athletic and has solid closing speed, which he always showed when he was on the field for the Crimson Tide.

Branch was voted a second-team AP All-American as well as a second-team All-SEC player for Nick Saban and his defense.

It’s surprising that Branch is on the board, but the Lions did homework on him in the process, making him a potential ideal fit for the team.

Joey Porter Jr., Penn State CB

The cornerback class is very deep, and when a player like Joey Porter Jr. slips into round two, the value could be overwhelming for the Lions, who passed on the addition day one.

While playing for Penn State, Porter has proven himself one of the top players at cornerback in the draft. Statistically, he’s been solid given he has racked up 112 total tackles, one interception and 20 passes defended in a four year career with the Nittany Lions.

Porter also has great bloodlines, with his father Joey Porter having an elite career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. This could be a potential home-run for a young and improving defense to add a player of Porter’s caliber at a position of need.

Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern DL

After missing out on some top end lineman such as Will Anderson Jr. as well as skipping on Jalen Carter and Tyree Wilson, the Lions could get some big value with Adetomiwa Adebawore in round two.

The Northwestern product was sneaky productive in the Big Ten, posting 97 total tackles, 24.5 tackles for-loss, 12.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and one interception in a stout four-year career.

Adebawore also had a sparkling NFL combine in which he put up a 4.49 40 yard-dash, which was the fastest time recorded for a player above 280 pounds. Adding his skillset to the Detroit line could make for a scary group up front.

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