The Detroit Lions are getting set to attack the NFL Draft evaluation period, and as a result, there will be countless names that start to swirl in the weeks ahead in terms of prospects that are ideal for the team to pick up at various spots. But what player should the Lions grab at all costs? Bleacher Report recently provided a quick answer.
Recently, writer Brent Sobleski went into the lab and figured out the top player every NFL team should try to get their hands on. Naturally, when it came to Detroit, a defensive lineman was on the menu, but probably not one that many folks would expect. Jeffery Simmons, defensive tackle from Mississippi State, was named the player the Lions should target. Here’s a look at what Sobleski wrote on the matter:
The Detroit Lions can complete their defensive front by sitting tight with the eighth overall pick and selecting a defensive tackle. The front office will likely be in a position to choose from multiple appealing options.
Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons makes the most sense.
First, he’s been a wrecking ball the last two seasons, making All-SEC both years. Simmons registered 29 tackles for loss during that span. His rock-solid 6’4″, 310-pound frame is exactly what every team wants in an interior defender.
Second, he’s disruptive enough to play 3-technique alongside Damon Harrison while Da’Shawn Hand handles 5-technique. Once head coach Matt Patricia utilizes his sub-packages, Simmons can slide over center with Hand at 3-technique.
Simmons won’t be on some draft boards, though. Mississippi State allowed Simmons to enroll after a videotape surfaced of him hitting a woman multiple times. How teams reconcile his past will determine his status.
“Jeffery has checked all the boxes,” athletic director John Cohen said of Simmons’ time as part of the Bulldogs program, per Mississippi Today’s Rick Cleveland. “He really has been the model for what you want in a student-athlete.”
Simmons, as noted, has been under fire after the video surfaced and it will be interesting to see what that does to his draft stock. In Detroit, though, he could find a decent fit with another Bulldog in Darius Slay.
The Lions have plenty of holes on their team to address this draft period, and it just so happens a few of their biggest are spots where top end talents could be had. The defensive line and defensive backfield have several stud players who figure to be around early in the draft, and those are two spots where the Lions could figure to need instant upgrades. Detroit also has needs at tight end, perhaps at wideout and also depth spots on the offense and defense. They also have nine draft picks with which to work. Balancing where to take skill position player is a huge question.
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Combined with a young linebacking group, there is a hope that the Lions could turn into one of the NFL’s more elite groups on defense if they are able to continue the arrow trending upward. Certainly, as these cases show, there is reason for hope that could soon be the case, as they’ve already got a nice place to start with some solid and budding talents on the field. Getting a high draft pick into the mix will help this turnaround further.
Interestingly enough, many early mocks have had the Lions looking elsewhere than along the defensive front or even at linebacker. Cornerback has also been alluded to as one of the team’s bigger draft needs coming up. Detroit’s next draft, whatever pick they might land, is going to have to be heavy along the defensive front. The Lions need some depth there and more playmakers, and that’s without even figuring in the fact that they could lose Ezekiel Ansah and could also lose Ricky Jean Francois, who are on one year deals.
Obviously, the Lions have some major building to do along their defensive line in the coming seasons in the draft and free agency, and one could expect them to target those spots most in the coming year when it comes to upgrades. But even without those future players and their arrivals, the Lions have been pretty good already, especially against running quarterbacks, which should be downright scary for the opposition. As the Lions have figured out how to stop the run consistently, the whole group has gotten better.
Adding more help there would be huge, but it would be interesting to see if the Lions would pick up Simmons considering his checkered past.