Mock Draft For The Fourth Thru Final Round For The Detroit Lions.
Continuing on from days 1 and 2 of the draft, day three expects to be majorly important for Detroit who will be looking to target a number of key role players. The right moves made this day can be just enough to push a team over the hump to their next goal. Especially if trades are factored in, day three will become a crucial period for Detroit and we will see action from trades in all three scenarios in part two. As always if you want to just see the results, check out the full list of picks in the table at the bottom. With that let’s rejoin the action and see how the Lions finish off these draft scenarios.
Round 4 (127)
Brandon: Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan Moving into round four, Brandon targeted a key position group that few fans have been thinking of as a major need in Detroit, wide receiver. Specifically, he ended up targeting Amara Darboh, the high potential receiver out of Michigan. Coming into last year Darboh was more of an afterthought behind his more prominent teammates, however, his 6’2 frame and 4.45 speed have sent him flying up boards. He’s got a wide target radius with abnormally long arms, smooth route running ability, and is a quick study which should allow the team who ends up taking him to open up his expected route tree a lot quicker than many rookies. While he’s not an amazing YAC player and tends to get caught up in the first tackle attempt, he could serve as a great medium to long range option if he can work on his hands a little more. If the Lions are looking for more of an outside deep threat option to pair opposite Marvin Jones as opposed to an Anquan Boldin replacement Darboh could be an excellent option and in the mid-late fourth round, he’s a steal when regarding pure value.
Ash: Jake Butt, TE, Michigan Ash ended up being the first to target the tight end position, having Jake Butt fall to him in the late fourth. Butt had been talked up substantially through the season as one of the better tight ends in a very deep group, however, in his bowl game, he tore his ACL causing his draft stock to suffer a little bit. While he should be fine going forward and the beginning of his rookie season is somewhat in question, a major injury heading into the draft is always a concern and it has prevented him from going through workouts that could have helped his stock. Butt is phenomenal in the receiving portion of his game, working defensive players like a pro in short and intermediate routes. He’s a no-nonsense player willing to go through the middle and make tough catches without having the ball dislodged. He may not have the vertical speed to expose gaps in deep coverage, but he can be relied on to make the tough catch on third down to move the chains. The major issue with Butt at this point is his poor blocking skill and that will need to be resolved at the next level. He’s an inline tight end and if you can’t block as that type of player no matter how talented you are in the receiving category you’re going to have a tough time getting on the field. If he can improve that though to at least average standards he has the ability to be a solid pro with starting potential. Detroit could be an ideal landing spot for Butt, being able to play just down the road from his old home with absolutely no pressure to contribute day one.
Adam: Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming I finally ended my run on defense by being the first one to target a running back, namely Brian Hill from Wyoming. While the Lions have been linked to a ton of power runners in this draft, Brian Hill has fallen under the radar a bit despite being one of the better options at that position. Hill is a big powerful guy that excels at beating teams through bruising no-nonsense runs up the gut. Based on his huge college workload, however, he offers a diversity to his resume, able to play respectably as a receiver, play with a little wiggle to evade instead of plow if necessary and stay home to protect as a pass blocker. With that said, however, as more of a jack of all trades type there is concern he will not have the same effectiveness between the tackles as other more power specific role players. When you watch his film, however, you can clearly see he can move the pile at 6’1 220 lbs and should have little difficulty in short yardage situations if he can continue his play in the NFL. Hill could be potentially the most natural fit for the Lions offense of any of the upper-end power backs, coming from a zone running system with the versatility to do many of the things the Lions ask of runners in their playbook. His addition could offer both a very strong role player that fills a massive need for Detroit, as well as a potential lead back option should Abdullah continue to be bitten by the injury bug.
Round 4 (136/130)
Brandon: *TRADE to #136 with Atlanta* Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo The end of round four is where Brandon decided to make his move, trading back into the fourth round with Atlanta. He moved the Lions 5th and 6th round picks, 165 and 205 overall, for the 136th selection in order to nab a falling Kareem Hunt for the Lions backfield. Hunt shares a lot of similarities to Brian Hill in what makes him an attractive addition for Detroit. They both fit the zone running scheme well, have a primary power game but also offer some elusiveness, and can contribute to the passing attack. The one negative with Hunt however that’s started to slide him down boards a bit is some indecisiveness on rushes between the tackles. He occasionally tries to get a little cute around the line, looking for a big break as opposed to just plowing forward to pick up the necessary yardage. If the Lions think they’re looking for Ameer Abdullah insurance with more of an every down back then this is a manageable concern. If they are looking for more of a role playing power back/short yardage player, however, this will definitely be discussed in depth prior to the selection as a significant concern. Overall though regardless of any associated concerns the late 4th is unquestionably phenomenal value for Hunt and worth the selection. If the Lions see a guy of that talent level fall in a very dense middle of the draft, don’t be surprised to see them trade up early on day three to snag them.
