CB, OLT, ORT, WR, DE
Round 1 - Riley Reiff/OT
Round 2 - Ryan Broyles/WR
Round 3 - Dwight Bentley/CB
Round 4 - Ronnell Lewis/DE
Round 5 - Tahir Whitehead/LB
Round 5 - Chris Greenwood/CB
Round 6 - Jonte Green/CB
Round 7 - Travis Lewis/LB
CB (veteran), WR (veteran), OT
For the first time in many years, the Lions were coming off of a playoff appearance, so their needs weren’t great coming into this year’s NFL draft.
The biggest need on offense was probably at left tackle, where veteran OT Jeff Backus is coming off biceps surgery and he turns 35 in September. With that being the case, the team addressed his probable successor in first-round pick Riley Reiff. However, it’s certainly questionable whether Reiff, who many project to be better off a right tackle, can play on the left side at the NFL level. In fact, some personnel sources believe he might be better off playing inside at guard.
The Lions certainly had a need to add a true slot receiver, so the selection of second-rounder Ryan Broyles makes a lot of sense. However, he’s still recovering from ACL surgery. In time, likely in his second season, Broyles figures to take over the No. 3 role. He’s much better in space than second-year WR Titus Young, who is better playing on the outside.
The biggest need coming into this draft on either side of the ball was at cornerback. And that position was addressed with third-round pick Dwight Bentley, who should be able to challenge for a starting job right away.
Depth at defensive end was a need, so the Lions addressed that with fourth-rounder Ronnell Lewis, who also might line up at SLB. Lewis, who is known for his physical style of play, could line up as a “Joker” or moveable pass rusher at the NFL level.
Fifth-round pick LB Tahir Whitehead will play on the outside in the Lions’ 4-3 defensive scheme. However, he played in a 3-4 in college, so it may take him some time to adjust to the scheme change at the NFL level. He also will need to bulk up a bit (weighed 233 at the NFL Combine), but has the ideal speed coaches look for at linebacker. Fellow fifth-round pick CB Chris Greenwood, like Whitehead, was a bit under-the-radar coming into the draft. And being that he was a Division III player and a non-NFL Combine invitee, it’s surprising that he even got drafted. However, Greenwood has really good size (6-1, 195) and had a very strong Pro Day.
Sixth-round pick CB Jonte Green, like Greenwood, was not invited to the NFL Combine. But Green is a decent developmental prospect because he’s willing to be physical.
Seventh-round pick LB Travis Lewis is capable of playing all three linebacker spots in the Lions’ defensive scheme. Lewis, because of his versatility and with no backup jobs set, could earn a job in training camp.
Overall, the Lions did a nice job of addressing depth and positional needs in this draft, but it will take some time to see how those players will fit in.