The Lions still have work to do on the final day of the draft. They need depth along the defensive line at both defensive tackle and end. They need depth at linebacker, a third tight end, a guard or tackle and finally, a punter. But who’s still available? More importantly, who fits our schemes on offense and defense? Here is the list of talent that fit what the Lions our trying to do.
Alex Okafor, DE, Texas –
Sure, he missed all but the bench press at the NFL combine due to a bruised hip flexor he suffered at the Senior Bowl. He then followed that up by running a 4.91 40-yard dash at his Texas pro day.
However, tape doesn’t lie. He gets off the ball with ease, shows incredible strength in run defense — played defensive tackle for Texas as a sophomore — and has the quickness to get around the edge. He’ll never blow you away with athleticism, but has drawn high raves as a leader and through his work ethic. Okafor displays a powerful punch and arm extension which allows him into the backfield. His quick hands allow him to disengage lineman and help in run defense.
Barrett Jones, OG/C/OT, Alabama –
Hailed as a late first round pick, injuries have dropped Jones’ stock out of the third round. He has incredible versatility, playing inside at guard or center while kicking outside if need be. Hard worker who is a heralded leader (see national championship altercation with his quarterback). He would be a great value pick by the Lions.
Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama –
Yes, he played in a 3-4 system last year. But Nick Saban is know for his versatile schemes, and Williams adapted to each of them. He’s incredibly athletic, and can line up as a 1, 3 or 5 tech. With the Lions looking for depth, Williams could become a key cog behind Nick Fairly and Ndamukong Suh. Although it is unlikely he’s available late in the fourth, Detroit would jump at the possibility of adding him this late.
Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State –
Thomas has the instincts to become a ball-hawking safety at the next level. Led the nation with eight interceptions, three of those were returned for touchdowns. Solid hips in coverage, able to break on the ball with his quick twitch. Thomas is very good coming off the edge in blitzing situations, using his instincts to find the quarterback. The Lions re-signed Louis Delmas, but he still has question marks with recent injury history. Thomas would be great insurance.
Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee –
He’s big (6-foot-3, 217), strong, fast (4.52 forty-yard dash) kid who can upend coverage with his attributes. Physical player who does who gets to the top of his routes and sits. Was disciplined at Tennessee due to violations of team rules, which may scare the Lions off.
Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois –
In 2011, opposite 2012 first round draft pick Whitney Mercilus, Buchanan finished fourth in the conference with 7.5 sacks. After his impressive junior campaign, where he often looked better than Mercilus, Buchanan was projected as a potential first round pick. Over the summer, Buchanan was in an altercation that broke his jaw, leaving it wired shut for a week. With his all-liquid diet, Buchanan lost close to twenty-pounds before the season started. His production dropped off, garnering only 4.5 sacks in his senior season.
While Buchanan didn’t look the same player that terrorized the Big Ten in 2011, he showed flashes of being an excellent pass rusher, with the athleticism and strength to get around the edge.
Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Florida —
Jenkins is undersized and susceptible to being swallowed at the line of scrimmage. His aggressive, downhill style of play allows him to play sideline-to-sideline as a WLB. His 4.67 40-yard dash at Florida’s pro day shows his athleticism that you see on tape. The Lions certainly need depth, and Jenkins would certainly contribute immediately on special teams as a late round pick.
Jake Stoneburner, TE, Ohio State –
The Lions and free agent Will Heller have yet to come to a deal. They will need a third string tight end at some point. If the Lions choose to take a late round tight end, Stoneburner may bring the best value. After recording only 53 catches for 714 yards and 13 touchdowns in his Buckeye career, Stoneburner set out to prove himself at the NFL combine. He ran a 4.6 forty-yard dash (ranked third among TE’s), a 34.5 vertical leap (ranked 5th among Te’s) and tied for ninth in the bench press with 18. He has a ton of upside, which may lead the Lions to select him late in the draft.
Ace Sanders, WR, South Carolina —
the Lions need receiver depth, especially with quick, agile receivers. Sanders gives them that. They are also in dire need of a return specialist — following the debacle known as Stefan Logan. Sanders, on my board, is the best punt returner in this class. His quickness, vision, subtle side step (crucial to a great punt returner) and second gear allowed him to dominate the college game (returned 29 punts for 429 yards and two touchdowns). He is schooled in route running, stepping on defensive backs toes before making his cut. His quickness out of breaks allows him to win inside move. His inside foot often gets lazy, allowing him to slip or make a false step when making an outside cut.
His knock is size (5’8 175 punds) and speed (ran a 4.58 40-yard dash) he recorded at the combine. I tell you folks, combine 40-yard dash times are immensely overrated. He plays faster than his forty time suggests and has one of the top arsenal of moves of any receiver in this class.