Five possible defensive first-round draft picks for the Detroit Lions

Associated Press • Apr 27, 2017 at 12:45 PM

When it comes to the 21st overall pick in the NFL draft, the Detroit Lions could have several options.

Linebacker and defensive end are the biggest needs, but it depends who the teams ahead of the Lions select.

General manager Bob Quinn prefers to go with the best player available meshed with need.

A year ago he drafted left tackle Taylor Decker in the first round which was a solid pick.

Will Quinn go to defense in the first round on Thursday night?

Here are five of the top defensive options in the first round:

1. Linebacker Jarrad Davis (Florida) would certainly fill one of the Lions' biggest needs. They need a starting linebacker to play with Tahir Whitehead. With DeAndre Levy gone, this is a glaring hole on the defense. ESPN's Todd McShay calls Davis "an explosive linebacker with sideline-to-sideline range in the running game and a relentless motor.''

2. Defensive end Charles Harris (Missouri) has been compared to Cliff Avril, former Lions and current Seahawks defensive end. The Lions certainly need a pass-rushing specialist to work opposite of Ziggy Ansah and Harris could be the answer. Pete Prisco of CBSsports.com has Harris selected by Detroit in his latest mock draft. "Whether out of the two- or three-point stance, Harris fires off the ball, giving would-be blockers a legitimate speed threat to worry about. His burst forces tackles wide and Harris complements his speed with an effective spin counter back inside, showing lateral agility and balance,'' Prisco wrote.

3. Linebacker T.J. Watt (Wisconsin) has moved up in the mock drafts from second or third round to first round in some analysts' mock drafts. The brother of J.J. played the position one year for the Badgers. It's his athleticism and work ethic that make him stand apart. The bloodlines don't hurt either. CBSsports.com's Rob Rang has Watt going to the Lions in the first round. "Although he might not have elite movement skills, Watt's initial quickness and play speed pop off the screen, using his violent hands and long arms to work off contact. His aggressiveness is a double-edged sword, leading to both positive and negative plays, but his determination, work habits and competitive drive mirror his older brother and will win over a NFL coaching staff.''

4. Outside linebacker Haason Reddick (Temple) possesses "blossoming leadership skills with the inner competitive drive and appetite for football" according to Will Brinson of CBSsports.com. Again, the linebacker spot is a position of need for the Lions. Brinson worte: "Very good pursuit speed and motor. Backfield vision to track the ball, avoid blockers and track down the ball carrier. Alert to see plays develop, trusting his reads and not getting fooled by much. Well-developed muscle tone and worked hard to max out his body - added 50-plus pounds of good weight since enrolling at Temple.''

5. Defensive end Taco Charlton (Michigan) is ranked 24th on NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah's list of the top 50 draft prospects. Again, defensive end is a need for the Lions. "As a pass rusher, he can win with quickness or power. He can dip and rip or employ a pure bull rush. He doesn't have an elite get-off but he has a great feel for how he's being blocked, effectively countering to get to the passer. Against the run, he's inconsistent. He flashes the ability to shoot his hands and keep defenders off his chest but he also gets cut a bunch,' Jeremiah wrote. Charlton is seen by most as a late first- or second-round section.

Biggest question mark: Jabrill Peppers (Michigan) has been ranked anywhere from top 15 to second round. His position is not clearly defined for the NFL, although it's likely to be a safety playing closer to the line of scrimmage. He didn't help himself when his drug test at the NFL combine came back with a dilute sample which the NFL considers a positive drug test. NFL general managers - including Bob Quinn - know many of the prospects smoke marijuana. So that in itself would not be a major issue. Just have to wonder about the intelligence of prospects who know they will be drug tested at combine and don't prepare. Peppers' agent said he was trying to hydrate himself before his combine workouts.

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