Perfect Picks 2024: Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions enjoyed an incredible 2023 season. Dan Campbell’s squad rode a Honolulu Blue tidal wave to an NFC Championship appearance. The Lions ultimately fell short, but Detroit did tick off numerous important milestones. The Lions won their first NFC North division title, their first playoff game in nearly three decades, and vanquished ghosts of their haunted history.

However, the Lions must find the right ingredients for the final step. A prudent free agency period with the signings of Carlton Davis, Amik Robertson, Marcus Davenport, Kevin Zeitler, DJ Reader, Graham Glasgow and Emmanuel Moseley has provided Detroit with draft flexibility. It also ensures the Lions don’t need to overpursue players based on draft needs.

Nevertheless, Brad Holmes could unlock a new level for the Lions with these perfect picks.

Round 1 - Chop Robinson, Edge, Penn State

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The Lions need to find another destructive pass-rusher opposite Aidan Hutchinson. Detroit’s pass rush was often lopsided, with Hutchinson dominating the pressure, quarterback hits, and sack statistics. The Lions have signed former New Orleans Saint Marcus Davenport to a one-year deal and still have specialist third-down rusher James Houston, but the Lions must look for Hutchinson’s long-term partner.

Penn State’s highly athletic Chop Robinson would be a potentially perfect option. Robinson starred at the combine with a RAS score of 9.68 out of ten. Robinson tested elite in speed and explosiveness.

With a high motor, explosive get-off and ability to close, Robinson could be the perfect game-wrecker for Detroit. A First-Team All-Big Ten selection in 2023, Robinson can overwhelm blockers at the initial point of contact.

A toolsy prospect with great potential, Robinson ticks several Lions’ boxes. He is highly athletic, relentless and brimming with upside. With Hutchinson and Davenport set to start, the Lions can slowly bring Robinson along and extract all his ability.

Round 2 - Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB, Missouri

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The signing of Carlton Davis has gone some way to alleviate any concerns the Lions had at the cornerback position. It was a significant area of need and while Davis hasn’t been a top-tier corner, he should be serviceable as a starter. On the other side of the field Amik Robertson comes over from the Raiders, meaning the Lions don’t need to depend on the sketchy injury history of Emmanuel Moseley. All that said, adding further depth and long-term talent at the position is important.

Ennis Rakestraw Jr. formed an excellent corner tandem with Kris Abrams-Draine in Missouri last season. The Tigers defense was a big part of their success in the SEC and Rakestraw epitomised the physicality needed to succeed in the NFL. That is a perfect match for the way Dan Campbell wants his guys to play the game. Even at 5’11, Rakestraw comes downhill like a man possessed and wraps up in the tackle well.

He saw his draft stock dip a bit after an underwhelming combine performance. Rakestraw recorded a 4.54 40-yard dash and an overall relative athletic score of 4.79. That means he is more likely to come off the board on Day 2 but the tape was good enough to get him round 1 reviews. He certainly makes a lot of sense for the Lions at this spot.

Mid Round Gem - Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan

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Amon-Ra St. Brown has developed into one of the better receivers in the NFL and will be expecting compensation to reflect that. Outside of him there are some question marks at receiver for the Lions. Jameson Williams missed time in 2023, but the flashes of his explosive speed were tantalising. Josh Reynolds is the major loss and therefore adding a receiver in this year’s draft seems highly likely.

We don’t have the Lions venturing too far to find one in this scenario. They go down the road to Michigan and grab Roman Wilson. He played mostly out of the slot for the Wolverines and that could cause a clash with how the Lions use St. Brown, but, his speed and route running would enhance this group spectacularly. With an assortment of weapons like this, Jared Goff would certainly be primed for another run at the Super Bowl.

Late Round Sleeper - Dylan McMahon, C, NC State

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Nobody epitomised the toughness of this Lions’ regime more than Frank Ragnow in 2023. The experienced center battled through injury on numerous occasions and it led to a period of contemplation at the end of the campaign. Ragnow seriously considered stepping away from the game, but as part of a franchise so close to reaching the mountain top, it’s no surprise to see him return to the team and again lead from the front.

All that said, there will be a foreboding feeling for Campbell and co. One of their best players and most vocal leaders is effectively on borrowed time. Taking late round swings at replacing him is probably the best answer for now, until the need is more pressing that the investment has to be larger.

Dylan McMahon offers late round value as a center-only prospect. What he lacks in size (6’3, 299lbs and 31 ¾ in arm length) he makes up with in athleticism and mobility. McMahon recorded a RAS of 9.43, displaying great explosion and movement skills at the combine. While the Lions may look to add bulk to McMahon, he is a different prospect to that of Ragnow. However, his high football IQ suggest he will stick somewhere even if it is only as a backup.

Draft in full

Round 1 – Chop Robinson, Edge, Penn State

Round 2 – Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB, Missouri

Round 3 – Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan

Round 3 – Justin Eboigbe, DL, Alabama

Round 5 – Dylan McMahon, C, NC State

Round 6 – Sione Vaki, RB, Utah

Round 7 – Jackson Mitchell, LB, UConn