’19 mocks: Lions bolster D-line; UM's Patterson a 1st-rounder

The Detroit News

The Detroit Lions didn’t address their needs along the defensive line until the fourth round of the NFL Draft, trading up to select Da’Shawn Hand of Alabama.

That very well could change next year.

A few sites already are rolling out their 2019 mock drafts, and at least two — CBS Sports and SB Nation — have the Lions wasting no time bolstering their defensive front.

SB Nation, using win projections from the Westgate Superbook, have the Lions taking Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary at No. 16, while CBS Sports uses Sportsline projections before the 2018 draft to slot the Lions at No. 15, taking Alabama defensive tackle Raekwon Davis.

If CBS Sports’ projections hold true — and, we know, it’s a big “if” — it would give Detroit’s front four a definite crimson feel, with Davis joining Hand and A’Shawn Robinson as former Alabama standouts playing on the same unit.

“The Lions should almost certainly be expected to use this pick on defense in 2019,” writes R.J. White of CBS Sports, “and there should be great defensive talent available up and down the first round of the draft. Perfect example: Davis is our fifth defensive tackle off the board, yet he brings a fantastic ability to disrupt the pocket (10 TFL, 8.5 sacks in 2017) and the short passing game at 6-foot-8.”

Gary, who would have to skip his senior season to enter the 2019 draft, certainly is included in the defensive talent available in the first round, with White pegging him for the Indianapolis Colts at No. 12.

“Gary has massive upside as an interior pass rusher,” White writes, “something this (Indinapolis) defense is sorely lacking coming out of the 2018 draft.”

In SB Nation’s mock, Gary would bolster what writer Dan Kadar says the Lions’ 2018 draft class is missing.

“The Lions didn’t address their pass rush situation, and Ezekiel Ansah is in the final year of his contract,” Kadar writes. “Gary isn’t a traditional speed edge rusher, but he can generate a power rush.”

The 6-foot-5, 281-pound Gary had 12 tackles of loss and six sacks last season for the Wolverines, en route to All-Big Ten honors.

He would be the first of two first-round picks CBS Sports and SB Nation have coming out of Michigan, joining quarterback Shea Patterson, who last week was ruled immediately eligible for the 2018 season after transferring from Ole Miss.

SB Nation has Patterson going to the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 22.

“A transfer from Ole Miss, Patterson is already being referred to by Michigan coaches as a playmaker,” Kadar writes. “In just seven games last season at Ole Miss, Patterson threw for 2,259 yards and 17 touchdowns. If he can quickly develop under Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, he could end up being one-and-done with the Wolverines.”

CBS Sports has the new Michigan quarterback going No. 24 to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who White says “could be shopping for their next franchise QB next year if Blake Bortles doesn’t up his game in 2018.”