Here are a dozen options for Lions at the end of the first round

Detroit News

Allen Park — Leading up to Thursday’s first round of the NFL Draft, most of the talk regarding the Detroit Lions has been centered around the No. 2 selection. And for good reason, given the star power that prospect typically offers.

So it’s been easy to forget about Detroit’s second pick, the final one of the draft’s opening night, No. 32. It’s a part of the return package from last year’s Matthew Stafford trade and offers another opportunity to secure a starter and franchise building block for second-year general manager Brad Holmes and coach Dan Campbell.

Working off the continued assumption the Lions will grab one of the top edge rushers at No. 2, here are a dozen possibilities for the team at the end of Round 1.

► Lewis Cine, S, Georgia

A do-everything safety with the range to cover the deep portions of the field paired with eagerness to come forward and deliver a big hit, Cine has the skill set, intelligence and attitude to be a long-term piece in Detroit’s secondary. The biggest flaw with his game is the lack of turnover production (two interceptions and zero forced fumbles in three seasons), which could be frustrating when paired with Tracy Walker, who is similarly versatile, but lacking playmaking on the resume.

NFL Draft 2022: Your guide to Detroit Lions draft coverage

More: Justin Rogers’ 2022 NFL mock draft 3.0

► Naboke Dean, LB, Georgia

Last year’s Butkus Award winner as the nation’s best linebacker, Dean’s tape is impressive. But questions about his size (5-foot-11, 229 pounds) and non-participation in the pre-draft process due to injury are seemingly anchoring his draft stock. His instincts, intensity, leadership and durability (started all 25 games the past two years) are enough to overlook his frame at this stage of the first round.

► Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State

Teams can obviously only put so much stock in the combine, but Watson undoubtedly turned heads with one of the best showings by a receiver since Calvin Johnson. The 6-foot-4, 208-pounder posted elite measurables across the board, including a 4.38-second 40-yard dash and 38.5-inch vertical. Any team drafting Watson must understand he’s in need of development, coming from a run-heavy college scheme. The plus side with that is he brings some added versatility as a ball carrier and he’s a proven blocker on the perimeter.

► Dax Hill, S, Michigan

The versatile Hill has the makings of a true matchup piece in the NFL. The coverage skills he developed frequently manning the slot for the Wolverines undoubtedly provide added value for the team who selects him. And although he didn’t often play deep in 2021, he showcased elite speed and short-area quickness at the combine that proves he’s more than capable of handling those assignments.

► Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

The Lions have not projected serious interest in adding a quarterback this draft, but if Ridder makes it to the end of the round, it merits strong consideration. He possesses good size to go with a dual-threat skill set. His steady improvement while at Cincinnati points to a higher ceiling, particularly if he can iron out some mechanical issues with his throwing motion that leads to less-than-ideal ball placement.

More: Lions 2022 draft preview: Detroit faces QB question, but there are no elite options here

► George Pickens, WR, Georgia

Fully recovered from an ACL tear suffered last March, Pickens has the size, speed and ball skills that should successfully translate to the “X” position. On top of that, Pickens is an eager and effective blocker, an underrated skill set that will undoubtedly resonate with Detroit’s coaching staff. One thing that could push him further down the board is concerns about his character and maturity.

► Travis Jones, DT, UConn

Yes, the Lions drafted two defensive tackles last year, but there’s still room to improve the talent and depth at the position, both short- and long-term. The physically imposing Jones, who measuring in at 6-foot-4, 327 pounds, looks like a classic 3-4 nose tackle but is athletic enough to play in any front. He’s going to be a better run defender out of the box, but like last year’s third-round pick Alim McNeill, there’s some pass-rush ability there, as well. Jones tallied 4.0 sacks and 25 quarterback pressures on 313 pass-rush snaps last season.

► Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State

Less experienced patrolling deep, Brisker might not be a clear schematic fit for the Lions’ split-safety scheme. But his tone-setting physicality in run support would appeal to any defensive coordinator. Additionally, the Lions already have shown a willingness to bend the defensive system to their talent.

► Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Primarily used as a supersized slot receiver for the Razorbacks, Burks’ ability to be effective as an outside option is a projection. What’s clear about his skill set is he’s lethal with the ball in his hands, with better play speed than his disappointing 40 times at the combine and his pro day would suggest, and a propensity for breaking tackles. With some patient development and a smart coordinator capable of putting him in the right situations to maximize his skill set, Burks can be productive while rounding out his skill set.

More: Lions 2022 draft preview: Receiver could catch Detroit’s eye in early rounds

► Quay Walker, LB, Georgia

While Dean has been hindered by the pre-draft runup, Walker’s stock is on the rise. Teams already knew he offered rare length at the position with a 6-foot-4 frame, but he exceeded athleticism expectations with elite 40-yard dash and 3-cone times. A good run defender for Georgia, he also clearly has all the tools to develop into a quality coverage option, as well.

► Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

At 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Dotson doesn’t have the size the other receivers on this list offer, but the Penn State standout wins with excellent route running and reliable hands, even in contested-catch situations. Additionally, his resume includes some impressive production as a punt returner, where he averaged 13.5 yards on 25 attempts.

► Trade down

As noted, the Lions haven’t shown desperation for a quarterback, which could offer them a prime opportunity to trade down with a team such as Indianapolis or Atlanta, who should both be in the market for a long-term solution at the position if they don’t address it earlier in the draft. Both those franchises are scheduled to select in the first half of the second round and could pair that choice with a future second to convince Detroit to part with No. 32.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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