The Detroit Lions have nine picks in this weekend’s 2019 NFL Draft. Now’s the time to strike gold as they compete in the tough NFC North.
The week is finally here. We’ve all been anxiously awaiting the 2019 NFL Draft, and now we’re only hours away.
Buzz is high this year with the drama taking place at the top of the draft. What the Arizona Cardinals inevitably decide to do at quarterback could throw a wrench in every teams’ plans, starting immediately with the San Francisco 49ers at two.
Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn has several ways he could take his team at eight overall. Defense or offense? Need or best player available? We know head coach Matt Patricia would love to continue adding to his defense, but it’s ultimately Quinn’s decision.
One final time this draft season, let’s project the direction Quinn and company takes the Detroit franchise as they prepare for the 2019 season and beyond.
Round 1, Pick 8: T.J. Hockenson | TE | Iowa
Jesse James signed this offseason, but that doesn’t change this pick at eight overall. TJ Hockenson makes too much sense for a Lions offense that needs a dual-threat tight end. He’s arguably one of the best prospects available in the 2019 draft class in terms of a low-floor, high-reward.
Hockenson didn’t wow anybody at the NFL Combine in terms of athleticism. Anything you need to see is on the tape. Teams know what he’ll bring to an NFL franchise for the next 10+ years.
Round 2, Pick 43: Juan Thornhill | S | Virginia
It was a tale of two different draft seasons for Hockenson and safety Juan Thornhill. Hockenson has been a consensus first-round pick since he declared in January but Thornhill has steadily risen up draft boards since his combine performance. Much like Byron Jones did a few years ago out of Connecticut, Thornhill had combine bests at both the vertical jump (44”) and broad jump (141”).
If Thornhill lasts to pick number 43, he’s an obvious fit for Detroit’s secondary. He’d jump in and replace former safety Glover Quin from day one. If needed, he could make a switch to cornerback, a position he played earlier in his collegiate career at Virginia. He makes more sense playing as a back-end safety for Patricia’s defense.
Round 3, Pick 88: Maxx Crosby | EDGE | Eastern Michigan
Like Thornhill, Maxx Crosby used the combine to rise up draft boards. Similar to other Mid-American prospects, Crosby is considered to be raw as far as development goes, but flashes of talent back up what scouts saw in Indianapolis.
At 6-5, 255 pounds, a 4.66 40-yard dash is impressive on its own. Throw in a 36” vertical and 122” broad jump, and you start to turn heads at the pro level. Crosby would have an opportunity to learn from one of the NFL’s brightest defensive minds in Patricia and watch Trey Flowers every day in practice.
Round 4, Pick 111: Nate Davis | G | Charlotte
It’s a stretch that Nate Davis will be around when the Lions pick in the fourth round but it’s possible. Teams love his potential after a great career on the field for the 49ers in Charlotte, but he did have a couple of eligibility issues and suspensions, including one that stemmed from issues in the classroom.
For the Lions, a player like Davis, who played guard and most recently right tackle, is a must this weekend. I don’t believe he starts in 2019, but his versatility at both the guard and tackle position makes him an appealing player to develop at the pro level.
Round 5, Pick 146: Germaine Pratt | LB | NC State
Linebacker is one of those spots that if you don’t get one of the top two prospects – Devin White and Devin Bush – early then it’s a toss-up where they can go. Germaine Pratt was arguably the best linebacker in the ACC this past season and, if drafted by Quinn, could be the best linebacker in Detroit in 2019.
Round 6, Pick 184: Jimmy Moreland | CB | James Madison
Justin Coleman was brought in this offseason after a solid 2018 season in Seattle. His primary spot will be as the nickel corner which means Patricia needs to sift through other CB’s to find the one that starts opposite Darius Slay in 2019.
With that being said, Jimmy Moreland’s primary assignment will be special teams to start but with a good camp, he could make the roster and possibly find himself active on gameday. His size (just 5-9, 179 lbs) will force him to play inside as Coleman’s backup.
Round 6, Pick 204: Darwin Thompson | RB | Utah State
The depth in the running back class this year is deep. Some may say it’s as deep as the defensive line position. It’s not a massive need for Detroit with Kerryon Johnson and CJ Anderson expected to be the lead backs, but Darwin Thompson could rival Theo Riddick for a roster spot.
Round 7, Pick 224: John Cominsky | EDGE | Charleston
The seventh round is a place to find depth. Typically, it’s not a place you look for contributors for day one but primarily raw prospects that could find themselves in the rotation after a year or two of development. John Cominsky, who was a Reese’s Senior Bowl invite, played quite a bit of edge but his lack of speed should push himself inside as a quality run stuffer.
Round 7, Pick 229: Keelan Doss | WR | UC-Davis
Keelan Doss is just the next small-school receiver you’re going to want to know. He has NFL traits and comes in with the size teams covet at the position. Quinn isn’t shy taking a stab at a small-school receiver prospect, much like he did with Kenny Golladay in the third round two years ago. He struck gold then. Doss could be next.