There’s always that one prospect.
Every fan has that one prospect he or she hopes to see donning their favorite team’s colors in the upcoming season. Whether it be a prized quarterback, unstoppable running back or relentless defensive lineman, there’s always one.
With the NFL Draft season upon us and the scouting combine wrapping up, fans have been treated to some of their favorite prospects working out and showing off their respective skills.
The Detroit Lions have the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, meaning they will essentially get their pick of the litter. The team will also pick a handful of times throughout the three-day event.
As the draft draws near, here are my 10 draft crushes that I would like to see in a Lions uniform next season.
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
As someone who follows Michigan football closely, I saw the breakout season Hutchinson had as the Wolverines won the Big Ten title and made an appearance in the College Football Playoff. Though the end result was underwhelming by the team’s standards, Hutchinson dominated in his final year with the Maize and Blue.
Widely considered to be one of the top prospects in the draft, Hutchinson enjoyed a very successful combine. Though his arm length is shorter than what is ideally expected at his position, Hutchinson dominated agility drills, and ran a 4.74 40-yard dash.
He’s got extreme athleticism and great talent, making him an attractive choice at No. 2 overalls. The Lions would be wise to bring in the Dearborn native, as they look to build a winning team.
Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Before I break this down, I would like to acknowledge the fact that Detroit can only have one of the top two EDGE prospects. The reason both are on here is that you can’t go wrong with either.
Thibodeaux was the top prospect in the 2019 high school recruiting class, according to several top recruiting experts. Because of this, there may be some fatigue when it comes to his status as a top draft prospect. Yet, the numbers still don’t lie.
When healthy, he was unblockable at Oregon. He totaled 19 sacks in 30 total college games, including seven in 10 games in 2021. His blend of athleticism and size may be even better than Hutchinson’s, as he flies to the ball.
It really is a toss-up between the two EDGE prospects, and in my opinion, there is no bad choice.
Damone Clark, LB, LSU
Clark had a very good combine, running the 40 in 4.57 seconds. He measured up well in other drills, and his size is exactly where teams want it to be. As a prospect at LSU, he was a physical run stopper. This is exactly what Detroit needs.
The Lions took a linebacker in last year’s draft, scooping up Purdue’s Derrick Barnes in the fourth round. However, Barnes still has a ways to go when it comes to pass coverage, and Clark may be ahead of the curve in that department.
By taking another young linebacker, the Lions could work toward building a solid, young core at the position. For a team that wants to become known for its defense, this would be a very good start.
Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Originally, I believed the Lions could steal this small-school wide receiver late on Day 2 or early on Day 3 of the draft. After his combine performance, I think even this will be difficult.
Watson, who hails from FCS powerhouse North Dakota State, ran a blazing 4.36 40, and put together strong performances in both the vertical and broad jumps.
Detroit needs to add a wide receiver, and this 6-foot-4 powerhouse may be the answer. He had 43 catches for 801 yard in his final season with the Bison, and could easily end up as a prized wideout on a good team.
With his mix of size and speed, I believe Watson will become a very good NFL receiver as he develops. There are still some technical things he needs to improve upon when it comes to route running, but his combine performance showed that he is capable of being special.
Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
Another small-school receiver, Moore was always impressive during his time with the Broncos. He was often the go-to target of fellow draft prospect Kaleb Eleby, in a Western Michigan offense that was explosive but inconsistent.
Moore is blazing fast, and creates separation easily. He showed this speed with a 4.41 showing in the 40.
He’s 5-foot-10, so his size may not be ideal when it comes to the Lions already having a sub-6-foot receiver in Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Recommended Lions Articles
However, Lions head coach Dan Campbell’s creativity may be an asset here. After taking over the play-calling duties, Campbell found interesting and unique ways to get speedster Kalif Raymond the ball.
If the Lions do take Moore, expect Campbell to do more of the same with the WMU product.
Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Davis is another athletic freak who could instantly improve the Lions’ defense. At 341 pounds, all he did was run a 4.78 40-yard dash. He was outstanding in positional drills, and had excellent numbers in the broad and vertical jumps.
The Lions have said they’re going to transition more to a four-down defensive style, so that makes drafting another defensive tackle a possibility. Drafting Davis is certainly not out of the question.
He’s an interesting prospect when it comes to value, as he isn’t high enough on most boards to be taken 2. But, he certainly won’t fall to the Lions’ second first-round pick at No. 32 overall. This makes it interesting.
If Davis has a similar pro day and performs well in meeting rooms and interviews, there’s no doubt he could skyrocket up draft boards.
Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Ridder will forever be known in the college ranks for being the first quarterback to lead a group of five program to the College Football Playoff. There are some flaws in his game, such as his arm strength in tight windows. But, there’s a lot to like when it comes to his mobility.
An argument can be made that Ridder won the combine at his position from a testing standpoint, as he ran an impressive 4.52 40-yard dash and posted a 36-inch vertical jump.
The best quarterbacks in the NFL have that blend of throwing power and mobility. While I think Ridder isn’t on par with the best in either category, I believe his athleticism will allow him to stick around in the league.
It’s likely that at least three of the top four QB prospects will be off the board by No. 32. So, the Lions have three options — reach for one at No. 2, trade back into the middle of the first round or wait until No. 32.
In my opinion, it would be wise to take a flier on a quarterback in the middle rounds to try and strike gold. Ridder fits the middle-round billing, and I believe he’s capable of surprising some people.
James Cook, RB, Georgia
Cook is the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings star running back Dalvin Cook. Aside from being brothers, there are some big-time similarities. Top among them is their ability to make plays in the passing game, which I believe is an important skill for a running back.
The Lions already have two starting-caliber backs in D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, but could use a depth option. They drafted Jermar Jefferson last season, but he suited up in just seven of the team’s games.
I believe Cook could be a contributor within the team’s offense. His ability to burn linebackers in coverage could make him an asset in the passing game, which would get him on the field.
He’s currently projected as a mid-round pick, and he offers good value to that status.
Luke Goedeke, OG, Central Michigan
Goedeke is a player who I covered while he played in college at Central Michigan. One of the most impressive things about the Wisconsin native is his ability to finish blocks and dominate his opponents.
The Lions aren’t looking for offensive linemen high in the draft, which likely eliminates the team’s chance to take Goedeke’s college teammate Bernhard Raimann. But, they could use some depth at the position in the middle rounds.
With Halapoulivaati Vaitai a potential cap casualty, the Lions will need guard depth. Goedeke was a college tackle, but projects as a pro guard and could be a perfect fit. The Lions have some outside zone concepts, which was the scheme that Central Michigan ran.
Connor Heyward, TE/FB, Michigan State
Heyward looks like a player who Campbell will love. He’s athletic and big, with the ability to play multiple positions. The Lions already have a fullback in Jason Cabinda, but could use another tight end behind TJ Hockenson and Brock Wright.
Heyward’s a tough player who can adapt to any scheme, thanks to his ability to block. If the Lions go spread, he can slide to H-back. Should the team start in a pro-style set, he can simply line up on the line.
After starting his MSU career as a running back, Heyward moved to tight end in his final year, and enjoyed a productive season. He’s got value as a pro, even if it’s as a late round pick.