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Chirco: Final Lions 2024 Mock Draft

Lions address various positions of need in latest mock draft.

It's time for my fifth and final Lions-centric seven-round mock of the 2024 draft season. 

Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes currently owns seven total picks, including a pair of sixth-round selections.

Without further ado, here is what I believe the Lions will do in this week's draft. 

Round 1, Pick 29 - EDGE Marshawn Kneeland, Western Michigan 

This might be a little early for Kneeland based on where he's being mocked currently. So, Holmes likely could still grab him by trading out of the first round. However, Holmes, remember, does not place much stock in a player's pre-draft rankings from prognosticators. If the fourth-year GM likes a prospect enough, he'll take him (regardless of where the draft pundits think the individual should be selected).

In that sense, there is logic behind Holmes selecting Kneeland here, whose stock seems to be rising by the day.

The Western Michigan product – who grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich. – was a standout run defender and an effective pass-rusher during his collegiate career. 

In his final campaign with the Broncos, the 6-foot-3, 275-pounder amassed 57 total tackles, including 7.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He earned second-team All-MAC honors for his efforts, and also received an impressive 89.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. 

To me, Kneeland – despite his perceived slightly lower draft stock – would be a solid pick here, and provide the Lions with a perfect EDGE complement to Pro Bowler Aidan Hutchinson. 

Round 2, Pick 61 - OL Cooper Beebe, Kansas State

The Lions add some much-needed offensive line depth here. 

Beebe profiles as a high-IQ, high-motor lineman at the next level, with the ability to play all along the interior of the offensive line. 

In his final season at Kansas State, the 6-foot-3, 322-pounder demonstrated some superb versatility, logging 100-plus snaps at both right tackle (103) and left guard (819). In total, he ended up recording a career-high 942 offensive snaps in 2023, while receiving a 90.4 pass-blocking grade and an 83.9 overall mark from Pro Football Focus. 

And, in 2,641 career snaps with the Wildcats, he allowed just two sacks. 

I don't think Holmes & Co. could go wrong with Beebe at this spot in the second round.

Round 3, Pick 73 - CB Mike Sainristil, Michigan

Even after adding both Carlton Davis and Amik Robertson earlier this offseason, the Lions have needed additional cornerback help, especially after parting ways with Cam Sutton. 

The organization addresses the position here by grabbing a player from its own backyard in Michigan product Mike Sainristil.

While with the Wolverines, the uber-athletic Sainristil proved time and time again that he could handle the duties of a slot corner. 

The 5-foot-9, 182-pound defensive back, who began his career at Michigan as a wide receiver, is a high-IQ, scrappy player with exemplary ball skills. He's also a proficient blitzer off the edges. 

During Michigan's undefeated, national title-winning campaign in 2023, Sainristil intercepted six passes, and recorded a 81.4 overall PFF grade, including an 85.0 pass-coverage mark. 

I believe the ex-Wolverines defender would be a solid Day 2 acquisition for Holmes & Co.

Round 4, Pick 111 (via trade with N.Y. Jets) - WR Brenden Rice, USC  

Trade details: 

Detroit trades Eagles' 2025 fourth-round pick (acquired via D'Andre Swift trade) and own 2025 seventh-round pick 

Jets trade No. 111 overall pick 

For those of you wondering if Rice is related to former San Francisco 49ers wideout Jerry Rice, I'm here to tell you that he is. In fact, Brenden Rice is the son of the Pro Football Hall of Famer. And while he might not possess the makeup of an All-Pro NFL receiver (like his father did), he still possesses some solid intangibles. 

Rice, a second-team All-Pac-12 selection in his final season at USC, is equipped with the prototypical size of an “X” receiver at the next level. The big-bodied receiver, standing in at 6-foot-2, 208 pounds, is gifted with some excellent hands and high-end ball skills. And with some proper seasoning, it is believed that he could develop into a solid No. 2 receiver. 

At the very least, he could immediately slide into the role of a No. 3 receiver with the Lions, behind Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams on the depth chart. 

To me, Rice would be a highly valuable fourth-round selection. 

Round 5, Pick 164 - DT Khristian Boyd, Northern Iowa

If the Northern Iowa product slid all this way to the fifth round, Holmes & Co. would be foolish not to take him. 

The East-West Shrine Bowl standout is easily one of the best small-school prospects in this year's draft class.

In fact, among all interior defensive linemen eligible to be taken in the 2024 draft, he's been PFF’s highest-graded run defender since 2022 (92.1). Additionally, among all interior linemen in the class, he ranks as the site's sixth-best pass-rusher since 2022 (83.1).

He's an all-around quality defensive lineman, and he'd undoubtedly be a solid find at this juncture in the draft for Detroit

Round 6, Pick 201 - S Sione Vaki, Utah 

After adding Sainristil on Day 2, the Lions continue to bolster their secondary here by drafting Vaki. 

Vaki has become a trendy Day 3 pick for the Lions – and for good reason. 

With C.J. Gardner-Johnson having departed the organization earlier this offseason, Detroit will likely be in the market for a safety this week. And, it'd be hard-pressed to find a better one than Vaki this late in the draft.

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound defensive back played both defense and offense at Utah, lining up at running back on occasion in 2023. He compiled 51 total tackles, including 8.5 for loss, along with two sacks and an interception in his final season with the Utes. Plus, he accumulated 42 carries for 317 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 11 catches for 203 yards and three scores.

Along with playing safety, he has the necessary tools to contribute as a third-down back and as a special teams performer at the next level. It makes him the definition of a versatile “chess piece,” as well as someone that would be worth taking a flier on at this advanced stage in the draft. 

Round 6, Pick 205 - OL Dylan McMahon, N.C. State

Detroit doubles up on offensive linemen in this April's draft, nabbing McMahon with its second-of-two sixth-round picks. 

I'm of the mindset that you can never have enough offensive linemen, and the Lions get a versatile one here in the form of McMahon.

The N.C. State product made starts at left guard, right guard and center during his four-year collegiate career. And, in his final two seasons with the Wolfpack, the 6-foot-3, 299-pounder allowed just two sacks on 867 pass-blocking snaps. 

He also put together some impressive numbers at the NFL combine, recording a 33-inch vertical and a 9’7’’ broad jump. Meanwhile, he ran a 4.45 short shuttle, and posted a 3-cone time of 7.26 (second best among offensive linemen). 

Sure, you can make the case that McMahon lacks the prototypical size of an NFL lineman. However, at this juncture in the draft, I'm still convinced that he'd be a solid depth piece for the Lions’ offensive line.

Round 7, Pick 249 - TE Tanner McLachlan, Arizona

The Lions close out the draft by finding a running mate for tight end Sam LaPorta.

McLachlan, a former basketball player, possesses a solid degree of athleticism and some good hands. And, he profiles as a reliable red-zone target at the next level. 

In two seasons at Arizona, the 6-foot-5, 244-pounder suited up for 25 games, and totaled 79 receptions, 984 yards and six touchdowns. 

I believe he'd be a quality selection with the Lions’ final pick.