Day 2 NFL draft fits for Detroit Lions: Nakobe Dean, Malik Willis still on the board

Detroit Free Press

LAS VEGAS — The Detroit Lions made a bold move in the first round of Thursday’s NFL draft, trading three Day 2 picks to the Minnesota Vikings to get Alabama receiver Jameson Williams.

The Lions landed one of the top prospects in the draft in Williams — to pair with arguably the draft’s best player in No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson — but their work rebuilding their roster is not done.

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The Lions have two picks today — No. 46 in Round 2, acquired in the Williams trade, and No. 97 late in the third round — and three more Saturday, and holes still to fill across their roster.

Here are 18 players who could make sense for the Lions on Day 2:

Liberty QB Malik Willis

Many thought Willis would go in Round 1 as the highest-upside quarterback in the draft. He’s got an incredibly strong arm and is a legitimate threat with his feet, but is considered at least a year away from being an NFL starter.

North Carolina QB Sam Howell

No team traded back into the end of the first round for a quarterback, an indication of how this year’s class is viewed (the QBs weren’t compelling enough for teams to want the fifth-year option on their rookie contract). Howell played for Lions coaches at the Senior Bowl and was once considered a first-round pick.

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Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder

Ridder is one of the sharpest quarterbacks in the draft. He comes with a world of experience as a four-year starter who led the Bearcats to the college football playoffs, but there are questions about his deep ball accuracy.

Ole Miss QB Matt Corral

Corral was projected by many to go in Round 1 after racking up nearly 4,000 yards from scrimmage in 2021. He played in a one-read system, so he’ll need some seasoning. But he’s a fiery leader at the position.

Georgia LB Nakobe Dean

Dean slipped out of Round 1 because his athletic traits don’t match up with some of the other players in the draft, but he has excellent football instincts and the playmaking skills to be a stalwart in the middle of the Lions defense for years to come if he makes it to 46.

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Alabama LB Christian Harris

The Lions missed on a run of linebackers in the second half of Round 1, but Harris could fill a major positional need in Round 2. A three-year starter, he had 27 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in his Alabama career.

Oklahoma LB Brian Asamoah

One of a handful of linebackers who took a pre-draft visit to Detroit, Asamoah could be in play if the Lions wait to address their linebacker need until Round 3. He’s undersized at 6 feet, but flies around the field in pass coverage.

Clemson CB Andrew Booth

Had five interceptions the past two seasons and earned All-ACC honors before leaving school as a junior. He’s a big cornerback at a shade over 6 feet, and he played in a multiple defense at Clemson that should help his transition to the NFL.

Texas-San Antonio CB Tariq Woolen

A converted receiver, Woolen is one of the most intriguing cornerback prospects in the draft. He’s extremely raw, but he blazed a 4.26-second 40-yard dash at the combine and has trusty hands at 6 feet 4 and 205 pounds. He should come off the board in Round 3.

Penn State S Jaquan Brisker

The Nittany Lions deployed Brisker all over their back seven. He had two interceptions last season while playing slot cornerback, deep safety and some linebacker.

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Maryland S Nick Cross

Cross ran the fastest 40 time of all safeties at the combine (4.34 seconds). Pick No. 46 might be too rich for him, but he should come off the board in Round 3.

Baylor S JT Woods

If the Lions wait till Round 3 to address their secondary, Woods could be the play at safety. He’s a ballhawk who tied for the NCAA lead with six interceptions last season.

Houston DL Logan Hall

The Lions spent two Day 2 picks on interior defensive line last spring but need more pass rush from the group. At 6 feet 6 and 283 pounds, Hall can be a strong-side defensive end or slide inside to tackle.

UConn DT Travis Jones

Some scouts view Jones as a nose tackle, which might be a non-starter for a Lions team that spent a third-round pick on Alim McNeill last year. But Jones had 4.5 sacks last season and shined at the Senior Bowl.

Florida DT Zach Carter

Carter might have to wait till Day 3 to hear his name called, but the converted defensive end is one of the top interior rushers in the class.

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Kentucky OL Darian Kinnard

The Lions have hit on third-round lineman like Jonah Jackson and Larry Warford in recent years. Kinnard played tackle at Kentucky, but projects best as a guard in the NFL. Played for the Lions at the Senior Bowl.

Central Michigan OT Bernhard Raimann

Raimann came to Michigan as an exchange student from Austria to pursue a football career. He needs more polish, but could be a starting left tackle in time.

Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III

The Lions are in good shape at the running back position, but Walker could be enticing if he’s on the board at 46. He ran for 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns for the Spartans last season.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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