Grade : B
Round 1 Pick 10 – Eric Ebron TE
Round 2 Pick 40 – Kyle Van Noy LB
Round 3 Pick 76 – Travis Swanson C
Round 4 Pick 133 – Nevin Lawson CB
Round 4 Pick 136 – Larry Webster III DE
Round 5 Pick 158 – Caraun Reid DT
Round 6 Pick 189 – T.J. Jones WR
Round 7 Pick 253 – Nate Freese K
After failing to make playoffs in 2013, the Lions came into the 2014 draft hoping to make additions that could push them into the 2014 post-season.
It may be rather stating the obvious, but with first round pick tight end Eric Ebron so much depends on how the Lions seek to use him.
Essentially, if Ebron is ever placed in any position where he needs to block either in pass protection or the run then I will be very worried about the success of the play and/or
the health of the player he blocks for. Ebron is an awful blocker. So much so that you could class him as a wide receiver than a tight end.
Put Ebron in a position where he is an option for the pass however, and he does look like a number 9 overall draft pick. In 2013, Ebron put up some truly amazing statistics. He
set school records for tight ends in four categories with 62 single-season receptions, 973 single-season receiving yards, 112 career receptions and 1,805 career receiving yards.
With the addition of Ebron, the already strong Lions receiving corp, which includes superstar Calvin Johnson and Superbowl winner Golden Tate, just got a lot stronger.
The Lions followed up the Ebron pick by taking players in the second and third rounds that are more need fillers that anything else.
Second round pick Kyle Van Noy is a versatile linebacker who can play in pretty much any scheme. In general he does a number of things well rather than anything spectacularly, a jack of all trades. However, his best defending tends to come against the run and that does provide a good balance to a Lions defense that is stacked with fearsome pass rushers.
Similar things can be said about third round pick Travis Swanson in that he is a solid if unspectacular player who fills a need. Starting center Dominic Raiola is currently 35 and obviously doesn't have a great many seasons ahead of him. As you might expect for a center taken in the third round, Swanson was one of the best centers in the draft.
At 6'5'' and 312 pounds he is a formidable presence on the line. His stock dipped somewhat after the Senior Bowl but Swanson showed himself to be a solid enough starter
at Arkansas where his blocking allowed RB Alex Collins to shine. He also has a vicious streak which might lead to penalties but I kind of like to see that in an offensive lineman.
Later on in the draft the Lions shifted gears and started drafting prospects rather than for need. Defensive end Larry Webster III went in the fourth round and DT Caraun Reid in the fifth.
At 6'6'' and 252 pounds, Webster is a special kind of athlete with all the physical talents to be an excellent defensive end. However, he needs to add muscle and develop his football skill. He is a project.
Whilst Reid picked up 20.5 sacks in college and was seen as a draft sleeper as his speed really allowed him to pressure interior linemen. If things click for him in the NFL he could be something special. He could be great value for a fifth round selection.
One area where the Lions draft struggled is at improving the secondary. Although the defensive front is good enough to disguise weakness in the defensive backs there are real concerns over fourth round pick cornerback Nevin Lawson. Although fast Lawson is short for a corner at 5'9'' and with the increasing use of tall 6' plus receivers Lawson could struggle.
Overall, the Lions improved in the draft but did they improve enough to make the playoffs in a tough NFC North?
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