6 Detroit Lions players that benefitted from the 2024 NFL Draft

Six players for the Detroit Lions benefited from the 2024 NFL Draft

The 2024 NFL Draft class of the Detroit Lions produced these six players.

There is more to the NFL Draft than merely selecting athletes. The guys that were not selected are frequently the ones who have the biggest impact on the composition of the roster.

Some positions were thought to be sure-fire landing sites for rookie draft picks because of innumerable mock drafts. Rather, it’s possible that the draft ignored these viewpoints. This might present fresh prospects for players who have previously been on the bubble as well as a small sense of comfort for those who have not.

We discussed six Detroit Lions players who, after the 2024 NFL Draft, have a lot to show on Monday. We’ll look at the players today who profited subtly from the Lions’ draft class.

Antoine Green, Wide Receiver
Without adding a new receiver to their roster, the Lions exited the draft without acquiring one. They added Isaiah Williams and Jalon Calhoun as undrafted free agents, but otherwise, their roster hasn’t changed since Josh Reynolds was traded to the Denver Broncos during the free agency period. I think Antoine Green has benefited the most so far, but a free agency signing could happen in the upcoming weeks.

The seventh-round pick in 2023, Green, didn’t play much in his debut season, but if the aforementioned signing doesn’t happen, he might be in line for a bigger role. Amon-Ra St. Brown is expected to be the team’s main target offensively, and Jameson Williams will probably play a bigger part in his upcoming third season, although there are some doubts about the depth players. Although he is a spark plug on the field, Reynolds cannot be replaced by Kalif Raymond due to his size. After being acquired via trade, Donovan Peoples-Jones was brought back for a second look, but it is far from certain that he will settle into the WR3 spot given his meagre 58 receiving yards since arriving in Detroit.

Green can be a weapon for the Lions attack because of his size (6-foot-2 and 200 pounds) and speed (4.47 40-yard dash). It is up to him to merit that position.

Josh Paschal, DEA
Even with the signing of Marcus Davenport, the Lions had a chance to improve their pass rush in the draft. Across from Aidan Hutchinson, a plethora of players rotated in and out with varying degrees of success, including Josh Paschal and John Cominsky. Although they were valuable additions to the team, their performance fell well short of what Hutchinson would require from them.

Detroit’s decision to forego drafting a defensive end may have been a vote of confidence in their previous second-round pick. Mekhi Wingo, a defensive lineman with pass-rushing ability, was selected by the Lions, but he won’t be competing with outside edge defenders like Levi Onwuzurike for a position.

Paschal and Cominsky shared the starting job in 2023, but I think Paschal will have an advantage entering the following campaign because of a gradually rising snap total in the final stretch. In an indication that the Lions like him but not all that much, Cominsky also took a wage cut this offseason. Davenport might not be an 800+ snap defender coming off of an injury. In that scenario, Paschal might be the first person to go.

James Houston and Mathieu Betts, OLB

Speaking of pass rushers, the Lions’ lack of action on draft day is good news for James Houston and Mathieu Betts. Houston and Betts are the frontrunners for the pass rushing linebacker spot on defense in wake of Julian Okwara’s departure. It may not be a sizable role, however, so it could very well be a singular spot to be had between the two.

Houston exploded onto the scene as a rookie, but his follow-up season was slowed with injury. Even prior to his injury, he was lower on the depth chart than many would have expected. Yet that rookie season still looms large, and if the Lions can get even a fraction of that production, it would be significant.

Betts, meanwhile, joins the Lions after a 18-sack campaign with the Canadian Football League’s BC Lions. While that sack total is impressive, it also came against lesser CFL tackles. Additionally, Betts has little experience at linebacker, so the occasional drops into coverage could prove to be a steep learning curve.

Unless undrafted edge defenders Isaac Ukwu or Nate Lynn impress in training camp, at least one of Houston or Betts should be destined for the final roster.

Brandon Joseph, S

I mentioned safety as a pressing need post-draft despite the selection of Sione Vaki. With Vaki slated for an offense-first role, the Lions are still in need of safety help. Brandon Joseph is the only returning non-starting safety from 2023, and given that the only signings as of yet have been a few undrafted rookies, it might bode well for Joseph’s chances.

Kerby Joseph, Ifeatu Melifonwu, and Brian Branch are entrenched as the starters on defense, but Joseph could sneak his way onto the roster. The Lions lost C.J. Gardner-Johnson and released Tracy Walker, so there is an opening for a least one safety spot. Joseph stuck around all of 2023 on the practice squad before signing a futures deal. That is as much of a vote of confidence as you can get for a practice squad player.

The Lions seem destined for a free agent signing, but that might not be a disaster for Joseph if he can demonstrate some special teams ability. Joseph’s status as a player who went undrafted in 2023 means he could easily be bumped off the roster, but he at least has a year under his belt. Will that be enough of an edge?

Michael Badgley, K

Drafting a kicker is not a proposition often liked by fans, but the Lions were in a position where such a move would have been welcomed. Michael Badgley had reclaimed the starting spot from Riley Patterson, but a lack of leg strength had hampered the Lions offense. An upgrade via the draft was more than possible, but by the end of the seventh round, Badgley remained the only kicker on the team.

The Lions are reportedly signing Michigan product James Turner as an undrafted free agent, but I am skeptical that he will beat Badgley for the starting role. Many of the best kickers in the NFL were undrafted, but Turner shares many of the problems that Badgley does. His longest successful kick in college was just 50 yards and that lack of distance means he will need an incredibly accurate training camp to beat out Badgley—or a horrific camp from the veteran.

I think Badgley’s job would have been in jeopardy if the Lions had chosen to select or signed a strong-legged kicker. Rather, he appears to be the clear favorite going into training camp. Nevertheless, Jake Bates might be available to Detroit as the UFL season is about to end. Pay attention.

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