Despite missing the playoffs and undergoing a head coaching change, the Detroit Lions really aren’t in a profoundly transitional situation. Their franchise quarterback is in place and their offensive coordinator remained from the previous coaching staff. They have a healthy and young offensive line, a strong receiver corps, and a secondary boasting an elite free safety and one of the top shutdown corners in the game.
Still there are concerns. The interior defensive line is a mess, Ziggy Ansah is a free agent who will likely be paid more than he’s worth elsewhere, and a feature running back is still a top priority. Using the FanSpeak On The Clock Mock Draft Simulator, here is one realistic scenario that would make sense for the Lions in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Round 1, pick 20: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
Landry is likely going to be my No. 2 edge rusher in the 2018 class, the best one the Lions are going to have a shot at. He is a little small for a defensive end, but Landry is a technically sound run defender with the best speed-or-bend pass rush ability in the draft. He is not a finished product but has traits that can’t be taught. He delivers crazy production when he’s healthy. It’s probably a long shot to think Matt Patricia will value an edge rusher this highly coming from New England, but Landry might be too good to pass up if he’s there at No. 20.
Round 2, pick 51: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
I really don’t think Michel will still be on the board at this point, but it was still within the realm of possibility and he was there for the taking, so I may have slightly cheated by nabbing him. He’s a true feature back who could transform Detroit’s rushing attack instantly if the offensive line stays healthy. Michel’s vision, burst and balance through contact are elite, and his production at Georgia was nothing short of jawdropping. He’s a first-round talent who shouldn’t fall this far, but if he does, Detroit will have the steal of the draft.
Round 3, pick 82: Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State
If you’ve never heard of Shepherd, just wait. His tape at Fort Hays State isn’t the most polished performance, but Shepherd has deadly hands, an explosive first step and legitimate pass rush moves. He’s an upfield penetrator who will need to be taught the finer points of the position, but his upside is through the roof.
Round 4, pick 119: Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech
You don’t get many 335-pounders who can move like Settle, and Patricia knows the importance of stopping the run and having a strong rotation on the defensive line. Settle will join A’Shawn Robinson, Akeem Spence and Shepherd to form a versatile and vastly more talented interior defensive front.
Round 5, pick 155: Colby Gossett, OG, Appalachian State
Gossett is a highly athletic guard with terrific movement skills and ideal length for the position. He can really move as a zone blocker, hitting tough reach blocks from his right guard spot with explosive footwork and terrific hand usage. Gossett needs some work in pass protection, but his stock could be on the rise with a strong combine after he stood out at the Senior Bowl.
Note: The Lions traded away their sixth- and seventh-round picks.