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2019 NFL Draft: Detroit Lions team needs, draft picks, prospects to watch

The Lions struggled in their first year under Matt Patricia, and while there’s talent to be found on the roster, there was too much injury and inconsistency to overcome. The Lions did manage to find a franchise running back in Kerryon Johnson and appear to be strong up the middle of the defense after adding Damon Harrison, but there are plenty of areas for concern as well.

Here’s what you need to know about the Detroit Lions and the 2019 NFL Draft.

2019 draft picks

  • Round 1: Detroit
  • Round 2: Detroit
  • Round 3: Philadelphia
  • Round 4: Detroit
  • Round 5: Detroit
  • Round 6: Detroit, New England
  • Round 7: Detroit, Pittsburgh*

The Lions traded their third-rounder during the previous draft in order to land a fourth-round pick and select Da’Shawn Hand, but they got one back by sending Golden Tate to the Eagles before the trade deadline. The Lions had an extra fifth-rounder from the 49ers in the Laken Tomlinson deal, but they traded the better of their two fifths to the Giants for Damon Harrison. They received the extra sixth from the Patriots for Johnson Bademosi. The seventh from Pittsburgh is conditional after they got it from Miami for Akeem Spence. The Dolphins got the pick from the Browns in the Jarvis Landry deal, while the Browns landed it from Pittsburgh in the Sammie Coates trade.

Biggest offseason needs

  • Defensive end
  • Cornerback
  • Wide receiver
  • Safety
  • Tight end
  • Guard

While Detroit is strong in the middle of their defensive line following the addition of Damon Harrison, they have a huge hole on the outside with Ziggy Ansah heading into free agency and little talent at the position otherwise. That makes finding an impact edge rush the top need for this team in 2019. They’ll also need an upgrade at cornerback across from the talented but expensive Darius Slay. Quandre Diggs is locked in at one safety spot after a big extension before the season, but the team can save over $6 million by moving on from Glover Quin, who turns 33 in January. 

The Lions have a pair of talented receivers in Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones but need a reliable slot man to replace Golden Tate and a tight end that can serve as a passing-game weapon, unless they feel a big leap coming from Michael Roberts. The Lions can save $9 million by cutting T.J. Lang, so it’s possible they’ll be in the market for a guard as well.

Trapasso’s prospects to watch

Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky

Allen has been all the more impressive this year after putting on some weight, and it’s now possible to envision him holding up as primarily a defensive end. But his best outlook is with a defensive schemer who will utilize his versatility, as he adds coverage ability to elite pass-rush potential. The Lions should be looking for this type of impact defender in Round 1.

Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame

Cornerback might not be a priority for the Lions at the top of the draft, but they should definitely look into adding talent at the position on Day 2. Love is likely going to slot into the second round as someone who excels in off-coverage and can make plays on the ball but isn’t that fast.

Anthony Johnson, WR, Buffalo

Johnson will have to impress during the predraft process to have a chance at cracking the first round, but he’s more likely ticketed for Day 2 as a guy with good all-around traits who is likely never going to be a No. 1 receiver. But that’s OK in Detroit, where they have Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay to top the depth chart. Johnson could fit in as a possession receiver who works over the middle after the Lions parted ways with Golden Tate.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida

Gardner-Johnson has experience as a slot cornerback, and if he lands on the Lions, they could use him in a number of ways to see his best fit at the pro level. He could wind up as a starting safety next to Quandre Diggs or as the team’s No. 3 corner long-term.

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