NFL Nation: Detroit Lions NFL Draft

One is going offense. One defense.

There is not one major need for the Detroit Lions in this May's draft, there are two -- and each of our draft analysts has hit on one of those needs in their second mock drafts of the year. No matter the order, wide receiver and cornerback are the spots the Lions are likely going to focus on with their first two picks.

Mel Kiper Jr. went with defense Insider, selecting Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert for Detroit with the No. 10 pick.

Gilbert, at 6-foot, possesses the size quotient that new Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has traditionally shown he likes in his cornerbacks. Gilbert is also considered the best cornerback in the draft, just a hair ahead of Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard.

"Gilbert has some competition to be the first corner taken, but I expect him to put up some pretty impressive numbers at the combine," Kiper Jr. wrote. "He should prove to be a pretty big draw in a league where big corners who can battle at the catch point, but also have elite speed and quickness are coveted. Detroit should get some development at corner on the current roster, but also could face some turnover. They need to place a bet on another young corner or two."

Kiper Jr.'s counterpart, Todd McShay, stuck with offense Insider and went with a player who is more of a project, but an intriguing talent, in Mike Evans from Texas A&M.

Evans fits the mold of what new Lions head coach Jim Caldwell likes at receiver, and is someone who can line up on the outside opposite Calvin Johnson. It would also give Detroit three tall red-zone threats for quarterback Matthew Stafford with Johnson, 6-foot-7 Joseph Fauria at tight end, and Evans, who is 6-4.

Unlike Gilbert, who is likely to be the first cornerback taken, Evans would be a stunning pick as the first receiver taken. If Clemson's Sammy Watkins fell to Detroit, the Lions would likely send rugby star Carlin Isles -- he's the fastest man in rugby and on the Detroit roster right now -- zooming to the podium to make the selection.

But Watkins will likely be gone, so Detroit could go with Evans, who is great when the ball is in the air.

"Evans still has some developing to do as a route runner, and yes, he has some immaturity issues and a tendency to get overly emotional," McShay wrote. "But he is an absolute pitbull on the field, and there is no reciever in this draft who is more dangerous when the ball is in the air. Both the tape and the advanced metrics support the case that he is the most proven down-the-field pass-catcher in the 2014 class. The Lions need a difference-maker opposite Calvin Johnson, and Johnson's leadership and experience could be just what Evans needs to avoid early career pitfalls."

A lot of things will start to have more direction in a couple of weeks, when the NFL has its annual combine in Indianapolis later this month.

Kiper mock 1.0 reaction: Lions

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
3:00
PM ET
There are two areas of major need for the Detroit Lions entering the 2014 draft -- wide receiver and cornerback -- and the team will have to take care of remedying one of those issues in the first round this May.

Colleague Mel Kiper Jr. has the Lions Insider taking Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert with the No. 10 pick in his first mock draft of the year, potentially solving at least one of Detroit’s issues.

Receiver Sammy Watkins from Clemson would be the obvious choice for Detroit, but the chances of him still lingering at the No. 10 pick -- especially when he might be the most talented player in the draft, period -- is unlikely. So after Watkins, the Lions need to weigh draft depth and who might be available to them in the second round as much as the first.

And that’s where taking a cornerback would be the potential smart choice here, especially if there is no corner in free agency that they are able to land. That could be difficult considering the Lions are in a tough salary cap spot right now.

So Kiper has the Lions taking Gilbert in the hopes that he’ll be a good cornerback to pair with last year’s second-round selection, Darius Slay, in the future.

“Has put together a great season after a subpar 2012,” Kiper wrote in his initial analysis of Gilbert. “Has short-area quickness to adjust to routes and the open-field speed to run with (or past) any receiver. Has the size to jam at the line and can then flip his hips and run; he rarely allows much separation. Good ball skills and hands, evident both in coverage and the return game. Squarely back into the mid-first-round mix.”

Gilbert had 42 tackles and seven interceptions last season. He’s also a 6-foot corner and weighs 200 pounds, which is decent size on the outside.

He would be brought in to try to improve a defense -- likely with a new defensive coordinator -- that was 23rd against the pass last season (246.88 yards per game) and 19th in yards per pass attempt (6.91).

Should Detroit draft Gilbert, the question is: What happens to the rest of the Lions cornerbacks? Chris Houston signed a five-year deal before last season, but had a very inconsistent 2013 and ended up being the Lions’ second cornerback instead of the No. 1 corner they had hoped.

Detroit’s top corner last season, Rashean Mathis, is an unrestricted free agent and made 47 tackles last season. He is 33 years old, but told ESPN.com he intends to try to play for one or two more seasons after he showed he was healthy this year.

The Lions also have a plethora of other young cornerbacks besides Slay: nickel Bill Bentley and reserves Jonte Green and Chris Greenwood. All have shown potential but none have shown they could be a consistent starter.

So if the Lions do select a cornerback in the first round, it could mean one or two of the cornerbacks from last season could be playing somewhere else in 2014.

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