Detroit Lions: Stanley Jean-Baptiste

There is frustration out there now, confusion amongst at least part of the Detroit Lions' fan base as to what the team did Thursday night.

Ebron
The Lions avoided defense and drafted a tight end (Eric Ebron) who is essentially a receiver. Though it might work out, the Lions play in the NFC North, so they still have to find enough good players to defend the best running back (Adrian Peterson), one of the top quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers) and one of the best receiving tandems (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery) in the NFL.
If there was a question about whether defense was a priority in the division, Green Bay, Chicago and Minnesota all chose defensive players.

This, though, is something the Lions can begin to remedy on Day 2 of the NFL draft, which begins at 7 p.m. on Friday with the second and third rounds. Here are 10 players to pay attention to as we assemble a second-day board.

1.CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska: He is the best cornerback left on the ESPN.com board and the No. 40 player overall. He has the size the Lions covet in their secondary -- listed at 6-foot-2 5/8 -- and has major potential. Not as polished as some of the first-round cornerbacks, but his size and speed could end up making him one of the top cornerbacks in this class after converting from wide receiver midway through his college career. Had 50 career tackles and seven career interceptions.

2.LB Kyle Van Noy, BYU: He’s the third-highest outside linebacker left on the ESPN.com board, behind Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu and Boise State’s Demarcus Lawrence. He can play against the run or the pass and should be able to stay on the field for three downs. He played in 52 games, had 226 tackles, 62 tackles for loss, 26 sacks and seven interceptions.

3.LB Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech: He is the highest-rated outside linebacker left on the ESPN.com board and the No. 30 player overall. Has good size at 6-foot-3 1/4. Doesn’t have fantastic instincts -- Van Noy is probably better there -- but is a good player who could make a difference immediately. Georgia Tech’s career sack leader with 31.5. Had 134 career tackles.

Jernigan
4.DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State: Doesn’t have ideal size but is very, very good against the run. Wouldn’t be pressured to start right away, but could become a rotational player with Nick Fairley immediately and eventually take over there. Had 63 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season for the Seminoles.

5.DL Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame: Personally love his game. Has the size where he could play left defensive end for the Lions in a 4-3 or get rolled inside to project as a tackle at some point. Had 19 career sacks and 127 career tackles. Really good pass-rusher who can also defend the run.

6.CB Pierre Desir, Lindenwood: Did not face elite talent but has the size Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin wants at 6-foot-1. Could end up as somewhat of a project at cornerback, but was named the country’s top “small school” defensive back last season.

McGill
7.CB Keith McGill, Utah: We've talked a lot about size with cornerbacks and McGill is the tallest cornerback in the draft. The No. 9 cornerback on the ESPN.com board, he grades out with above average cover skills and run support. Does not have great hands, though.

8.WR Cody Latimer, Indiana/Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt: I’m cheating here with two players, but these would be the two wide receivers I’d covet in the second round if the Lions just decide to go all-in on offense and roll with the defense they have. Both have extremely good size and could give the Lions a front line of every pass catcher other than Golden Tate being at least 6-foot-2. That said, if the Lions went offense in the second round, too, there would be some issues.

Ealy
9.DT Kony Ealy, Missouri: Is good against the run and the pass, and easily could have been a first-round target. Can theoretically play both inside and outside, much like Tuitt. Had 53 career tackles, 27.5 of them for loss and 14 of them sacks.

10.CB Bashaud Breeland, Clemson: A little bit under the preferred 6-foot mark, but is a physical player who can become a starter. Physical. Had 159 tackles and six interceptions in his career.

Other players to watch: S Terrence Brooks, Florida State; S Brock Vereen, Minnesota; DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota; DT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame; CB Phillip Gaines, Rice; DB Jaylen Watkins, Florida; LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin; LB Trent Murphy, Stanford; C Marcus Martin, USC; C Weston Richburg, Colorado State; QB Aaron Murray, Georgia; QB Zach Mettenberger, LSU.
The NFL draft is a day away, which means soon enough the Detroit Lions will have to reveal whether all of their Sammy Watkins attention and visits from Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack had substance or were designed to throw everyone off.

But the draft will be more than just one round for the Lions, who will need to use the three days in May to build depth on a roster that is big on stars but small on those players beyond the big names that can turn the Lions into a playoff team.

Every day up until the first day of the draft, we’ll look at a different position grouping and see what Detroit has and what the team could end up looking for during the 2014 draft.

Today continues with the cornerbacks.

Other previews

Players Lost: None.

Players Signed: Rashean Mathis (re-signed); Cassius Vaughn (signed from Indianapolis); Aaron Hester

Players on the roster: Chris Houston; Darius Slay; Bill Bentley; Jonte Green; Chris Greenwood; Akwasi Owusu-Ansah; Mathis; Hester; Vaughn.

Draft priority: High

Potential Rounds: Any

Players who have visited or the Lions have met with: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State; Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech; Bradley Roby, Ohio State.

Analysis: Since the end of last season, cornerback has been an obvious and major need for the Lions. That has not changed and, if anything, has heightened in the past few weeks as Houston continues to heal slowly from a toe injury.

That both Martin Mayhew and Jim Caldwell have expressed concern about Houston getting back to his 2012 form could be telling that the Lions believe they need to make a move on a cornerback, be it in the first, second or third round.

Add to that something else Mayhew said Monday – that by the third season, a cornerback is either going to get it or he won’t. Bentley, Green and Greenwood are all entering their third seasons. Slay is moving into Year 2. Owusu-Ansah will be in his fourth season in the league, but third with any experience. Between the five of them, the Lions have to hope they can find two good cornerbacks.

They re-signed Mathis as an insurance policy if the same thing happens in 2014 that happened in 2013, but the Lions would probably like to have him as a strong depth and fill-in performer instead of as their No. 1 corner, which he was in 2013.

Then there’s Houston, whom the Lions could be stuck with no matter what in 2014 because of the potential salary-cap hit if he were cut. But he is also in a play-or-be-cut season this year as well since the Lions are in a win-now mode anyway.

All of this means expect Detroit to once again take a cornerback fairly early in the draft, although the first round could be a stretch at No. 10. If the Lions trade down, though, or trade back up into the first round – cornerback could be a targeted possibility.

Of all reasonable options, I’d take: The ideal option in my head would be for the Lions to trade back to eventually take Fuller. But Fuller is probably too much of a reach at No. 10 to reasonably pull off. So if the Lions pick at No. 10 or trade up, watch for Stanley Jean-Baptiste from Nebraska in the second round.

Jean-Baptiste has the height defensive coordinator Teryl Austin covets – he wants corners over 6-feet – and has the experience playing big-time college football. He would be a good addition for the Lions, who have to deal with receivers Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson in the division, among others.

Possible targets: Gilbert; Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State; Fuller; Roby; Jean-Baptiste; Keith McGill, Utah; Phillip Gaines, Rice; Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma; Jaylen Watkins, Florida; Ross Cockrell, Duke; Dontae Johnson, North Carolina State.

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