Grading the Detroit Lions’ selection of Mekhi Wingo

Grading the Detroit Lions’ selection of LSU DT Mekhi Wingo in the 2024 NFL Draft.

5 things to know about LSU's Mekhi Wingo, the Lions' sixth-round pick -

The Detroit Lions have been so used to drafting higher in the draft, that general manager Brad Holmes has been tired of waiting for his pick to be on the clock. In what was the team’s third trade on Day 3 of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Lions traded with the Houston Texans to select defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo from LSU. The Lions gave up their sixth-round pick (205), and their seventh-round pick (249) to acquire pick 189 and select Wingo with it.

The defense is back on the board here after back-to-back offensive picks as the Lions get a defensive tackle to give them another body on the interior to get to the quarterback. While Wingo can play anywhere on the defensive line, he fits better as a defensive tackle.

In his college career, Wingo was a second-team All SEC and third team All American in 2022. Playing at Missouri and LSU for a total of three seasons, Wingo finished with 98 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, four pass deflections, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, and an interception returned for a touchdown.

Wingo also wore number 18 and that number has a special meaning at LSU because the team gives it to the player who best fits the traits the team stands for. Obviously, he’ll bring the type of character the Lions require and will leave his ego at the door.

Wingo suffered an injury that forced him to miss time last season, but he decided to come back and play in his team’s bowl game. In the era of players opting out of bowl games, Wingo broke convention, because he was sick of watching his team lose from the sidelines.

According to PFF, Wingo was tied for 48th-ranked defensive lineman who played 20 percent of snaps in 2023 with a defensive grade of 77.6. While Wingo is a stronger run defender than pass rusher, the skill difference between the two isn’t massive: he had a 75 rush defense grade and a 73.3 pass rush grade. While he is known for getting to the quarterback and taking down the ball carrier, he has some hands to him as well.

The Lions needed some help on the defensive line, and while it wasn’t at the edge spot—where the team needed more help, in my opinion—a defensive tackle was still needed to sit behind Alim McNeill and DJ Reader and to compete with Brodric Martin for the third string job. Wingo has a strong chance of being the backup defensive tackle as Martin is more of a nose tackle and Wingo can be used as either a pass-rushing or run defending defensive tackle.

The trade that was made for this pick was a good trade. Losing a seventh-round pick isn’t the end of the world to just move up from 205 to 189 so it was a great value to move up and get a player who shouldn’t have fallen this far. Wingo was on Dane Brugler’s The Beast in his top-100 players in the draft, and to get a top-100 player before the 200s hit is an absolute steal and something the Lions should be happy about getting. This team loves the trenches and they got someone on the other side now with this pick.

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