By: Will Burchfield
There’s no dwelling on the past in the NFL. That certainly applies to the Lions, who have already turned the page on the 2016 season.
“The season did not end the way we wanted it to, obviously, and it’s my job to build this roster for the 2017 Lions,” said general manager Bob Quinn on Thursday. “That process is off the ground and running. Looking forward to all the events that are upcoming in the next few months to build this team.”
The biggest of those events is the NFL Draft, scheduled for April 27 in Philadelphia.
“Ideally – I think I said this a year ago – I believe in building the team through the draft and then you supplement through free agency,” Quinn said.
Quinn declined to identify the Lions’ biggest positional need – “I have a few ideas of what the top ones are, but I think I’ll keep those to myself,” he said – but suffice to say the team needs help just about everywhere.
In that light, here are five draft targets for the Lions, who have the 21st overall pick.
1. Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
The Lions struggled to defend the pass all season, allowing a league-worst 106.5 rating to opposing quarterbacks. Wilson, an athletic 6’1 corner, could help remedy these woes. He had 33 tackles (3.5 for loss), six pass breakups and three interceptions in his junior season with the Gators and could team up with Darius Slay to give the Lions two dynamic playmakers in the secondary (three if you count Glover Quin).
2. Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Assuming Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster is off the board when the Lions’ pick rolls around, Cunningham figures to be the best player available at that position. And it’s certainly a position where the Lions need help, especially if DeAndre Levy fail to recovers his 2014 form. Cunningham, who racked up 125 tackles for Vandy this season, has terrific range and would add some much-needed athleticism to the Lions’ front seven.
3. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Bob Quinn selected three offensive linemen in his first draft and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him double down this year. The Lions are rebuilding that unit, starting with left tackle Taylor Decker, and Robinson would be a great complement on the other side (where Riley Reiff could depart via free agency.) Robinson gained valuable experience as a three-year starter at Alabama and was named the nation’s top blocker in his final season.
4. Soloman Thomas, DL, Stanford
It’d be a surprise to see Thomas available at No. 21, but the Lions would be smart to grab him if he is. The powerful and polished defensive lineman racked up 61 tackles (14 for loss) and 8.5 sacks for Stanford this season, capped off by a dynamite performance in the team’s Sun Bowl victory over UNC. Along with A’Shaun Robinson and Haloti Ngata, he’d give the Lions a fearsome trio of interior defenders.
5. John Ross, WR, Washington
A bit of a wild card here, but the Lions could use a legitimate lid-lifter in their receiving corps and Ross can stretch the field with the best of them. The junior hauled in 81 catches for over 1,100 yards this season, including a whopping 17 touchdowns. He’d help detract attention from Marvin Jones and would give Stafford another weapon in the versatile Jim Bob Cooter offense.