CBS Sports: Davis could help Lions win NFC North

The Detroit News

Linebacker Jarrad Davis has been hailed, for the most part, as a solid draft pick for the Lions.

Will Brinson of CBS Sports thinks he might be even better than that.

Davis, Brinson writes, is the draft pick in the NFC North who could help the Lions win the division.

Brinson picked one rookie from each division who could “help to push their team over the top, or to flip things for their franchise.”

That’s Davis, the Lions’ first-round pick from Florida who they took No. 21 overall.

“The reality of the Lions’ situation is they were a nine-win team that got extremely lucky in 2016,” Brinson writes. “They were bad on defense, ranking 32nd overall in DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average), and part of that was being bad against the run (23rd in DVOA, 14th in total yards per game, 20th in yards per rush).

“The linebacker corps is a major concern, and adding Davis should immediately improve the rushing defense. He could grow into a legitimately dangerous middle linebacker under Teryl Austin’s tutorship. One of the biggest pluses for looking at Davis as an impact guy isn’t just the guaranteed opportunity to start — the Lions already said he’ll top the depth chart at middle linebacker — but also the fact that he started as a true freshman for Florida. He has experience being thrown into the fire and producing. If he does that for the Lions, maybe they can actually take the division this season.”

Former Michigan standout Taco Charlton could do the same in the NFC East, Brinson says, after the Cowboys took him at No. 28 overall.

“The Cowboys lost a ton of pieces to their secondary in free agency and adding Chidobe Awuzie in the second round was a massive steal,” Brinson writes. “But this defense won't be truly great unless it can generate some pass rush.”

“Going after Charlton in the first round gives them a bona fide blue-chip pass rusher, and it offers (defensive coordinator) Rod Marinelli a chance to really mold a young pass rusher with a clean track record. The defensive coordinator has a long history of getting the most out of his players.”

The Carolina Panthers drafted Western Michigan tackle Taylor Moton in the second round (No. 64 overall) as their third overall pick in the draft, but Brinson writes he could be a difference-maker in the NFC South.

“ ... Being able to help shore up protection for Cam Newton is critical,” Brinson writes. “If Newton is protected and the Panthers are running well, then Carolina is going to win this division and look like a Super Bowl contender again.”