The 10 most likely Lions first-round draft targets at No. 29 overall

USA Today

We’re 10 days out from the 2024 NFL draft in Detroit!

In honor of the 10-day period, and all the associative anxiety and excitement for the major event happening on the Lions’ front lawn, here are the 10 players that are the most likely selections by Detroit with the first-round pick at No. 29 overall.

Picking at 29 means there are 28 variables ahead of the Lions, of course. With variables being, well, variable, ascertaining which players will be available for Lions GM Brad Holmes to choose from is quite the exercise in guesswork. There is a pretty solid consensus about 15 or so players who definitely will not drop to 29, and those players are eliminated. I also ruled out quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends and off-ball linebackers.

Of the likely available player pool at No. 29, these are the most likely to become Lions.

Darius Robinson, EDGE, Missouri

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A Detroit native, Robinson gets the nod as the current clubhouse leader to be the No. 29 pick. Capable of playing inside or outside as a power-to-speed pass rusher, Robinson brings a lot of strength and finishing ability in the same role John Cominsky and Josh Paschal have played for the Lions in the last two years.

Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

McKinstry played at Alabama, where Holmes is notably drawn during draft time (Jameson Williams, Jahmyr Gibbs). He’s got length, a high football IQ and playmaking panache on the outside, though he will give up some plays too. His teammate Terrion Arnold is a better fit but figures to be long gone.

Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

Texas Longhorns wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) makes a touchdown catch over Washington cornerback Elijah Jackson

Mitchell offers a lot of potential as a bigger (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) outside receiver with a big-play résumé. He hauled in 11 touchdowns among his 55 catches in his one year at Texas. The overall production is skinny; Mitchell caught under 100 passes in three seasons spread across Georgia and Texas and topped 100 yards just twice, but he’s got greater potential than that in the NFL.

Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

Cooper DeJean Syndication: USA TODAY

DeJean proved at his recent pro day that he’s fully recovered from an injury that kept him out of the NFL Scouting Combine and other postseason events. An exceptional athlete with length and ball skills in man coverage on the outside, DeJean also offers potential to play some free safety. His availability to last to No. 29 is a valid question mark.

Jordan Morgan, OL, Arizona

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Morgan was a very impressive left tackle for the Wildcats in 2023, proving he’s nicely overcome a torn ACL that prematurely ended his 2022 season. Many pundits believe Morgan projects better inside at guard because of his shorter arms and power-based run blocking. The Lions desperately need depth at both tackle and guard, and that’s a role Morgan could fill right away.

Jackson Powers-Johnson, IOL, Oregon

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The nation’s best center in 2023 was the PAC-12’s best offensive lineman in 2022 while playing guard. The size, movement skills and “grit” are all there to make “JPJ” a perfect fit for the Lions.

Mike Sainristil, CB, Michigan

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This is probably earlier than you’re used to seeing Sainristil projected. The converted wideout is a work in progress on defense, but the progress he’s shown has been outstanding. An elite athlete with great ball skills, Sainristil is shorter than ideal at just 5-foot-8. Other than his height, or lack thereof, Sainristil emphatically checks every box the Lions have shown they want in a defensive player.

Marshawn Kneeland, EDGE, Western Michigan

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Kneeland is an optimal size and athleticism fit for what the Lions have looked for at EDGE. At 6-foot-3 and a long-armed 267 pounds, he has experience rushing the passer from both in-line and stand-up alignments. His production suffered as he played through a foot injury in 2023, but Kneeland has proven he can finish behind the line of scrimmage.

Graham Barton, IOL, Duke

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It seems very unlikely that Barton falls to the Lions at No. 29, but it cannot be ruled out. A left tackle for most of his Blue Devils career, Barton projects primarily as a center. I actually think his best NFL position will be left guard. A guy with high-end positional versatility and long-term upside as a Pro Bowl-caliber starter on the offensive line, where the Lions have poor depth and potentially three new starters coming in 2025, makes a whole lot of sense. If Barton is there…

Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Probably the least likely of the candidates here to wind up being the Lions pick, Lassiter is typically projected in the 40-60 overall range. If we’ve learned anything about Holmes in his three drafts it’s that he cares not for projected ranges for players.

Lassiter is a very good schematic fit and has proven big-game coverage experience, though his long speed isn’t ideal.

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