Saturday, May 10, 2014
Looking at final day prospects for the Lions
By Michael Rothstein
Some needs have been taken care of. Others, somewhat startlingly, remain on Detroit’s board. This is how the final day of the 2014 NFL draft will begin for the Lions.
With a few answers, a lot of questions and, as of now, four picks remaining. In those four picks -- two of which can’t be traded -- the Lions will likely have to find a developmental quarterback and potentially some depth at linebacker and the defensive line. Maybe another wide receiver.
Oh, and if you missed it, the Lions still have addressed zero needs in the secondary, a position of constant flux in Detroit.
Entering Saturday's four rounds, the Lions have picks Nos. 133 and 136 in the fourth round, pick 146 in the fifth round and No. 189 in the sixth round. It wouldn’t be shocking, though, to see Detroit trade either a player or a pick either this year or next to acquire at least one more selection.
Either that, or they’ll just have to have faith that they can unearth undrafted free-agent contributors like they did with LaAdrian Waddle and Joseph Fauria last season.
Here, though, are 10 players Detroit may target during the final day of the draft. Not the order of their board, just players that could get a heavy look at some point.
1. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: The Lions will likely take a developmental quarterback and Murray is a potential choice. Of course, if Tom Savage or A.J. McCarron are still around when they pick at the end of the fourth round, they could look to one of those players, too.
2. Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood: As mentioned Friday, he has the height Teryl Austin wants at the position. That he is still around on the third day might have more to do with the competition he played in his career than his actual talent level.
3. Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson: Another player on our Friday list, he is a physical corner who likely won’t last until Detroit’s pick, but should get picked up quick if he is.
4. Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota: He has versatility in that he could play safety, nickel and corner if need be. He's very good against the run, which means he could allow Glover Quin to play deep if he were able to beat out James Ihedigbo for the job. Smart player and good instincts.
5. Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina: He's better against the run than the pass and would be a developmental pick.
6. Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida: He would be a major chance pick, but if he worked out -- and if he doesn’t get drafted, he should be an immediate priority free agent call because of his talent -- he could be a late-round gem. He is extremely talented and if he can deal with some issues with homesickness, he could be a steal.
7. Yawin Smallwood, LB, Connecticut: Classic production-type player that could be a late-round find. He’s not going to wow you in any area, but he is a fundamentally strong football player who is not afraid of contact and is good against the run.
8. Jaylen Watkins, DB, Florida: The Lions did extensive research on his half-brother, Sammy, but they could end up with Jaylen. He can play both corner and safety if need be, and like Vereen above, is going to just be an average player who won’t be a huge difference-maker but won’t hurt you too much, either. If the Lions have some confidence in their secondary, they could take Watkins as a plug-in player at either spot.
9. Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson: It would be doubtful he’d still be there at the end of the fourth round, but he is one receiver that could be worth taking at that point. His size/speed combination would be of great value at that point and could turn the Lions’ pass-catching operation into a group Matthew Stafford could almost never aim too high on with a ball.
10. Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU: Instinctual player who can handle the run and play every down. If the the Lions were to ever consider making the move to a 3-4 defense or a true hybrid-capability defense, they need to find at least one more linebacker since they might have a lot of those pieces on the defensive line already. He also has special-teams experience, which is a late-round key for Detroit. Watch this name.
Others to watch (draft or free agents): Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU; Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech; McCarron; Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin; Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh; Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan; Bennie Fowler, WR, Michigan State; Matt Patchan, OT, Boston College; Conor Boffeli, OG, Iowa; Gabe Ikard, C, Oklahoma; Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton; Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU: Larry Webster, DE, Bloomsburg; Michael Sam, DE, Missouri; Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA; Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State; Denicos Allen, LB, Michigan State; Avery Williamson, LB, Kentucky; Prince Shembo, LB, Notre Dame; Devon Kennard, LB, USC; Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty; Ty Zimmerman, S, Kansas State; Lonnie Ballentine, S, Memphis; Nate Freese, K, Boston College.