Adam: Brian Allen, CB, Utah The fourth rounder gained from my earlier trade with the Houston Texans plays out here in the form of cornerback Brian Allen. A converted wide receiver, Allen has a massive frame for the position at 6’3 215 lbs. Combined with a 4.48 40 time and a blazing 6.64 three-cone drill, he clearly matches that size with rare speed and athleticism that shows up in his film, making for a unique prospect. He loves to get physical with opposing receivers and backed up that strength with an impressive 15 reps on the bench press. Allen is still raw at the position, needing work to fix his tackling, improve on locating the ball in coverage, and to better read receivers routes so he doesn’t get lost in coverage. The good news with that though is those areas are exactly what Terryl Austin and the Lions defensive staff are tailor made to correct. Allen’s size and athletic profile are like something out of the defensive coordinator’s fever dream for what he is looking for in an outside CB2 complement to Darius Slay. If they can manage to coach Allen up and correct some of his aforementioned flaws, Allen could be a phenomenal secondary starting option at a shocking discount.
Round 5 (165)
Ash: Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M In the fifth round Ash and I targeted two different receivers to fill the current void in the roster, while Brandon took the round off after trading his selection away. Ash’s target was Texas A&M stand out Josh Reynolds. Reynolds is an ultimate deep threat and red zone option that would help stretch the field for Mathew Stafford and provide an element that could blow the top off a defense at any given opportunity. If you’re looking for evidence of this look no further then his 6’3, 200 lb frame, and 4.5 forty speed. He’s great at tracking the ball in the air and has very reliable hands that can haul it in. Reynolds combines those traits with a strong leaping ability that can bring down contested catches and a physicality seen in his willingness to go across the middle and his blocking. The reason he may fall this low is because he’s a bit of a one trick pony as a deep threat. He lacks the functional strength for a role as a possession receiver and with a long somewhat gangly frame lacks the shiftiness to do much in the slot. That said however he provides an element the Lions do not currently have and could quickly develop a Taylor Gabriel like role in Detroit’s passing attack.
Adam: Josh Malone, WR, Tennessee I decided to go a different direction, instead targeting Tennessee wide receiver Josh Malone. A very similar player to Reynolds, Malone is another pure deep threat with strong tracking and leaping ability, good hands, and the ability and willingness to block. Where they differ is while Reynolds is a bit more polished and ready to contribute year one, Malone is a little raw with a higher ceiling. He has shown off blazing 4.4 speed good for third best among combine receivers and plays to that speed on tape. That said though he also can struggle in press coverage due to poor hand usage and hasn’t refined his route tree yet limiting what he can do in an offense effectively. That said, Malone is still quite young as a true junior and can grow with more coaching. I believe with time he has the potential to expand into a more versatile player than Reynolds and in the short term, his greater speed can make him that much more effective at stretching the field for Detroit. He also is potentially a slightly better fit due to his abilities after the catch, contributing to the Lions YAC attack.
Round 6 (205)
Ash: Michael Roberts, TE, Toledo Ash made the bold move to take a second tight end in round six, selecting Michael Roberts. Roberts essentially is a younger version of Darren Fells with a little less to offer in the blocking game but a little more to offer in the receiving game. He’s an extremely competent inline blocker in the run game although he could use a little more work with pass blocking as many young tight ends do. As for the receiving game he’s an experienced red zone target that can operate very well as a quarterback’s security blanket check down option. While it may seem odd to take multiple tight ends, Ash factored in the incredible value these players would be had at combined with the potential situation that both Ebron and Fells could easily be off the roster in 2018. These moves help to completely revive a position group that was almost hands down the Lions weakest last season.
Adam: Josh Dobbs, QB, Tennessee The Lions have been eyeing Josh Dobbs for some time now and after bringing in Josh Malone the previous round it just seemed right to bring Dobbs along as well. There has been a lot of debate regarding whether the Lions should invest in a quarterback after taking Ruddock last year and having a franchise player in Stafford. Bob Quinn put it best however when he said “it’s just good football business” to do so. If you’re looking for a guy then to fill that hole in your draft there’s no more obvious choice then Josh Dobbs. The Lions have had four different visits with him at this point and witnessed several of his workouts. He has all the tools to be a solid quarterback at the next level including intriguing running skills except one major flaw: consistency. He has some issues with his footwork and throwing motion that have impacted his accuracy that needs to be corrected. If those traits can be coached out of him he is more then capable of being a potential low to mid end starting option or high-end backup and with that comes a considerable future price tag Detroit could cash in on. If he were to last until the Lions pick in the sixth round Detroit would run in the card as a slam dunk selection.
