Football Memo

NFC North Draft Grades: Detroit Lions

Tight end Eric Ebron

Tight end Eric Ebron

Detroit Lions
Once again the Detroit Lions neglected glaring needs in the defensive secondary, instead opting to create more mismatches on offense by selecting tight end Eric Ebron at No. 10 overall. While I think No. 10 was too high for Ebron, I do like the fit. If Ebron, who has some red flags regarding work ethic and maturity, can develop into a threat down the middle of the field, the Lions should become even more dangerous offensively. A pass-catching tight end that can threaten the deep middle of the defense will help keep safeties from focusing on double teaming Calvin Johnson. With the addition of Ebron, and free-agent signing, Golden Tate, the Lions have improved an already lethal passing attack. My favorite pick for the Lions was the addition of linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who is a steady performer and has a good all-around game. Van Noy is a good pass rusher, but also can play in space. He also is a good leader, and brings a reliable, versatile asset to Detroit’s linebacking corps. In the third round, Detroit added needed depth to the interior offensive line with Arkansas center, Travis Swanson. In the fourth round, Detroit selected cornerback Nevin Lawson and defensive end Larry Webster. Lawson is small (5-9, 190), but has the necessary quickness to become a good slot corner. Webster is more of a developmental prospect, but has the length and speed to become a good pass rusher. He possibly could see time early on special teams, and as a situational rusher. The Lions grabbed another developmental player with good upside in the fifth round – adding defensive tackle Caraun Reid to an already stout front. Reid was a steal at this point of the draft, and getting him, gives the Lions depth and options should they decide not to extend the contracts of starters Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. I also liked the addition of receiver T.J. Jones in the sixth round. Jones is not going to wow anyone with his athletic measurable, but is a solid route runner and has reliable hands. The Lions took a bit of a gamble with its top pick, but later added solid players that should help the team. Whether or not Ebron becomes a star, will ultimately decide this final grade.
Grade: C+

Detroit Lions – 2014 Draft Selections
1 (10) Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
2 (40) Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
3 (76) Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
4 (133) Nevin Lawson, DB, Utah St
4 (136) Larry Webster, DE, Bloomsburg
5 (158) Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
6 (189) T.J. Jones, WR, Notre Dame
7 (229) Nate Freese, K, Boston College

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