Lions Scout Breaks Down 2024 Draft Picks

Why Lions' sixth-round pick is one scout's favorite 2024 Draft pick.
Detroit Lions defensive lineman Mekhi Wingo (94) runs a drill during rookie minicamp at Detroit Lions headquarters and practice facility in Allen Park on Friday, May 10, 2024.
Detroit Lions defensive lineman Mekhi Wingo (94) runs a drill during rookie minicamp at Detroit Lions headquarters and practice facility in Allen Park on Friday, May 10, 2024. / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK
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The Detroit Lions received strong praise from their offseason work and performance in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Lions' general manager Brad Holmes stockpiled the team's talent pool at cornerback most notably, making several additions to a unit that struggled mightily last year.

One such player was first-round pick Terrion Arnold, who was viewed amongst the top cornerbacks on the board. Lions scout Patrick Mularkey explained the impact that Arnold is capable of having during a recent appearance on the 'Swartz Talkin' Sports' show hosted by Les Swartz.

“I think there’s just a lot to like about him as far as his skill set. Really good athlete, really good, quick, fluid feet," Mularkey said. "His pedal is really smooth, he can change direction, his transition is really good. There’s very little stall to it, it’s kind of an in and out, a lot of quickness. He’s explosive to close. The guy has got really good ball skills, he can find the play, he can play the ball. He’s aggressive playing through receivers for the PBU. The other thing we really like is that he tackles. This is becoming more of a perimeter game, not just in the passing game but in the run game. Corners have to be able to tackle more now than ever, and that’s something we felt Terrion did really well, was just tackle and support the run. Even with Ennis Rakestraw, the second round pick, we felt the same way about him. So very well-rounded, competitive, tough kids.” 

The addition points to a larger effort by the Lions to get deeper at cornerback after last year's struggles. Detroit didn't hesitate to try and get better at the position, as evidenced by their several additions.

The Lions ranked near the bottom of the league against the pass last year. When facing top receivers late in the season and throughout their playoff run, the Lions noticed the difficulties that they had in this area.

As a result, a noted effort was made to reboot the unit with hopes of success in 2024.

“I think it was no secret that that was an area that we had to address," Mularkey explained. "It was kind of a problem at the very end of the season and then led into the playoffs and it ultimately ended with our demise in the playoffs there. So we needed to address it. We did a good job in free agency too. We added Carlton Davis and Amik Robertson, so those were two good players, and then we got the two guys in the Draft which was huge for us. They were our top two corners on the board and they both fell to us. That went from a major weakness to a major strength for us, so it’s gonna be very competitive and fun to watch in camp.” 

Favorite 2024 Draft pick

Mularkey explained to the show's hosts that his favorite position to evaluate is the interior defensive line. Because of this, he spent plenty of time evaluating players such as Mekhi Wingo, whom the Lions picked in the sixth round.

The scout tabbed Wingo as his favorite pick because of the affinity he gained for the player while scouting a trio of LSU defensive tackles.

“My favorite player is probably the guy we just took, Mekhi Wingo. I had a lot of love for him, the way he played the game," Mularkey explained. "It’s funny, there was three LSU D-tackles that came out in the Draft this year. Both of them looked the part, as far as they were big, 6-5, 300-plus, but the best player of the three was Mekhi Wingo in my opinion. We got Mekhi in the sixth, and Mekhi does a lot of good things. The size was his biggest knock, I think that’s why he fell to the sixth, but he does a lot of good things that I think translate to our league and I think he’s gonna be a good player for us.” 

Another interesting player in the Lions' 2024 Draft class is offensive tackle Gio Manu, who comes to Motown by way of the University of British Columbia.

Mularkey explained the process of scouting the intriguing player as well as outlined the plan for what the Lions have in store for the lineman.

“He’s naturally just a massive human being. He’s got an interesting story. He’s Tongan, and he moved to Canada I think in high school, maybe earlier," Mularkey said. "He was a rugby player and they didn’t have rugby at the school, so they said, ‘Why don’t you try American football.’ I guess he went home and YouTube’d American football and the first thing he saw was like a Ray Lewis highlight tape. He watched that and he was instantly hooked, so he started playing football there. This kid has only been playing football for like two, three years max."

The Lions have one of the most talented offensive lines in the entire league, led by a pair of All-Pro caliber talents in Penei Sewell and Frank Ragnow.

Because the Lions have so much depth upfront, there is little pressure on Manu to be a instant starter. This benefits both parties, as the Lions can allow him to develop in a patient manner.

"He’s a really, really athletic kid, his Pro Day was awesome," Mularkey explained. "This guy’s a natural athlete for how big he is. I think he ran a 4.98, jumped 33.5 at 6-7, 360 pounds. He’s very raw, he’s gonna need some time to develop, but the skill set is there, he’s a great kid that wants it so we were ready to invest in a player like that. We view him as this big piece of clay that we can mold, we don’t have to break any bad habits or anything, we can just mold him the way we want. So he’s a couple years away, but if this kid hits his ceiling, we’re gonna hit big with him.”


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Christian Booher

CHRISTIAN BOOHER

Sports journalist who has covered the Detroit Lions the past three NFL seasons. Christian brings expert analysis, insights and an ability to fairly assess how the team is performing in a tough NFC North division.