Round 6 (215)
Brandon: Cooper Rush, QB, Central Michigan Brandon also decided to go with a quarterback in his first selection back from the trade. Cooper Rush is a local product that has caught the eye of the Lions staff somewhat as well. He’s probably got the highest football IQ of any quarterback in this class, able to adjust to any situation on the fly and make the right call. Rush is accurate, has strong technique, and works the pro style offense like he’s a three-year pro. That said his physical limitations will either push him way down some teams boards or eliminate him from them entirely. Rush is very limited athletically, incapable of escaping the pocket if the need arises, and has extremely limited arm strength, taking away a large amount of his effective range at the NFL level. That will limit his ceiling to an effective backup option, however, if Detroit views Rudock as the tradable commodity then they could see Rush as their long term QB2 behind Stafford. In that role, he’s a solid selection for the end of the 6th round especially considering if he does reach quality backup status and the Lions lose him they will receive a substantial comp pick in return.
Ash: Tarik Cohen, RB, North Carolina A&T Our favorite late players round continued on with Ash selecting a guy he absolutely loves, explosive kick returner Tarik Cohen. The dynamic runner nicknamed the human joystick, Cohen is capable of making absolutely ridiculous moves with the ball in his hands. If he’s given even the smallest bit of space, Cohen can work his way out of any spot, maneuvering himself through bodies with the speed to pull away through a lane. That said he’s also absolutely tiny at a mere 5’6, 180 lbs soaking wet. This makes it unclear as to what exactly he will be at the next level. While many view him as a young Darren Sproles, he may be more of a slot-receiving based hybrid back like Theo Riddick. Where Ash thinks his role truly lies is more on special teams, however. He would be in the running as one of the most exciting return men in the game day one, able to take any kick to the house despite new rule changes. That potential alone is worth a shot with a late sixth round selection.
Adam: Antony Auclair, TE, Laval (CAN) My guilty pleasure late round player showed up as well in this round, Canadian Antony Auclair. Auclair dominated his much weaker competition in Canadian university football and backed up his tape with a nice performance at the East-West Shrine Game. At 6’6 255 lbs, with freakish athleticism, he’s above prototypical size and moves very fluidly with nice hands. He also has experience operating in a variety of stances, from H-back to Y-receiver, to a traditional in line look. On top of that his blocking isn’t half bad for a rookie, making up for what he lacks in technique with power and attitude. Auclair is going to be a little rough around the edges however, he has one of the highest ceilings of any tight end in this class. The Lions still have a clear need at depth tight end and Auclair would be a perfect add to the TE3 spot. He could sit and learn for a year working some special teams duty and step into the lineup the following year should either Ebron or Fells not return.
Round 7 (250)
Brandon: Jordan Sterns, S, Oklahoma St To end things off Brandon’s selection of Jordan Sterns provides the Lions safety position with some depth. Sterns is a traditional box safety, so he doesn’t offer much in coverage, however, he’s a high character player that can contribute strongly on special teams. He can essentially be the next Don Carey for the Lions at his ceiling as a special teams leader that you love to have yet never wanted to see play defense. Sterns can ideally be relied upon to bring down return men with regularity and be a tough blocker on gunners.
Ash: *TRADE with CLE* Josh Gordon, WR, Browns Ash decided with his late round selection to make the last trade of the mock and reel in Josh Gordon from the Cleveland Browns. While Gordon still has to face reinstatement and comes with his immense share of baggage, he would be an extremely low risk, extremely high reward target at the price of an end of the seventh round pick. Everyone knows what Gordon is capable of as a receiver, and should he return to form for Detroit the Lions would have hands down the best receiving corps in the league under very reasonable contracts for the next several years. With all the trials and tribulations Cleveland has gone through they would be happy to get out from under the major headache Gordon has been and get at least something in return. Meanwhile, the Lions could undercut the massive competition they would have to face should he be released onto the open market for essentially a throwaway selection. Gaining a pro bowl caliber player on a rookie contract would be massive should a change of scenery do the trick.
Adam: Storm Norton, OT, Toledo Last but not least tackle may not be seen as a significant need for Detroit but if this guy is there it’s certainly worth consideration. Storm Norton is an absolute mountain of a man at 6’8, 315 lbs and he moves extremely well for his size. He’s extremely raw with a clear need to add plenty of muscle in the core and upper body, and poor form from playing in a two-point stance at Toledo. That said, he has all the attributes to be something special in a few years time. He could take Cornelius Lucas’s spot at the bottom of the tackle depth chart or even the practice squad and just develop for a few years. In that time he very well could develop into a starting caliber player that could either step in at the end of a starter’s contract, be a solid swing tackle for a couple years, or be picked up by another team giving the Lions an upgraded comp pick a few years down the road.
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