I looked at the performances of some offensive players at the NFL Scouting Combine that the Detroit Lions might consider. That is to say, running backs and wide receivers the Lions could draft late. Now, I shall turn my attention to the defense. As opposed to the offensive side of the ball, the Lions could have a lot of needs on defense, and I would suggest they spend their early round picks solely on defensive players. Their first pick should certainly be spent on a defensive player, either a cornerback or a defensive end. However, there is also the potential for the Lions to need a safety or a linebacker. So, with that in mind, here are some performances from the NFL Scouting Combine that stick out to me.
There is only one cornerback worth considering with the fifth overall pick, and that is Dee Milliner. His ability to work out was limited due to a shoulder that needs surgery, but he could still do some of the drills, including running a 4.37 40-yard dash. That was the second best time of any cornerback. He has speed, and his performance in college was excellent. I still feel that the fifth overall pick may be a minor reach for him. He doesn't really feel like a shutdown cornerback. However, I would not really have any qualms with the Lions do end up taking Milliner, especially with the shifting stocks of defensive ends for this Draft.
Xavier Rhodes from Florida State topped the charts in both the vertical jump and the broad jump. He could, potentially, sneak into the late first round. If he doesn't, and if he's there for the Lions' second round pick, he'd be a nice get. The same goes for Washington's Desmond Trufant, who finished high in both the 40-yard dash and the bench press. Then, there's Robert Alford. He finished near the top of the charters in pretty much every event. He may have had the best overall Combine for a cornerback. However, he played his football at Southeastern Louisiana. He's not worth an early pick, but he's a name to keep in mind for later.
The best safety at the Combine was Shamarko Thomas from Syracuse. He could be a good mid-round pick. The same goes for Earl Wolff from NC State. However, if the Lions are going to take a player in the second round at safety, in terms of players that had a good Combine performance, the choice would be LSU's Eric Reid.
In terms of the defensive line, there are probably only a few players worth taking fifth overall, now that there are concerns about Damontre Moore and Jarvis Jones (who may be more of a 3-4 outside linebacker anyway). Those players are Oregon's Dion Jordan, LSU's Barkevious Mingo, and Florida State's Bjoern Werner. Werner's Combine was not notable. Jordan ran a 4.60 40, tied for third best, and did well in a few other categories. On the other hand, Mingo excelled, which is no surprise. He had the second best 40 at 4.58, and topped both of the jumps.
However, Jordan is also huge, making his performance more impressive. Meanwhile, Mingo is a bit more lean and agile, and a lot of people see him more as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Also, Jordan was coached by Chip Kelly in college, and he now coaches the Eagles, who draft fourth overall.
It may be worth noting that Trevardo Williams from UConn had the best 40-yard time, and he could be worth taking in a middle round. If Margus Hunt from SMU lasts until Detroit's second round pick, he would be a nice selection. He's a raw player, sort of the European version of BYU's Ziggy Ansah. Hunt had a great Combine, but he still has improvements to make on the field, although he did have an excellent bowl game to end his college career.
Linebacker doesn't really enthuse me, to be honest. Sio Moore from UConn is an interesting prospect. Cornelius Washington from Georgia had the best Combine, doing well in the 40 and the jumps but also having the best bench press performance by far. Zaviar Gooden from Missouri did good as well, including having the best 40 time.
We will know where Detroit's draft needs lie after free agency happens, which is next on the NFL's docket. The Lions will have needs on defense. Some of these players could end up filling them.