Matt Patricia’s first season as head coach of the Detroit Lions was a rough one. Detroit struggled through a 6-10 season that included losing four of the last six games. Even worse, starting quarterback Matthew Stafford took a step backward in his 10th season in the NFL.
Part of the problem was an offense featuring few top targets for Stafford. After Kenny Golladay’s 1,063 yards, no Lions receiver caught more than 517 yards on the season. Worse yet, Detroit’s top tight end, Levine Toilolo, only had 263 yards receiving.
In a draft class loaded at tight end, the Lions could have their choice of standouts T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant of Iowa with the No. 8 pick. Is that the best option for Detroit, or could Patricia find another player to add to his defense?
8. Detroit Lions: Brian Burns, edge rusher, Florida State
Reisman: There’s a lot of good options here for Detroit in tight end T.J. Hockenson, defensive end Montez Sweat, or even wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, all of whom would make varying levels of sense for Detroit. Free agency really left Detroit’s options open.
But the player who gives the Lions the most value out of this pick is Florida State’s Brian Burns. As a pure pass rusher, Burns may be the most technically sound player in this draft. However, Burns’ value isn’t just at being a menace to quarterbacks; he’s also pretty solid defending the run, which is something a defensive-minded coach like Patricia will love.
The Lions added Trey Flowers in free agency, but you can never have enough pass rushers. Burns would come in immediately as a standup or hands-in-the-dirt edge defender and make Detroit’s defensive front one of the most feared in the entire league.
Analysis: Burns is a player who has seemingly been ascending in the weeks leading up to the draft. Most edge rushers don’t possess his combination of burst and edge-bending skill. That includes some of this year’s top pass rushers like Sweat and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell. Burns just plays at a different level athletically. The real concern about this pick in a few weeks is whether or not Burns will even be available when the Lions are on the clock with the No. 8 pick. If he’s not, Sweat may be an option. If they’re both gone, that’s when the conversation starts for a player like Hockenson.
Top five remaining players:
- 7. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
- 8. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
- 10. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
- 12. Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
- 13. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
What grade do you give the pick of Brian Burns by the Detroit Lions?
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