In a year like this, I’m extremely open to who the Detroit Lions are going to take. It’s a very deep draft and I think there quite a few very good players. My ideal scenario would be to trade up for Sammy Watkins or to trade down, but if the Lions were to trade up for Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack, that would obviously be great.
When it comes to picking at #10, I’m okay with them taking Mike Evans (though he won’t be there), Anthony Barr, Aaron Donald (also likely won’t be there), HaHa Clinton-Dix, Justin Gilbert, Taylor Lewan, Zack Martin, Kyle Fuller, Jason Verrett or Odell Beckham Jr. Yes, it would be a bit of a reach for HaHa, Gilbert, Martin, or OBJ, but if that’s the guy they want and they can’t trade down, then I’m cool with it. Like I said, I’m pretty flexible since there are quite a few solid players available in this draft.
If they trade down, they can obviously take any of these guys and then add Darqueze Dennard and Ryan Shazier into the fold. Originally I was vehemently against the Lions taking a cornerback, but if Chris Houston’s foot injury is more serious than originally thought, drafting a corner early will be a necessity. At this point though, there are so many smokescreens and so much misdirection that you truly don’t know what a team is going to do.
Wanting Mike Evans is self-explanatory, as well as the other three that the Lions would have to trade up for. Aaron Donald would be a perfect replacement for Nick Fairley, assuming that once they drafted Donald that they would try to move Fairley. Anthony Barr would start over Ashlee Palmer and be a massive upgrade to the pass rush. Clinton-Dix gives you a safety of the future to groom and work into the lineup slowly. I don’t see Gilbert turning into the next Patrick Peterson, though he could be eventually and would definitely be a solid starter in a year or two. I’d prefer not to draft an offensive tackle, but if there isn’t a run on quarterbacks, and they can’t trade out, they may have to. It would at least give them a guy to groom for the future if they move Riley Reiff to guard. Martin’s versatility to play tackle, guard or even center, makes him a major asset and he’ll probably go higher than expected. I’d rather they wait on a cornerback or trade down and target Jason Verrett or Kyle Fuller. I think that Verrett and Fuller will be very good players in the NFL and if you can trade down and still fill a potential need, that’s a must. Darqueze Dennard is another target if they move down, given his height I’d prefer they wait for him (arbitrary I know, but I like tall corners), but he is a very solid cover corner. At the end of the day, I would prefer they trade down before drafting any of the corners, but could live with Gilbert and Dennard. Marqise Lee and Odell Beckham Jr. would be nice deep threats to compliment Calvin and Golden Tate. I’m a huge fan of Lee and his competitiveness and OBJ is a freak athletically. You may notice that I didn’t include Eric Ebron on this list and that’s because tight end is no longer a need in my mind. With the re-signing of Brandon Pettigrew and the presence of Joseph Fauria and Michael Williams on the roster, why take Ebron that early? Yes, he’s a good player and an athletic mismatch, but he’s not a great blocker and other effective tight ends will be available later.
When I look at the Lions I see few major needs. You need to upgrade the starting outside linebacker position, add another wide receiver, add depth at safety and corner, add a future center, and depth on the defensive line. Realistically, the Lions aren’t too far away from being ready to get back into the playoffs. They truly don’t have as many holes as people say. Outside linebacker and wide receiver should be their two biggest priorities, with the secondary defensive line following closely.
Quarterback and running back are clearly solidified positions. The Lions do need to draft a backup quarterback if they don’t want to go into the season with only Dan Orlovsky and Kellen Moore as the backups. Running back is solid with Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, as well as Theo Riddick and Steven Miller in the pipeline. Mikel Leshoure is on his way out and I wouldn’t mind drafting an explosive runningback like De’Anthony Thomas late in the draft for depth, but again, not a pressing need by any means.
The offensive tackle spot is very solid. Riley Reiff and La’Adrian Waddle are a legit starting tandem. It’s possible that the Lions will move Reiff in to guard next year and let Rob Sims walk, but their offensive line for next year is solid. They will need a future center to replace Dominic Raiola, and it wouldn’t shock me if they drafted an offensive tackle to develop to move Reiff inside. Regardless of the plan for the future, offensive line is not an immediate issue. Finding Larry Warford in the third round and getting Waddle as an undrafted free agent starter at right tackle were absolute gifts and gave them a strong offensive line.
