With the twenty-first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select…
21. Detroit Lions: Taco Charlton, DE | Michigan
Despite the loss of receiver Calvin Johnson to retirement at the end of the 2015 season, quarterback Matthew Stafford went out and balled last season leading the Lions to eight comeback wins over the course of the season. Sign of a good team or a lucky one? The Lions won those 8 games by 4 points or less and then finished the season with 3 straight losses before a first round playoff exit courtesy of the Seahawks. One issue the Lions had in 2017 was keeping their quarterback upright. Stafford has been sacked more than 36 times the past 3 seasons. The Lions went out and solidified the right side of that offensive line with guard TJ Lang and tackle Ricky Wagner which Stafford should be very happy about. The Lions can definitely use help on the defensive side of the ball and that’s probably where they’ll lean come April 27th, but it wouldn’t be a huge shock if they wanted to load up on offense instead. Detroit’s running game was basically non-existent, finishing 30th in the league last season at just over 80 yards a game. No Detroit back could stay healthy and the team had to rotate through who ever was available between Abdullah, Riddick, Zenner and Washington. While each runner had various amounts of success, none is a true feature back. Then at receiver you have basically two number 2’s lining up on the outside in Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, with only Tate able to eclipse 1000 yards this past season (just the second time in his 7 year career.) Would it be so crazy for the Lions to grab a Corey Davis or John Ross to really stretch the field in Motown? I’m not a big Eric Ebron fan and it’d be crazy to think they’d look at drafting another tight end in the first round just 3 years after grabbing Ebron, but Bob Quinn comes from the Patriots and their two tight end sets, so an OJ Howard or David Njoku selection would be interesting but justifiable.
Ultimately the offensive line additions should do wonder for both the Lions running and passing game so I have to believe they are looking defense with the 21st pick. In terms of defense the Lions finished middle of the pack in average passing and rushing yards allowed per game. Linebacker and secondary could use depth, but where Detroit finished near the bottom of the league was sacks. The Lions need someone opposite Ezekiel Ansah to help rush the passer, especially if the Lions hope to slow down and overcome Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the NFC North. Hometown kid Taco Charlton should be on the board when the Lions pick and would help shore up the defensive line while making the Lions one of the strongest teams in the trenches.