Mock Draft For The Detroit Lions Draft Based On Pro Day Analysis.
Pro days are wrapping up as we march toward the final stretch of the pre-draft process. By this stage, many teams have now finished the fact-finding stage of their selection process and are now going through the long task of finalizing their big boards. Identifying final targets is the last step in this trek and players are already being brought in for in-house workouts in order to help make the last of those difficult decisions.
With that said however this is also the period where people tend to experience the most mock draft fatigue. There’s little in the way of new information coming out and no real major signings left that could alter teams plans. That’s why we decided to spice things up in this second to the last edition of the DLP mock draft.
Here each writer was asked to make one draft trade that could benefit the Lions either in the top, middle, or the bottom of the draft. This will hopefully give fans not only an idea of some new targets to watch out for, but also an idea of some potential moves the Lions could make on draft day and what they could potentially expect to get in return.
With that Brandon Knapp and Ash Thompson are with me for this installment, so let’s jump into these potential Detroit mocks.
Round 1 (21)
Brandon: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
Ash: Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
Adam: *TRADE to #25 with HOU* Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut
Brandon’s selection is something Lions fans should be very familiar with by now. Haason Reddick has been talked about extensively as a first round target for Detroit ever since his elite showing at the Senior Bowl. Deandre Levy’s departure in March, combined with no real effort to target any of the free agent linebackers at the top of the market has done nothing but intensify that connection.
He’s extremely versatile and athletic, but he’s also extremely raw. He puts up phenomenal test scores that show up on the tape with sideline to sideline speed, elite coverage ability, and explosive blitzing skills. That said though he’s also in need of a fair bit of development both regarding positional play and technique. Reddick could turn out to be a phenomenal selection if available at 21 but he could also be one of the riskier options in the first round.
Moving on from risk to safe, Ash went with Forrest Lamp at 21 for Detroit. While this may seem like an odd move on its face, there’s a clear method to the madness. Lamp was a four-year starter at left tackle for Western Kentucky, however, his best fit in the NFL is left guard. Both very athletic and a technician, Lamp has taken a clear step ahead as the best interior offensive line option in this draft. In fact, there’s a serious argument to be made in a weak year for offensive line talent that he is the top of his class. Minus some minor technical adjustments in switching to a new position, he has no real points of concern against him.
With Bob Quinn investing extensively in the offensive line, Lamp could serve as the last piece of his puzzle, providing a potential day one pro bowl caliber upgrade over the steady if unspectacular Graham Glasgow. While it may not be Detroit’s biggest need, a move that takes them from having a really good offensive line to a top 5 unit without question is something worth consideration.
I ended up being the first to bite the bullet and made a trade with the Houston Texans to move down four spots in the first round. In return, Detroit received the Texans fourth round pick, number 130, and defensive lineman Christian Covington.
Houston among several other teams at the bottom of the draft will potentially be motivated to make a move for one of the top few quarterbacks should they fall. A variety of teams in the bottom third of the draft will be looking hard at finding an heir apparent, potentially fostering the perfect scenario for Detroit to move down early.
With that move down Detroit goes after a player they have been pining after for some time now, Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu. The only way you can describe Melifonwu is freaky. He’s a completely unheard of size for the position at 6’4, 224 lbs, and yet he ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any safety at the combine, a top five result among all defensive backs. Combined with first place positional results in both jumps and the shuttle and top ten finishes in the bench press and three cone, it’s quite clear athleticism is by no means an issue.
He’s arguably the single most versatile defensive player in this draft, able to play all positions in the secondary as well as nickel linebacker. With Glover Quin in the last year of his contract and Tavon Wilson being no better than average to this point, bringing in Melifonwu would be an absolutely game-changing immediate impact addition to the Lions defense.
The other player in the first part of the trade Christian Covington could help address a defensive tackle position in Detroit that’s somewhat in flux. Covington fell in the 2015 draft after having missed the entire 2014 season with a knee injury but has proven to have returned at 100% since then. The Canadian from Rice is a big powerful two gapper that can both be immensely disruptive and anchor the line depending on what he’s asked to do. He fits exactly what Detroit is looking for at the position and could instantly compete to be the primary rotational player from day one.
With the Texans already having plenty of defensive line talent and Covington more naturally fitting inside in the 4-3 anyways he’s a perfect guy for the Lions to get back for an immediate contribution in a trade down scenario. With continued growth and development, Covington has the potential to be an above average starter if he can refine his technique and footwork.
Round 2 (53)
Brandon: Kevin King, CB, Washington
Ash: Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
Adam: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio St
With the knowledge that a really strong corner will undoubtedly fall to Detroit in the second round, Brandon nabbed Kevin King as a new compliment opposite Darius Slay. King is one of the huge physical cornerbacks in this draft at 6’3 200 lbs. He’s extremely athletically gifted with top five positional combine scores in all tests except the bench, combined with some great instincts and ball-hawking ability. The concerns with King come however when you begin talking about his actual technique.