Wide receiver is an issue for me. Yes, they signed Golden Tate. But Ryan Broyles is not back to full-health yet, and I don’t want Kris Durham to be the third wide receiver again. If Tate or Calvin Johnson were to get hurt, there is no depth at the position. Drafting a receiver in the first three rounds is an absolute must. I would obviously prefer Sammy Watkins, but drafting a guy like Allen Robinson, Jordan Matthews or Donte Moncrief in the second round or Martavis Bryant in the third round would work out quite nicely..
Tight end is an interesting position. I’m not a fan of Brandon Pettigrew, but they just re-upped his contract. The Lions also have Joseph Fauria, who is a terrific red zone threat, and could develop into more given the opportunity. Michael Williams is going to be primarily a blocking tight end, if he makes the roster. Drafting a tight end later would be a good idea, but I’m not an advocate for taking a guy in the first three rounds.
Defensive line is an interesting position. With the uncertainty of Nick Fairley’s future and the loss of Willie Young, drafting a defensive end is a necessity and drafting a young defensive tackle to potentially replace Fairley will also be important. Ziggy Ansah and Devin Taylor had very good rookie seasons and Jason Jones returning from injury will be huge, but there still is a need for some depth.
The linebacker situation is the most glaring position of need. Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy are very solid starters and have solidified spots on the roster, but Ashlee Palmer is in need of an upgrade. They need to improve the pass rush and there are quite a few guys that could do it. Anthony Barr would be an instant impact on the roster, and so would Khalil Mack if they managed to trade up for him.
The cornerback situation was once thought to be solidified, but apparently may not be. They’ve spent a lot of high picks on cornerbacks recently (Bill Bentley and Darius Slay), but apparently Chris Houston’s foot injury may be worse than originally thought. I’ve heard whispers that it could be career ending, which would clearly make cornerback immediately the #1 need on the roster. If Houston is going to be healthy, obviously you don’t pick a corner in round 1, especially because it takes so long for cornerbacks to develop and adjust. It’s a young group and given more time with the vets like Rashean Mathis, I think they can improve. You don’t want to give up on the young guys so quickly. The Lions safety position could use some depth, but the signing of James Ihedigbo to put with Glover Quin will give them a solid starting pair. Adding a young safety though, would be a real nice touch for the future.
Kicker is obviously a massive need, but I would rather they take an undrafted player than spend a pick on a kicker. Then again, a kicker at least puts up points on the board, so if they wanted to take Cairo Santos in the 6th or 7th round, I’d be okay with it. Just no drafting punters. Ever again. Ever.
Without further adieu, here’s my 7 round Mock Draft. The first choice will be listed next to the round and the number of the pick and my 2nd and 3rd choices will be listed in italics underneath. Again, I’m pretty open this year to who they take and who knows who will actually be available when it comes time for them to pick, some of the guys I’ve got listed could go earlier than I have them listed and not even be there for the Lions. I tried to pick only one player per position for each round, so I don’t list three wide receivers for the second round or three defensive ends in the third, etc.
1st Round, 10th Overall: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama or Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
2nd Round, 45th Overall: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Marcus Martin, OC, USC or Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
3rd Round, 76th Overall: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson or DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
4th Round, 111th Overall: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB, Boston College or Billy Turner, OT/OG, North Dakota State
4th Round, 133rd Overall: Travis Swanson, OC, Arkansas
Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU or Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas
4th Round, 136th Overall: Antone Exum, CB/S, Virginia Tech
Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma or Crockett Gilmore, TE, Colorado State
6th Round, 189th Overall: De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan or Bryan Stork, OC, FSU
7th Round, 227th Overall: Khyri Thornton, DT, Southern Miss
Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State or Cairo Santos, K, Tulane
Just a reminder that the NFL Draft process can be pretty dumb:
Some recent notes on the Detroit Lions:
Related: 2014 NFL Draft Mock Draft
Related: 2014 NFL Combine Winners and Losers
Related: 2014 NFL Combine Day 1 Recap
Related: 2014 NFL Combine Day 2 Recap
Related: 2014 NFL Combine Day 3 Recap
Related: 2014 NFL Combine Day 4 Recap