Bob Wojnowski and Justin Rogers look ahead to this weekend's game with the Bears. Detroit News
Ranking in the back half in the NFL in sacks this season, and with one of their top pass rushers poised to hit free agency, the Detroit Lions appear to have a pass-rush problem.
ESPN’s Todd McShay sees them addressing it in April’s NFL draft.
The NFL draft analyst has the Lions taking Virginia Tech defensive end/linebacker Tremaine Edmunds at No. 18 overall in his first mock draft, posted Wednesday (pay site).
Edmunds, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound junior who has yet to declare for the draft, leads the Hokies in tackles (102 in 12 games), tackles for loss (14), sacks (5.5), and forced fumbles (three). He’s a third-team All-American for the Associated Press.
“Detroit has plenty of needs on defense but must be encouraged by the play of 2017 first-round LB Jarrad Davis,” McShay writes. “Regardless of whether the Lions re-sign pending free agent Ezekiel Ansah, Detroit needs more edge rushers. Edmunds has the versatility to cover and rush the passer, and he is a gifted athlete at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds. He’ll likely test well at the combine.”
He likely would bolster a Lions defense that ranks tied for 22nd in the NFL in sacks with 26, and has tried sparking its pass rush by signing veteran Dwight Freeney, 37.
The Lions might not bring back Ansah, a former first-round pick who is second on the team with six sacks, but has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons after collecting 14.5 sacks in 2015. He’s missed two games this season with a back injury, and even when he’s played, it’s been an uneven performance. Three of his six sacks came in one game, against the New York Giants in Week 2. He’s in the final year of his rookie contract.
McShay also has the New Orleans Saints beefing up their defensive line, taking Michigan senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst at No. 28. Hurst, who was named the team’s most valuable player on Tuesday night, is a first-team AP All-American who finished the season with 59 tackles, including 13.5 for loss and five sacks.
“New Orleans could use more depth and versatility on an improving defensive line,” McShay writes, “and Hurst would be a good value at this point in the draft.”
McShay based the draft order on ESPN’s Power Football Index. The NFL draft is April 26-28 in Arlington, Texas.