Projecting each Lions 2024 draft pick’s short-term and long-term roles

USA Today

The Detroit Lions came out of the 2024 NFL Draft with six very talented and intriguing players who will all be able to contribute this upcoming season.

But as general manager Brad Holmes has frequently pointed out, the draft is not just about the present; teams draft for future needs. While a player may not have a clear-cut role as a rookie, there’s always a purpose behind each draft choice.

So what can we expect from each of these draft picks both in 2024 and future seasons?

(Credit to our friend Kyle Madson from Niners Wire for this idea).

CB Terrion Arnold

Sep 23, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Terrion Arnold (3) carries the ball after an interception against the Mississippi Rebels during the second half of a football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Short-term: Second starting cornerback alongside veteran Carlton Davis.

Long-term: Detroit’s number-one outside cornerback.

CB Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

COLUMBIA, MO – SEPTEMBER 17: Defensive back Ennis Rakestraw Jr. #2 of the Missouri Tigers celebrates his interception against the Abilene Christian Wildcats in the third quarter at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on September 17, 2022 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Short-term: Backup outside cornerback who may also be a reserve for the nickel cornerback position. Could see some snaps in specific defensive sub-packages if a fifth or sixth defensive back is needed. Contributor on special teams.

Long-term: Starting outside cornerback alongside Arnold.

OL Giovanni Manu

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, left, leaves the main theater stage after announcing Giovanni Manu, an offensive tackle from British Columbia, after the Lions traded up for the 126th overall pick in Round 4 of the NFL draft Saturday, April 27, 2024 in Detroit.

Short-term: Lowest man on the depth chart at tackle and guard. Developmental prospect who needs time to acclimate to the NFL’s level of talent.

Long-term: If or when Taylor Decker leaves the Lions, one could see Manu taking over as starting right tackle. If not, key depth role at every spot on the line except center.

RB/S Sione Vaki

Nov 4, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes safety Sione Vaki (28) warms up before the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Short-term: Core special teamer in every phase. Very limited role on offense as a gadget running back. Brad Holmes alluded to Vaki returning kickoffs as well.

Long-term: Same as short term. Vaki will carve out a nice career as a special teams ace. Could shift back to defense if his role on offense doesn’t work out.

DL Mekhi Wingo

ORLANDO, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 03: Jordan Travis #13 of the Florida State Seminoles throws a pass while being hit by Mekhi Wingo #18 of the LSU Tigers in the second quarter at Camping World Stadium on September 03, 2023 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Short-term: Backup to players like John Cominsky and Josh Paschal who play the hybrid DE/DT role. Limited snaps on defense when starters are rotated out.

Long-term: Key rotational defensive lineman at 3/5T. Will see the field often as an interior pass rusher.

OL Christian Mahogany

Nov 3, 2023; Syracuse, New York, USA; Boston College Eagles quarterback Thomas Castellanos (1) gestures to fans after his touchdown run with teammate offensive lineman Christian Mahogany (73) against the Syracuse Orange during the second half at the JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Short-term: Backup guard behind Graham Glasgow and Kevin Zeitler.

Long-term: Starting right guard.

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