For those who immediately turned to social media to vent after the draft, it’s important to keep in mind not every pick can be a sexy name, and even though the Lions war room on draft day didn’t agree with your draft opinion, there’s still hope on the horizon.
Round 1, Pick 10: Eric Ebron, Tight End, North Carolina
Joe Lombardi comes into the Lions from New Orleans as offensive coordinator, and if you’ve watched a Saints game, then you know the importance of tight end Jimmy Graham down in The Big Easy.
At the combine, Ebron ran the 40 yard dash in 4.6 seconds. For comparison purposes this is faster than wide receivers Kelvin Bejamin (FSU) and Jarvis Landry (LSU), among many more. This 6’4” 250 pound player managed to pull down 62 catches for 973 yards last season.
Touted by scouts as a nightmare mismatch for those trying to cover him, Ebron will be an immediate impact as a vertical threat all though there is much to be desired when it comes to his blocking abilities.
Round 2, Pick 40: Kyle Van Noy, Outside Linebacker, Brigham Young University
Van Noy comes in with solid size and decent speed. Van Noy tallied 61 tackles for loss, 26 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and 7 interceptions in his career at BYU.
Known for his pass rushing skills, he should team up well as an edge rush linebacker with Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ziggy Ansah in front of him.
Round 3, Pick 76: Travis Swanson, Center, Arkansas
Draft experts have one recurring negative comment on Swanson: his strength. Coming in as the future successor to 35-year-old Dominic Raiola, this gives Swanson a full season to gain experience under that expert tutelage, as well as add bulk in the weight room.
Round 4, Pick 133: Nevin Lawson, Cornerback, Utah State
Lawson has the speed and the agility to blanket receivers, but whether or not he can develop the awareness and ability to hang in the NFL remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, at 5-foot-9 inches he’s not coming down with many jump balls. He joins a young pool of Lions corners: four other Detroit corners are in their first three years in the league.
Round 6, Pick 189: T.J. Jones, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
Jones doesn’t have blazing speed like fellow prospect Sammy Watkins, but he possesses stout hands and runs crisp routes. In his senior year, he tallied 70 catches for 1100 yards and nine touchdowns. For the record, those stats put him within 100 yards of first round draft choices Odell Beckham Jr. and Kelvin Benjamin.
The Lions may not have taken that can’t-miss prospect or a collegiate fan-favorite, but for the time being, this class has the potential to be very solid.
In a Lions press conference, new head coach Jim Caldwell said Ebron is “going to force teams to make a choice on how they cover Calvin (Johnson).” Clearly, quarterback Matthew Stafford can’t complain about the addition of another weapon, especially an explosive, potential defensive nightmare in Ebron. If he does turn into the next Graham, Lions fans will have a hard time arguing against the pick.