As he slides into the role of general manager for each club, McShay focused on both lines and the secondary during Detroit’s first two days of the draft, potentially giving the Lions long-term solutions at critical positions with his first two picks.
He drafted Ohio State offensive tackle Taylor Decker for Detroit at No. 16 – a pick that makes complete sense for the Lions provided Ronnie Stanley doesn’t unexpectedly slide to Detroit. If Stanley is off the board and Decker is there, he is likely the selection. He has a future at left tackle and with enough work on footwork between now and the start of the season, he should be able to slide in as a starter at right tackle next to Larry Warford.
Decker’s footwork is extremely good from his basketball days, and his length gives him the chance to keep defenders off of him fairly easily. He would fit in well and would be an immediate upgrade on a line protecting Matthew Stafford. He also would provide the Lions flexibility for left tackle Riley Reiff, who is entering a contract year, both in terms of retaining Reiff and whether they keep him at left tackle long term.
The second round is where McShay takes a big risk for the Lions – and if it pans out it might be the steal of the draft. McShay drafted Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche to the Lions at No. 46. Nkemdiche is one of the five most talented players in the draft, but there are questions about his off-field behavior that have followed him throughout his final season at Ole Miss and during the draft process.
Nkemdiche, if he can stay out of trouble, would give Detroit a dynamic presence in the middle of the defensive line and provide the long-term solution the Lions have been searching for since Ndamukong Suh entered the final year of his contract in 2014.
It’d be a risk, though, something that could be tough for Quinn to make in his first draft. At some point, though, the value for Nkemdiche mitigates the potential risk, and the middle of the second round is probably a point where that value outweighs the risk. If it ends up being a hit, it would be the pick of the draft.
Will Redmond is an interesting third-round prospect. He’s a corner from Mississippi State who was a freshman when Darius Slay was in his final year at the school. He’s somewhat like Slay in that he’s a good man cornerback who can shut down opposing receivers in one-on-one matchups. He’s coming off a torn right ACL injury, which could be a concern for a corner.
He doesn’t have a ton of experience, and he’s listed at under 6-feet (5-foot-11) so those could also be concerns, but the potential is there depending on how he plays coming off the ACL injury. In the third round, though, he could be a value selection.