Lions Projected to Find Value With Double Dib on Defense in NFL Draft

Dan Campbell Kool-Aid McKinstry

Getty Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson predicted the Detroit Lions to draft cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry and edge rusher Jonah Elliss in the first two rounds of the 2024 NFL draft.

The Detroit Lions have been a popular landing spot for Alabama cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry in NFL drafts this offseason. But Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson proposed the Lions not only draft McKinstry but also target another defensive need during the second round.

In his latest mock draft, Monson had the Lions grabbing McKinstry at No. 29 overall in the first round.

“Once seen as the best cornerback in the draft, Kool-Aid McKinstry represents excellent value at this point in the first round,” Monson wrote. “He earned an 88.8 overall PFF grade last season and was targeted only 39 times all year because of what he had already put on tape throughout his college career.”

The consensus NFL draft big boards from ESPN and’s Daniel Jeremiah have McKinstry ranked outside the top 32 prospects. But the big board from PFF has McKinstry rated at No. 26 overall.

Then at No. 61 in the second round, Monson predicted the Lions to draft Utah edge rusher Jonah Elliss.

“This offseason has been about upgrading the defensive line for the Lions, continuing with Jonah Elliss,” Monson wrote. “He posted a 90.6 PFF pass-rushing grade against true pass sets last season.”

The PFF big board has Elliss ranked as the No. 55 overall prospect.

Lions Predicted to Target Alabama CB Kool-Aid McKinstry

Before the draft process began, Bleacher Report’s NFL scouting department argued the Lions should move up 15 spots to grab McKinstry at No. 14 overall. But early in the offseason, his draft stock fell because of injury concerns.

At the NFL combine, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that doctors diagnosed him with a Jones fracture. That injury consists of a broken bone on the inside of the foot on the pinky toe side. Jones fractures typically occur from overtraining or more pressure on the foot because of weight gain.

Jeremiah didn’t mention McKinstry’s injury at all in his analysis of the cornerback’s draft stock on April 3. It’s unclear if his injury recovery resulted in the change, but on Jeremiah’s latest big board, McKinstry rose six spots.

The Alabama cornerback, though, still sat at No. 36 overall among all prospects because of other potential concerns.

“Overall, Kool-Aid has a lot of redeeming qualities,” Jeremiah wrote. “From off coverage, everything he does is smooth, but he lacks twitch and urgency. He does find and play the ball well, both in front of him and down the field. He isn’t ultra aggressive when it comes to getting involved in the run game, but he’s a reliable tackler in space.

“He’s not the fastest cornerback, but he showed enough speed at his pro day to help his stock heading into the draft.”

The Lions have shored up cornerback with multiple additions and re-signings this offseason. But the team released veteran cornerback Cameron Sutton, which was an unexpected move before the offseason.

So, Detroit could still target cornerback such as McKinstry early in the 2024 draft.

Lions Projected to Nab Utah’s Jonah Elliss in Second Round

The Lions finished 27th in passing yards allowed last season. That’s why Detroit made cornerback a significant emphasis in NFL free agency.

But the team also aimed to add to its pass rush, which was tied for 23rd in the league in sacks last season.

The Lions signed defensive end Marcus Davenport and defensive tackle D.J. Reader in NFL free agency. But neither are locked onto a contract longer than two years.

Therefore, it would be surprising if the Lions don’t add another edge rusher to potentially be the future bookend to defensive end Aidan Hutchinson.

Elliss doesn’t have the best traits, but he could provide value as a late second-round choice.

“He lacks ideal size and athleticism on the edge but the same could be said about his brother, Kaden, when he was a prospect, and he’s now a highly productive NFL linebacker,” wrote’s Lance Zierlein. “Jonah plays with a motor that exposes blockers who aren’t finishers.

“He needs more muscle but could become a rotational 3-4 rush linebacker with above-average special teams qualities.”

With that evaluation, though, it’s worth wondering how he will fit with the Lions, who play a 4-3 defense.

But last season, Elliss had no problem making impactful plays. He had 12 sacks and 16 tackles for loss in 10 games at Utah.

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