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DraftNerds: 2024 Detroit Lions Mock Draft

The Lions were a half of football away from representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Draft comes to Detroit in April - how can the Lions use their picks to improve most and appease their loyal fanbase?

Dynasty fantasy football is a year-round affair. A sharp manager will be thinking about all aspects of the dynasty season. Those managers keen enough to look ahead will be the ones who can grab themselves an edge over the competition. Industry professionals and content creators will spend most of the dynasty off-season discussing incoming rookies and the related topic, the NFL draft.

We easily fall in love with the next workhorse running back or prototypical alpha wide receiver. But a manager in tune with the entire draft class will find themselves ahead of the game. Whether it is the next road-paving interior offensive lineman or genetic freak edge rusher, we can find ourselves at quite the advantage come April by building an entire picture of how the 2023 class will play out. Those who prepare ahead will not be often surprised at the outcomes.

Credit for the mock draft simulation goes to the Pro Football Network. Team needs are also generated from this site. Compensatory picks have not been assigned or included in this exercise.

2023 Recap

Unless you live under a rock, you know about the Detroit Lions and their 2023 success. The team made the playoffs, won the NFC North, and was on the precipice of winning the NFC Championship. They went 12-5, then defeated the Rams and Buccaneers before falling to the 49ers.

The offense was a top-five unit with a strong passing and rushing attack. Jared Goff, Jahmyr Gibbs, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Sam LaPorta are studs in a young nucleus of talent that could be a problem for defenses for a long time. The defense keeps getting better but the secondary was exposed in games the Lions struggled.

The team addressed the trenches in free agency, signing a few offensive guards and DJ Reader to plug the middle on defense. They traded for Carlton Davis to help in the secondary and signed Marcus Davenport on a friendly deal to help the pass-rushing rotation.

Mock Draft

1.29 Byron Murphy II, DL Texas

Even though they brought in Reader, the pick of Murphy here is a luxury, and the Lions have the ability to take the best player available. Murphy will find his way into the starting lineup quickly. He’s an interior disrupter with loads of power and good balance. He’s got sudden, ferocious hands,, and his footwork is impeccable.

Murphy is a bit smaller than most interior defensive linemen, but lining up next to DJ Reader will negate that some. Murphy had trouble with double teams, but he isn’t going to see many on the Motor City line. He’s got tremendous upside to be a valuable NFL player. But his IDP value is really capped.

2.61 Darius Robinson, EDGE Missouri

Let’s give the Lions another pass-rushing tool; Robinson is a beastly prospect who will need some time to develop. If he does, lining up on the same line as Aidan Hutchinson is going to give offensive linemen nightmares.

Robinson has great length and immense power in his upper half. He dispenses blockers with violent hands, and his change of direction is a tiny bit unfair at his size. But his pass rushing is predictable, and Robinson needs to vary his moves and string together counters to be successful. He plays with frenetic chaos that needs to be reigned in. If the Lions can develop his repertoire and control that chaos, Robinson is going to be a damn good EDGE rusher.

3.73 Kris Abrams-Draine, CB Missouri

Back to Missouri, and the Lions get a solid corner prospect who can make an impact immediately in nickel, dime, or special teams. Abrams-Draine is fun to watch in coverage; he’s a former receiver who tracks and then attacks the ball like one. His instincts are on point, but he will need to learn more about the nuances of coverage. He’s not the biggest or toughest cornerback, but Abrams-Draine will be a valuable player for the Lions’ secondary.

5.164 Javion Cohen, OG Miami

Cohen is simply a nice depth piece for the offensive line. His 2022 tape at Alabama showed a quicker, more athletic guard. In 2023, he looked slower, and his feet appeared to be in quicksand. Cohen has the talent to stay in the league for a while, but he’s also got questions that could have him out of the league within three seasons.

6.201 Sione Vaki, S Utah

Vaki was a fun player to watch at Utah and flashed the potential to be special. He’s a blue-collar player with speed and good burst. He’s tough as heck and has the athleticism to cover tight ends and some backs in man coverage. Vaki loves to get physical. But he’s kind of stuck when it comes to projecting to the NFL. His man coverage isn’t a strong suit, and he’s good in run support, but his instincts aren’t the sharpest in that area. Vaki could develop, but it is most likely a depth safety.

He can also fill in at running back, as he was Utah’s leading rusher for a while in 2023.

6.206 Cournelius Johnson, WR Michigan

After losing Josh Reynolds in free agency, I suspect the Lions take a shot at a receiver at some point but I didn’t love the options at each pick thus far.

Johnson tested well at the Combine and was a three-year starter just down the road in Ann Arbor. He’s a strong receiver who bullies defensive backs at the catch point. He’s not going to be a guy to rely on in fantasy, but he can give the Lions another element to their passing game. Johnson will need to work on his route tree and technique, but the Lions don’t need him to do a lot right away.

7.249 Dillon Johnson, RB Washington

Another Johnson, this time Dillon, has absolutely no business making it to the seventh round in the NFL draft, and the Lions should snap him up if he does. They’ve got David Montgomery to complement Gibbs for now. But Monty will be 28 entering 2025, and the Lions could move on from him with a small dead cap hit. And then enter Johnson.

He’s the perfect type of runner to fill the role; Johnson has good vision, lets blocks develop with patience, and then he’s got the power and contact balance to gain tough yards. He can handle those “dirty work” carries and is a great pass-catcher as well. Johnson isn’t going to break massive runs, he doesn’t have long speed, but he’s exactly the type of back to use alongside Gibbs.

Fantasy Impact

Honestly, this draft has very little impact for fantasy. But every move helps the Lions become a better team. Robinson could develop into a solid EDGE for IDP, but it may take a few years. He’s a strong IDP asset but I don’t see Murphy really being an IDP asset.

I’d advocate taking Johnson in the fourth round of rookie drafts. If you don’t see him garnering some work in 2025, cut bait and move on.

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