Erik Schlitt’s Detroit Lions 7-round mock draft, 2.0 (2024)

The 2024 NFL Draft is just over two weeks away and it’s time for the next installment in my Detroit Lions mock draft series. If you missed my initial Lions mock draft of the offseason, make sure you go back and check it out because I made a point of not selecting any of the players from the first installment.

Note: For this experiment, I used PFF’s Mock Draft simulator, and per usual, only allowed myself the option to trade once, with the qualifier that it must fall into the parameters of being realistic.

Let’s take a look at the results.

Pick No. 29: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

Superpower: Man coverage

In my first mock draft, McKinstry was off the board when the Lions were on the clock, but in this installment, he was available and I seized the opportunity to upgrade the Lions' cornerback room.

McKinstry won a starting role as a freshman under Alabama coach Nick Saban, which is worth taking note of when considering corner prospects. Saban demands a high level of football intelligence in order to earn a starting role in his secondary, something we have seen translate to the NFL. The most recent example of this is with Lions nickel defensive back Brian Branch, who McKinley started next to for two years.

While Alabama scaled back their man coverage defense this season, McKinstry performed very well when in a man coverage scheme, allowing only one reception every 36.7 snaps—one of the best ratios in this class. But McKinstry isn’t just a man-cover player, as Alabama’s increased usage of zone coverage afforded McKinstry valuable experience, which led to positive production and rounding out his overall game.

It’s also worth noting that the Lions met with McKinstry at the Combine, had him in for a top 30 visit, and Lions general manager Brad Holmes attended Alabama’s pro day.

Pick No. 61: Cooper Beebe, G, Kansas State

Superpower: Power-based run blocker

Kansas State turned to Beebe for help in a variety of ways, including taking advantage of his positional flexibility and strength in the run game. He started most of his career at left guard (1847 snaps), but also saw playing time at left tackle (778 snaps), right tackle (476 snaps), and right guard (25 snaps). He never saw snaps at center in a game, but he was reportedly also cross-training there as well.

In the run game, he was the point of the spear that Kansas State used to operate its gap and zone-blocking schemes behind. At 6-foot-3 12 and 322 pounds, Beebe is a downhill bruiser who relies on this power to drive holes through defensive lines. There are some analysts who have Beebe further down their draft boards (including in PFF’s simulator), which likely stems from concerns around arm-length and pass protection consistency, but he’s only allowed one sack in the past three seasons and is the type of player who always finds a way to get his job done.

He compares very favorably to Lions right guard Kevin Zeitler.

Pick No. 73: Devontez Walker, WR, North Carolina

Superpower: Downfield big-play threat

Walker has a nice combination of size (6-foot-1 12, 193 pounds) and athleticism (9.76 RAS), and could fill the Lions’ open void at the WR-X position, even though he has more of a WR-Z, vertically-based skill set.

Walker began his college career at Kent State where he earned All-MAC honors, then transferred to North Carolina in 2023, but a paperwork mistake by the school delayed his access to football until a month into the season. Once cleared, he quickly stepped into a starting role and became 2024 quarterback prospect Drake Maye’s most popular target.

At this time, Walker’s best skill is his ability to make plays downfield. With 4.36-second speed, he gets vertical in a hurry, stacks the coverage, and uses his physicality to give him proper positioning. He tracks the ball as well as any prospect in this class and is an aggressive, go-up-and-get-it receiver with the ball in the air. There are still technical nuances to his game that need to be developed—which is why he is available at this spot—but it is still very early in his career and he has plenty of ceiling to grow into.

Trade: Lions acquire pick 120 from the Philadelphia Eagles

Parameters of the trade:

  • Lions acquire pick No. 120
  • Eagles acquire pick No. 205 and a fourth-round pick in 2025

The Lions don’t have a fourth-round pick in the 2024 draft, but they have two in 2025, courtesy of the trade that sent D’Andre Swift to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2023. In this scenario, I offered the PFF simulator picks 205 and the return of Eagles fourth-round pick in 2025 for pick No. 120.

