April 17, 2024

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NFL Draft analysts identify 5 prospects who fit the Detroit Lions culture

NFL Draft analysts identify 5 prospects who fit the Detroit Lions culture

Mock drafts are a weekly staple during the offseason, and a few of the network's draft analysts will often coordinate conference calls with the media in conjunction with their most recent mock draft. This was the case with Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network And ESPN's Matt Miller This week, they each spent time sharing their thoughts on prospects, different NFL teams, draft strategies, and a variety of other topics.

The Detroit Lions media usually has a strong presence at these offseason meetings, and as a result, there are often many questions regarding the team. The common theme regarding the Lions in each of these video conferences centered on players who fit not only into the roster, but also into Detroit's established culture.

“This is the great thing they did in Detroit,” Jeremiah noted. “All the talent they brought in there, I think the biggest thing they did was they had a real identity of who they are and what they do. They set that vision from the beginning, and they went out and found the right guys.

With the established and established culture in Detroit, the Lions are constantly looking to add players who align with their vision and mindset. During conference calls conducted by Jeremiah and the Millers, several potential players were identified as “Detroit Lions-type players,” but nothing more than Missouri cornerback Ennis Raxestro.

“Rackstraw is my man” Miller said in his video conference. “This is my favorite project this year […] If you're looking for a typical Detroit Lions-type player, I think the athleticism at the line of scrimmage — he's a great tackler in space as well, especially because he's not the biggest guy. He'll probably be 6 feet tall, 190 pounds, maybe 195 if we're lucky. He's not an amazing physical player when you just look at height, weight and strength, but he certainly plays like one of the most physical corners in this or any draft. He's up there with some of the best cornerbacks I've evaluated by playing close to the line of scrimmage and using that physicality.

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Rakestraw's stock is on the rise in the draft community, but at this time, he is expected to be available at the end of the first round, near the time the Lions have the clock on the clock at pick No. 29 overall.

“I think it's in that range, yeah,” Jeremiah said. “He's a little higher than that. I know from talking to teams (that I'm) a little bit above him compared to some teams. The toughness, the toughness, the aggression he plays with, the energy, the passion he plays with, yeah, he's a 100 percent fit for Detroit.”

in Jeremiah's mock draftRakestraw was off the board at pick No. 22, so he paired Black with West Virginia center Zach Frazier— which Jeremiah also insists fits perfectly into the culture in Detroit.

“I was giving them Frazier for pretty much the same reason,” Jeremiah continued. “When you look at the center from West Virginia – the guy is a four-time state champion wrestler. He's super, super physical. He finished, guys. He plays with such bad style.” […] There were some guys when we were in Baltimore where we used to say, play like Raven and we could put red stars on guys that we felt were our type of players. I just mentioned Rakestraw. I would say, Frasier. Both of these guys are Detroit Lions players.

Would the Lions enjoy trading for Rakestraw or another prospect? Jeremiah believes this could definitely happen.

“Oh, yes, that's quite possible,” Jeremiah exclaimed. “I wouldn't rule it out. When you think about the corners and edges, I think if they can get one of those top three, it would make sense. […] If you're cornering, I like Tyrion Arnold. If Roma Udonze is my favorite player in the draft, Tyrion Arnold (Alabama) It's a close second. I have him way there. If it starts to drift a little bit, as big and fast and instinctive and productive as it is, it is fluid. He's a really good player, a combination of physicality, athleticism and reliability. Great kid. I had the opportunity to visit him a little. He's one of those people for me – it would be helpful to go up and up if he starts to get a little carried away and maybe be aggressive about it. It will fit them as I already mentioned with Rakestraw and Quinnyon Mitchell (Toledo). Those three guys would be trade targets for me as far as what suits Detroit.

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Jeremiah mentioned the rim as a potential target position for the Lions and brought up another Missouri defender who was commonly mocked in Detroit — then compared him to a Saints defender that coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn are familiar with.

(Darius Robinson“) He was kind of in that tough spot where they were trying to figure out if he was at Missouri 'is he going to be an inside guy or an outside guy' because he's bigger,” Jeremiah noted. “Cam Jordan is just the name you give there in terms of body type. I remember watching Cam Jordan at Cal working out with the skill guys and running with the skill guys because he was an athlete. (At Rakestraw), you have a 286-pound guy who can really move that way; And I think he's better from the outside when he's on the edge. He can push through your chest with power. He can really close from the back side. I thought the wider fit with him really helped unleash him, and you saw that in Big bowl. He feels to me like someone who's probably going to go somewhere in their 20s, and I think he deserves it.

While the No. 29 pick is not the ideal position for the Lions to acquire an elite player, general manager Brad Holmes' past success has led to an established roster that allows him the freedom to select the best player for Detroit, regardless of position. He is the one who makes the choice.

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“When you've really built the foundation, you can do it,” Jeremiah said of the Lions' ability to adapt to the best player available. “That draft (in 2023) was successful because of what they did, and what Brad and those guys had done previously to build the line of scrimmage on both sides. They had a quarterback in place. They hit a home run on wide receiver. The expensive elite positions, they had built The foundations already had them. This freed them.

“It's a big advantage compared to the rest of the league where you can run back. Obviously the tight end gets to the house. You can get the linebacker off the ball. You can do those things once you build the foundation. I still personally believe the right thing to do is build the foundation and then You can do what the Lions did last year.