Detroit Lions go all-in on building a mean defense in Daniel Jeremiah’s new mock

SideLion Report

In Daniel Jeremiah’s new mock draft, the Detroit Lions continue to build a mean-looking defense.

It’s post first wave of free agency mock draft time, with ESPN’s Mel Kiper doing his that came out Tuesday morning. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah joined the fray, with his Mock Draft 3.0.

The Detroit Lions have had a notable run in the first week-plus of free agency. They’ve addressed a poor pass defense from last season (Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley, C.J. Gardner-Johnson), upgraded the top of their running back depth chart (David Montgomery) and re-signed some key defensive pieces (John Cominsky, Alex Anzalone, etc.).

The Lions draft needs have certainly shifted in terms of immediate priority based on that first wave of free agency. But looking beyond next season, nothing should really be off the table with early picks in the draft.

The Lions can go a lot of ways with their two first-rounders (No. 6 and No. 18), and be right in the direction they go.

Daniel Jeremiah has Detroit Lions continuing to build a fearsome defense in new mock

With the sixth overall pick, Jeremiah has the Lions taking Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon.

Witherspoon doesn’t have ideal size (5-foot-11 1/2, 181 pounds), but his game is very similar to that of Denzel Ward, who, like Witherspoon, played his college football in the Big Ten. Detroit has some difference-makers on the defensive front and has made some nice additions to the secondary this offseason, but Witherspoon’s instincts and ball skills would fit beautifully in the back end.

Cornerback is no longer an absolute urgent need for the Lions in terms of next season. But the only cornerbacks currently under contract beyond 2023 are Sutton and Chase Lucas, with Jeff Okudah possibly around on his fifth year option. Moseley could parlay his one-year deal into more, but that’s not certain right now. Witherspoon plays with an edge Dan Campbell would love, and he could be a clear-cut starter in 2024.

At No. 18, Jeremiah has Detroit taking Pittsburgh defensive tackle Calijah Kancey.

Lions GM Brad Holmes spent a lot of time around Aaron Donald during his previous stop as the Rams’ director of college scouting. Kancey isn’t on Donald’s level — nobody is — but his explosive quickness would beautifully complement Detroit’s young edge rushers to give the Lions a fearsome pass-rush group.

As Jeremy Reisman of Pride of Detroit pointed out, Kancey (6-foot, 275 pounds) simply can’t be talked about without mentioning fellow Pitt alum/smallish defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the comparison is not fair. But the Lions have a need at defensive tackle, and for more pass rush in the middle. Kancey can certainly bring that (14.5 sacks over the his last two seasons at Pitt).

The Lions had one of the league’s best offenses last season. So far this offseason the focus has been on the defense, and Jeremiah’s fresh mock has them continuing to build what could turn into a pretty fearsome unit on that side of the ball.

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