Note: The simulator actually offered me a better deal, including using lower draft picks, but I tried to make this trade a bit more realistic, as opposed to taking advantage of the computer program.

Pick No. 120: Sione Vaki, S, Utah

Superpower: Will do whatever it takes to help the team better

Projections on Vaki are all over the map. PFF grades him as a borderline top 100 player, while sees him as a “bottom of the roster” player likely taken late on Day 3. The Draft Network also sees him as a late Day 3 option, while others, like the 33rd team, give him a middle of Day 3 grade.

So why did I trade into the fourth round to acquire a player most view as a mid-to-late Day 3 prospect? Simply put, this is where I see his value, and based on the Lions’ interactions with him—they met with him at the Combine and are bringing him in for a top 30 visit—I believe they’ll view him higher than the national consensus.

Vaki is an explosive athlete who fits the Lions like a glove, both schematically and mentally. Utah’s split-zone scheme has prepared him to have a short learning curve in transitioning to the Lions coverage scheme, he looks more comfortable in the box where he can trigger on his target, regardless of if it’s against the run or against tight ends in coverage. He is a sound tackler who makes sure he has his target lined up before committing and should be a Day 1 impact player on special teams.

He earned some notoriety this past season for playing both ways—in addition to safety, he stepped in at running back due to injuries in Utah’s backfield—which could further add to his range of skills on special teams, and illustrates his team-first mentality.

Based on rankings and write-ups, many view Vaki as a try-hard player who is limited in both experience and schematic range, but I actually see the opposite. I see Vaki as a versatile player who starts on special teams from the jump. While he may need to be used situationally on defense early in his career, he has the ability to make a Josh Metelus-like (Vikings defensive back) impact on defense with time to develop.

Pick No. 164: Javon Foster, OT, Missouri

Superpower: Marries length and power

Foster is a native of Detroit, a three-year starter at Missouri’s left tackle position, and a team captain. He has some experience at right tackle (two starts), and the developmental arc he has shown over his college career suggests he can be a swing tackle in the NFL with the upside to be more than just an OT3. He has shown nice production as both a pass blocker and run blocker but is currently more skilled in zone blocking than in gap. There are some technical issues that can be resolved through coaching, but there’s plenty of upside to grow and enough of a floor to fill a direct reserve role as a rookie.

Pick No. 201: Brennan Jackson, EDGE, Washington State

Superpower: Relentless motor

Jackson is a speed-to-power edge rusher who sets a strong edge and plays with a never-ending motor. He’ll enter the NFL with a lot of the skills the Lions look for already in place, but still has room—and needs—to develop further as a pass rusher. If he wants to be more than a depth player with some positional range—he can play with his hand in the dirt or from a standing position—he’ll need to develop his hand placement and incorporate more variance in his play speed/pass rush plan. The good news is that most of his limitations are coachable and he enters the league with a solid base to grow from.

Pick No. 249: Aaron Casey, LB, Indiana

Superpower: Special teams ACE

A physical downhill linebacker who could play in the league for a decade due to his ability to contribute on special teams. He has the instincts to weave through blocks to find his target and immediately stops the forward progress of the ball carrier when he makes contact. During this regime's tenure in Detroit, the Lions have kept six off-the-ball linebackers on their game-day roster, and while they retained five of those players from last season, there is an Anthony Pittman-sized hole that Casey could fill.

Erik Schlitt’s Detroit Lions 7-round mock draft, 2.0 (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Mr. See Jast

Last Updated:

Views: 5809

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (75 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Mr. See Jast

Birthday: 1999-07-30

Address: 8409 Megan Mountain, New Mathew, MT 44997-8193

Phone: +5023589614038

Job: Chief Executive

Hobby: Leather crafting, Flag Football, Candle making, Flying, Poi, Gunsmithing, Swimming

Introduction: My name is Mr. See Jast, I am a open, jolly, gorgeous, courageous, inexpensive, friendly, homely person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.