The Lions drafted eight players in the 2014 NFL draft. We had a chance to talk to NFL Network’s Charles Davis about the Lions’ draft, and here’s what he had to say:
What are your thoughts on the Lions draft?
I think that they got some quality players. I think Eric Ebron was too hard to turn down at ten, especially with Justin Gilbert taken off the board at eight, a player that they might have been targeting. I thought they might go safety there, as Clinton Dix and Pryor were still available, but it’s hard to turn Ebron down. He’s another weapon for the offense. He might have been their highest rated player available player at that time, so they went ahead and took him.
I really also like Kyle Van Noy. I think his versatility is terrific, whether he’s playing inside or outside linebacker. Van Noy has been anything but average, he’s been a heck of a player. He’s a very dependable player.
And center Travis Swanson makes a lot of sense with Dominic Raiola entering his 15th season, as you wonder how long he can go for. Swanson was one of the highest rated centers in this draft.
I also like Nevin Lawson, the corner. He may be a little too handsy at times, but I think that’s a college thing, as you’re used to having your hand on things, grabbing guys. I don’t know if that’s the home run they were looking for in that position, but it did address an area of need.
Defensive end Larry Webster is an intriguing deal. I think he’s a developmental guy, but he has a lot of athletic ability.
Defensive tackle Caraun Reid is one of my favorite picks. To get him in the 5th round as defensive tackle is great. You may say “another defensive tackle,” but we all know that Fairley did not get a contract extension, they’re gonna make him play for it, and we all know what’s going on with Ndamukong Suh. So Caraun Reid is a guy that can come in and develop quickly. I think defensive line coach Jim Washburn is gonna have a ball coaching that guy.
So I like the draft, I don’t think “loved it” would be quite the word, but I really liked it. Ebron was a circumstance that hit them and that you just don’t turn down. And I think that’s how good organizations are made.
What was the best value pick made by the Lions?
I think Caruan Reid is the best value pick in the 5th round. I don’t think there’s any question about it for me. Getting him the 5th round is a big deal for me, especially with Suh and Fairley’s contracts up after this upcoming season.
What NFC North team had the best draft?
I think Green Bay did a heck of a job in their draft. Being able to get a much needed safety and wide receiver is a big deal for them. But in a year like this, I don’t think there’s a lot of harsh grades to be given out. There are guys who didn’t get drafted who normally would have.
Do you think it’s unrealistic to say Eric Ebron has a shot to be rookie of the year?
Not unrealistic at all. Not with the way the Lions run their offense, and with the weapons around him that can open up things for him. They have Calvin, Tate, and Bush in the backfield. Brandon Pettigrew is your combo guy, but he can’t do what Ebron can do in the passing game. And right now, Joe Fauria is a one trick pony.
The Lions were reportedly interested in LB Anthony Barr, but instead he got drafted by division rival Minnesota Vikings. Will he be good at the next level, or is he a one trick pony?
I do, I am a big fan of his. Eager to see what [the Vikings] do with him. Some see him as a defensive end and others see him as a true outside linebacker. But he does have a lot of growth yet to make. He has a lot to learn still.
What was the biggest draft surprise to you?
I think Derek Carr falling to the second round, I really thought he was going to go in the first round. I’m surprised the Raiders were able to get him without trading up. Another surprise to me was the quarterbacks that fell to the later rounds, and how they’re still being talked out possibly pushing for starting jobs. In my humble opinion, how many quarterbacks are we talking about that were drafted late in the draft are ever factors in the league? Throw me some names beside Tom Brady? It’s really rare. So when the Titans drafted Zach Mettenberger in the 5th round and people say that he’s their quarterback, really? Because I’m betting no. That’s a career backup to me. And Russell Wilson went in the third round for one reason and one reason only, his height. He was given a first round grade on everything except his height.
Can Matthew Stafford ever take it to the next level?
I think we saw a glimpse of his true potential in 2011. I think it’s there, and I know that the Lions believe in him. I think that the new regime is good for him, it gives him a chance to hear different voices, and clean some things up in his play. I think that they have plenty of weapons around him. But all in all, I think they have enough talent to compete in their division, but I do think that their division will be really tough next year.