The Detroit Lions are in desperate need of help along their defensive line. They ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every statistic related to pressuring opposing quarterbacks in 2017, and they’ll need to fix that if they want to complete their defense in 2018.
The Detroit Lions Should Draft Harold Landry in the First Round of the 2018 NFL Draft
Defensive End a priority for the Lions
While it may seem that defensive tackle is a more pressing need for the Lions, it’s not a position that the Lions need to target immediately. 2017 free agent acquisition Akeem Spence became a force in the middle in the second half of the season. Additionally, new signee Sylvester Williams could prove to be a diamond in the rough.
Even if the Lions think otherwise, there is very significant depth at defensive tackle beyond the first round. Names such as Tim Settle, B.J. Hill, Harrison Phillips, and Rasheem Greene should all be available on day two. Due to the high level of mid-round talent, some players could fall and be a day three steal.
The defensive end position, however, does not have much cause for optimism. The Lions’ one bright spot, Ezekiel Ansah, was very streaky in 2017. The longtime Lion spent much of the year on the injury report again. He finished the year with 12 sacks, however nine of those 12 came in three games. After being hit with the franchise tag in the midst of his prime, Ansah likely won’t return to the Lions in 2019.
Beyond Ansah, there is a steep drop off in talent at defensive end. Former Chicago Bear Cornelius Washington disappointed in his first year with the team. He was almost nonexistent and became a forgotten name along the defensive line as the year went on.
Kerry Hyder Jr., who shined in 2016, may not still have the same potential. Hyder tore his achilles tendon in the Lions’ first preseason game last year against the Indianapolis Colts. Not to mention, much of Hyder’s 2016 sack production came in the first half of the season. As the 2016 season went on, Hyder’s production fell off a cliff.
Landry could be the solution to the Lions’ woes
Enter Harold Landry. The Boston College product has been a force to be reckoned with along their defensive line the past two seasons, and he’s almost a lock to be a day one selection. Should Landry land in Detroit, he would be reunited with his defensive line coach from the last two seasons, now-Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni.
While most mocks have Landry projected towards the end of the first round, his 2017 film is to blame. Landry was hampered by an ankle injury most of the season, something that can be very inhibiting to a position that requires a player to get low and come around the edge. He has gradually moved up to the middle of the first round in many mocks as people discover his 2016 tape in which he seemed unstoppable.
Harold Landry really didn’t play 2017 healthy. Here’s some highlights from a 45-7 blowout in 2016. He’s a top 10 player in this class. pic.twitter.com/roA4H4aGih
— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) March 21, 2018
In spite of his smaller size for an edge rusher, Landry specializes in getting low. He has — without a doubt — the lowest bend of the edge rushers in this class, something that proves useful against larger linemen. Additionally, Landry is very skilled in disengaging from linemen to make a tackle. Both of these skills are on full display in the tape above.
A steal at 20th overall
It is a consensus that Harold Landry is at least a fair value pick at 20th overall. He’s making a late push up the draft boards, however, and with good reason. Reuniting him with his ex-defensive line coach could make him a very effective piece in the Lions’ new defense under Matt Patricia. On top of that, pairing him with Ansah would be a monumental improvement along the Lions’ defensive line, and could see him taking over Ansah’s role as the primary edge rusher if Ansah leaves in free agency next year. Should the Lions snag Harold Landry at number 20 he could prove to be a steal, and a key piece along the Lions’ defensive line for years to come.
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