I decided to infiltrate enemy lines and take a closer look at the non-Bears classes in the NFC North, beginning with the Detroit Lions. I will share a pick of theirs that I liked (struck gold), a pick that I didn’t like (struck out), and give a rundown of how I see some of the rookies making an impact in year 1.
The Lions made it clear that they wanted to upgrade their secondary in order to stop Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky, who burned them last year. How did they do?
Struck Gold With: Amani Oruwariye, Corner Back, Round 5, Pick 186
I easily could’ve gone with the Lions’ first round pick, T.J. Hockenson, because he was a top 5 player on my board. However, I chose Amani Oruwariye instead because he isn’t as universally known. I had a mid-day two (late second/early third round) value on him, yet the Lions were able to steal him in the fifth round.
Oruwaryie has the size, strength, athleticism, and fluidity to be an excellent press corner. Yet, he just isn’t very comfortable jamming receivers at the LOS because he barely was asked to do it at Penn State. Matt Patrica might make some questionable decisions as a head coach, but if he has learned anything from Bill Belichick, it is how to teach fundamentals.
Rashaan Melvin is slated to be the starting corner opposite of Darius Slay, but I would not be surprised if Oruwaryie beat him out sooner than later because Melvin isn’t very good. Keeping that possibility in mind, Oruwaryie might have his fair share of hiccups as a rookie due to the learning curve. If he develops properly however, I believe he can be a very good starter for a long time.
Struck Out With: Will Harris, Safety, Round 3, Pick 81
This wasn’t a poor selection in terms of where the Lions picked Will Harris. This is actually about where I valued him. He just isn’t doesn’t offer the skill set to compliment what they already have.
The Lions’ safety rotation lacks a guy who can turn the ball over and Harris does anything but that. He is a good run defender and has the traits to be effective in man coverage, but he did not illustrate the coverage instincts that led to takeaways on his college film. If anything, he made his fair share of mistakes.
Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson or Iowa’s Amani Hooker would have made much more sense for the Lions in my opinion. These two prospects can wear many different hats in terms coverage responsibility and they have shown that they can take the ball away. Fortunately for the Bears, Detroit selected less of an impact player with Harris.
Rookie Playing Time Predictions
- T.J. Hockenson (TE): Day 1 impact starter
- Jahlani Tavai (LB): Most likely a day 1 starter
- Will Harris (S): 3rd or 4th safety in the rotation/special teams
- Austin Bryant (DE): Rotational player
- Amani Oruwariye (CB) Should compete for a starting job/special teams
T.J. Hockenson and Amani Oruwariye were great additions to a roster that needed difference makers. However, the draft is won in the mid rounds, and besides the Oruwariye selection, I thought the Lions left a lot to be desired with their other picks.
It felt like they were drafting cogs to emulate the Patriots’ system, and we haven’t seen a Belichick disciple have success with this approach. So do I think that they got better? Yes. How much better? Not much, and they had every opportunity to do so.
With all of that being said, the Lions are still the little brother of the NFC North.