Five possibilities for Detroit Lions in first round of NFL draft

Defensive line needs should be addressed early

Predicting the top 20 picks in the NFL draft is nearly impossible. It’s just too tough to know what 20 NFL general managers have up their sleeves.

It’s easy to determine need, but beyond that, good luck.

The Lions’ biggest needs appear to be on the defensive line. So taking a pass rusher with the 20th overall pick seems like a no-brainer. Almost.

It depends on the first 19 picks and, of course, the best player available philosophy plays a factor too.

So when it’s GM Bob Quinn’s time to pick, what will he do? It’s likely even he won’t know at 8 p.m. on Thursday when the draft starts. He’ll know what direction he’s leaning in, but so many variables will at work.

Quinn could trade up or down. He’s not desperate for a certain player and would love to add more draft picks (he has six) so maybe trading back would be more likely.

Here are my top five possible picks for the Lions with the 20th overall pick:

1. Defensive end Marcus Davenport (University Texas San Antonio). Yes, he’s raw but it’s not the only word that defines him. He’s long, strong and physical. Bo Davis, the Lions defensive line coach was his coach last season at UTSA. (Photo courtesy of UTSA)

2. Defensive end Harold Landry (Boston College). In 2016 he led the nation in sacks with 16.5, forced seven fumbles, had 22 tackles for a loss, six QB hurries, four pass breakups, an interception, 51 total tackles and a partridge in a pear tree. He battled injuries in 2017 so the numbers didn’t hold up.  Paul Pasqualoni, the Lions’ new defensive coordinator, was Landry’s line coach for the past two seasons.

3. Defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne (Alabama). He’s versatile, strong, comes from a big program and is just 20. He’ll turn 21 on May 27. His NFL.com draft profile includes this: “Quick to drop his anchor and grow roots.” He dominated inside against Georgia in the national championship game. The “weight room warrior” was named defensive MVP in Crimson Tide’s two playoff games last season.

4. Defensive tackle Taven Bryan (Florida). He’s been compared in size and athleticism to J.J. Watt. Was Gators’ best defensive player in 2017 with 40 tackles, six tackles for a loss and four sacks. Don’t overlook him. He’s son of a Navy Seal which might rate higher than being son of a coach. If Lions want him, could probably trade down a few spots and still have a shot.

5. Running back Derrius Guice (LSU). No question running back is a need. It’s likely the Lions could find a quality back in later rounds (maybe Rashaad Penny in the second or third round)  but if Guice is available he should at least make Quinn stop and think. His 2016 season was his best. Fought injuries in 2017 and it showed.

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Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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