When he guesses wrong on a route he can have the potential to give up the big play and has the tendency to gamble more often against shifty smaller corners to make up for the difference in agility. In a press man heavy system like Detroit like’s to play, King has the potential to excels, however, he will be limited to a specific outside role and could disappoint if a team asks him to do something outside his comfort zone. Detroit would greatly benefit from another option at CB2 and he can excel in the system so the fit here is good.
The Lions most recent cornerback addition DJ Hayden is no more than a lottery ticket when it comes to a starting position due to health and performance concerns, and even if he doesn’t work out he has slot capability. Nevin Lawson while scrappy is somewhat limited by his small frame and only has a year left on his contract anyways. King can be the missing piece that solidifies the Lions secondary for years to come.
Ash decided to flip over to the defense in round two and tackle the pass rush with defensive end Carl Lawson. Lawson may not have the same flash as the others at the top of the defensive end group this year but he’s exactly the reliable workhorse Detroit could have fall into their laps in the second. He fills a prototypical edge setting role which the Lions currently have a bit of a need for, being able to stop the run and close the pocket in. With power and speed rushes, Lawson can also come at linemen multiple ways having an explosive first step that offers a nice change up.
The key going forward will be if he can stay healthy after facing knee and hip issues in 2014 and 2015, however if healthy he would be an immediate asset for a team desperately in need of pass rush. Lawson would compete for a starting role at LDE day one with last year’s standout Kerry Hyder and new addition Cornelius Washington. Worst case though he would be a key rotational piece in the beginning and work himself into the starting lineup.
Following an early trade that netted both a young defensive tackle and then a safety, I then hit the third level of the defense and addressed the linebacker position with Raekwon McMillan. One of the biggest trends in NFL defenses today is getting faster and more athletic at linebacker and McMillan has that in spades. He was the second fastest true linebacker at the combine, running a 4.61 forty yard dash and that speed shows up on his film.
This allows him to excel off the blitz, exploding through openings when provided, and catch nearly any player in open space to bring them down. With true sideline to sideline speed, he is ideally suited as a zone coverage linebacker on the strong side in a 4-3 scheme with the potential to move to the middle later on. The key to his future development will be growing his man coverage game as he is somewhat limited there, and especially getting off blocks in the run game.
If he can do that he’s a slam dunk here. Regardless, he is a great piece for Detroit’s defense due to what he can offer in space when the Lions are playing in two linebacker sets.
Round 3 (85)
Brandon: Tim Williams, DE, Alabama
Ash: Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia
Adam: Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio
At the end of day two, Brandon decided to take a chance on the much maligned Tim Williams to solidify the Lions defensive line. There’s no denying Williams talent, coming out of Alabama with nineteen and a half sacks and arguably the quickest get-off in college football. He’s the definition of a technician, able to win at the point of attack almost every way possible. On top of that, he’s got the quickness and coverage ability to drop back like a linebacker in space, great for Terryl Austin’s exotic look blitzes.
That being said though Williams also comes with a couple huge red flags. The most obvious of these is that he has major off field concerns, having failed multiple drug tests and was arrested this year for a misdemeanor gun charge after being found carrying without his permit. On top of this, he is extremely undersized to play 4-3 defensive end.
While he’s listed at 245 lbs, many scouts say he plays even lighter than that. Williams would need to add at least another fifteen pounds to play with his hand in the dirt and even then there would be concerns with how much speed and mobility he may lose. All of this creates an interesting dilemma for the Lions staff as Williams is a borderline top 15 talent that could be available 70 picks or so later but comes with all of this extra baggage and may not excel in their system. As Brandon puts it however his talent level might just be too good to pass up on that late.
The third round was Ash’s turn to address the secondary, and he chose to do that with cornerback Rasul Douglas. Douglas embodies almost everything the Lions look for in a cornerback: Big bodied, strong ball skills, and willingness to help out in run support. He works ideally in zone coverage with solid awareness, always looking to make a play. If the Lions are looking to continue a lot of their three deep zone looks from last year going forward, Douglas would fit beautifully into that scheme.
If not, however, he will have some issues with his bellow par athleticism and stiffness in covering more shifty receivers or elite downfield speedsters, meaning a probable transition to safety. Douglas would add value to the Lions defense regardless, however, should a transition be necessary as a future replacement option for Glover Quinn who’s now thirty-one and approaching the last year of his contract.
I decided to keep the ball rolling (to the delight of many who have been following these mocks I am sure) and continue to target the defense, this time with Ohio defensive end Tarell Basham. The ex-bobcat is rough around the edges to be sure but could offer the ideal piece as an edge setter in the Lions defense.
He produced strong numbers, leading the MAC conference in sacks for 2016 and never producing less than five sacks in a season his entire career. Basham as the name suggests physically dominates his opponent, able to effectively shut down the run as well as get to the quarterback. He could come in immediately as the first man off the bench for Detroit, slowly taking over more responsibility over the years. Basham projects to be a solid, blue collar type, a starter that can do a little bit of everything and eat up a bunch of snaps without tiring. If he can find a way to add polish to his pass rush technique however and add a few new moves the sky is the limit.