7 NFL Draft Prospects Lions Should Watch in 2024 (2024)

The Detroit Lions have their sights set on a deep playoff run in 2024.

Detroit's success in 2023, which ended with a loss in the NFC Championship, has generated plenty of positive momentum for the team's future. However, if they continue to succeed, they will carve out a spot picking at the end of the first round of the NFL Draft.

While the 2024 campaign is yet to begin, it's always worth looking ahead at the potential crop of players who could join the Lions in 2025.

Here are seven prospects worth monitoring when the college football season begins later in the fall.

Ohio State EDGE J.T. Tuimoloau

Last season, Tuimoloau was a player viewed as a good fit for the Lions' pass-rush ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft. However, he elected to stay in school and as such could be a first-round target for Detroit in the 2025 Draft.

The rusher has an array of moves to attack opponents, and uses his long arms and physical frame to also get in passing lanes and make an impact in other ways. He has 11 career sacks and 22 tackles for loss, and is tabbed for a huge final season with the Buckeyes.

Ohio State will have two solid pass-rush options, in Tuimoloau and teammate Jack Sawyer. With a revamped secondary as well, the Buckeyes are well positioned for success in 2024.

Arkansas OT Fernando Carmona

The Lions' offensive line is one of the best in the league, but the key components of it aren't getting any younger. With the hefty extension given to Penei Sewell this offseason, it could be tough for the team to retain veteran Taylor Decker.

Detroit drafted British Columbia tackle Giovanni Manu in the fourth round of this year's draft, but the prospect likely needs time to develop. If the organization wants a more ready prospect, Carmona fits that build as a reliable run-blocker.

Carmona is tough and plays fearless, making him an ideal fit for the Lions' style.

Florida EDGE Princely Umanmielen

One of the bigger risers in the later stages of last season was Umanmielen, who had a strong finish to the 2023 campaign. He ended the year with seven sacks, and was efficient in getting after opposing quarterbacks.

Umanmielen led the Gators in pressures with 45 last year and had a Pro Football Focus pass-rush grade of 89.4. He has the feel of a player who could rapidly ascend Draft boards in 2024.

Had he entered the Draft after last season, he may have ended up as a mid-round pick. However, he has plenty of potential and could wind up being a first-round choice with another strong season.

Oklahoma WR Nic Anderson

Anderson has intriguing potential to go with big-time size. A physical wideout, he measures 6-foot-4 and fits a need within the Lions wide receiver corps. With Josh Reynolds off to the Denver Broncos, the Lions are lacking an established big-bodied wideout.

Now, they do have options currently on roster who could be in position to fill that void such as Donovan Peoples-Jones. However, if this remains a need a player like Anderson could be the perfect fit.

The Oklahoma product had 38 catches for 798 yards and 10 scores last year. With quarterback Dillon Gabriel off to Oregon, Anderson will have to develop chemistry with starter Jackson Arnold as the Sooners make the move to the SEC this year.

Michigan DT Kenneth Grant

Grant may not get the overall shine that teammate Mason Graham does, but he's an exciting prospect nonetheless. Graham is expected to be one of the first defenders off the Draft board at this present juncture, but Grant has a different skill set that should intrigue scouts.

There is a serious blend of size and speed within this player. He had 23 pressures working on the defensive interior last year, showcasing strong get-off at the line of scrimmage and a physicality to fend off opposing blockers.

The Wolverines used Grant in multiple ways, as he played snaps at multiple techniques including as a nose tackle. The Lions have options on the defensive interior currently, but Alim McNeill is set to be a free agent after this season and Detroit could be in the market for another talented young addition.

Iowa S Xavier Nwankpa

Several big-time talents have come out of Iowa's defense lately, including cornerback Cooper DeJean last year. This time around, Nwankpa is a candidate to be a first-round talent. With as good as Iowa's defense was last year, he was the team's third-highest graded defender by PFF.

He was solid in coverage last season, along with being a reliable tackler for the Hawkeyes. Still, the most intriguing trait he has is his ability to play all over the defense. Last year alone, he played 235 snaps at safety, 357 snaps in the box and another 243 in the slot.

With this versatility, Nwankpa will be an asset wherever he lands at the next level. He could take another big step forward by being more of a turnover threat, as he has just two interceptions in his first two collegiate seasons.

Georgia G Tate Ratledge

Another interesting element of the Lions' offensive line situation are the two veteran guards. Graham Glasgow appears to be part of the team's long-term plans after signing a three-year deal, and fellow veteran Kevin Zeitler was inked to a one-year deal after Jonah Jackson departed.

Detroit also drafted a young guard in Christian Mahogany this past year. If the team elects to go back to the well of interior offensive linemen, Ratledge could fit that bill. A starter each of the past two years, he has carved out a nice reputation as a gritty player who excels particularly in pass-protection.

Last year for the Bulldogs, Ratledge allowed just five total pressures and no sacks. Over his two seasons as a starter, he has surrendered just one sack.

7 NFL Draft Prospects Lions Should Watch in 2024 (2024)
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