Detroit fans get opportunities every season to regret not drafting players that they see starring on other teams around the league.
I mean, think about all the times Lions fans have looked at their TV sets and lamented passing on quarterback Tom Brady, who was selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.
Who could also forget in 2014 when Detroit took a tight end Eric Ebron with the No. 7 overall pick in the first round, instead of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (who was selected two picks later)?
Then, there was last year when the Lions selected defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike (No. 41 overall) and the Cleveland Browns took linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah a few picks later (No. 52 overall).
Onwuzurike turned in a subpar season for Detroit, while Owusu-Koramoah was said to be Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded rookie last season.
Which three players will it be this year that Detroit regrets not drafting? Let’s take a look.
1.) Malik Willis, QB, Tennessee Titans
It makes no sense how Lions general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell can leave themselves so vulnerable at this position.
Starting QB Jared Goff is a rollercoaster, and backups Tim Boyle and David Blough have shown little-to-nothing when they’ve gotten their chance to play.
For my money, Willis will prove to be the most dynamic player taken in this draft. He has a cannon for an arm, and he runs like Michael Vick.
Already, Tennessee starter Ryan Tannehill is making statements that would seem to suggest he feels threatened by the arrival of Willis in the third round.
Willis would have been the most electrifying player in Detroit since Barry Sanders. Instead, the Lions, in classic Detroit style, reached for a defensive end in the second round (Josh Paschal).
Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs said the second-most important position on a football team is the backup QB. I guess Holmes and Campbell disagree.
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2.) Trey McBride, TE, Arizona Cardinals
Detroit could have given its offense a huge competitive, gameday advantage with McBride, who was taken by the Arizona Cardinals nine picks after Paschal.
Pairing TJ Hockenson with McBride would have given Detroit the best one-two punch at a tight end in the NFL, and it would have been a nightmare trying to defend the tandem.
McBride caught 90 passes last season for run-heavy Colorado State, and Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury could not wait to get him paired up with QB Kyler Murray.
3.) Myjai Sanders, DE, Arizona Cardinals
Sanders reminds me of my favorite defensive player of all-time, Dexter Manley.
Sanders was a pass-rushing demon off the edge for the No. 4-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats defense last season. He was all over the game film, bending the edge and disrupting the pocket.
The name of the game on defense in today’s game is getting to the QB and defending the pass. Sanders and Aidan Hutchinson coming off the edges in Detroit would have been next-to-impossible to deal with for every team on the Lions ’schedule.
To put Sanders’ dominance into further perspective, according to PFF, since 2019, Sanders had amassed 105 QB pressures and Hutchinson had accumulated 84.
There he sat on the board, but the Lions took safety Kerby Joseph instead, and the Cardinals took Sanders three picks later in the third round.
While nobody would argue with what Detroit did in the first round, the Lions will look back at the second and third rounds one day and realize they dropped the ball.