2012 NFL Mock Draft: 5 First Round Prospects for the Detroit Lions
When attempting to project Detroit’s possible draft position, I had to entertain the thought that the Lions could end up representing the National Football Conference in Super Bowl XLVI. In doing so they will have been locked into the 32nd pick overall.
Now I’m as big a Lions fan as the next Motown fanatic, but the reality is that Detroit’s season could end tonight in New Orleans.
However, if the Lions defeat the Saints in tonight’s Wild Card game, I believe that there is a good chance that Detroit goes to San Francisco and defeats the 49ers in what would be a highly anticipated rematch.
So, how would that affect Detroit’s opportunity to land a blue-chip prospect in the first round?
The 2012 NFL draft is loaded with talent relevant to Detroit’s “needs,” so I’m not going to place much emphasis on the teams exact draft position. Considering the exceptional job Martin Mayhew and Co. have done evaluating talent, I am fairly confident that the Lions will come away with the best value for their pick in Day 1.
High-Mid Round Talent That Could Fall to Detroit
Kyle Vanden Bosch isn't getting any younger, Courtney Upshaw is an NFL ready OLB/DE.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Detroit was absolutely thrilled to see former Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley fall to them at 13th overall in the 2011 NFL draft. When healthy, Fairley is an absolute animal and has the prototypical skill set required to flourish in a Jim Schwartz 4-3 defense.
Though Detroit had already drafted defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh second overall in the 2010 NFL draft, the Lions didn't hesitate to select Fairley, bolstering an already strong defensive line.
The Martin Mayhew regime places significant emphasis on drafting the best player available, so for me to see the Lions go DT in the first round of consecutive draft was no surprise to me at all.
Could Detroit have another gem fall into their laps in 2012?
That remains to be seen.
Here are three high-mid round prospects that could potentially fall to Detroit at 26-plus.
Defensive Back Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama
Offensive Guard David DeCastro, Stanford
Defensive End/Outside Linebacker Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
Alfonzo Dennard, right #15.
Eric Francis/Getty Images
Position: Defensive Back
Weight: 205 Lbs.
Pre-Combine 40: 4.45
Alfonzo Dennard is a defensive back with game-changing ability.
He has shown the ability to successfully play within himself in both man and zone coverage during his time at Nebraska, something that the Lions defensive secondary has struggled with at times in 2011.
He is a virtual plug-and-play option for the Lions with shut down potential.
Unfortunately, there is a distinct possibility that he’s gone when Detroit goes on the clock.
Morris Claiborne and Dre Kirkpatrick are 2012’s cream of the crop at defensive back. I see Claiborne going in the top five-to-seven range, but if Kirkpatrick falls into the 10-to-20 range, Dennard could be available to the Lions.
Cordy Glenn, far left #71.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Weight: 330 Lbs.
Pre-Combine 40: 5.28
Yes, that is Georgia's Matthew Stafford pictured above back in 2008, but look closely and you'll see then-true freshman starting guard Cordy Glenn. When Glenn wasn't busy setting the pocket for Stafford back in '08, he was opening holes for All-American running back Knowshon Moreno.
He started 10 games his freshman season en route to earning freshman All-American honors.
He was also a member of the 2010 football All-America team.
But, more importantly, Glenn has shown the aptitude to proficiently play both the guard and tackle position throughout his time at Georgia—something that carries a significant amount of weight when addressing potential weaknesses on Detroit's offensive line.
It's Glenn’s ability to correctly utilize his strength and reach what has made him dominant in the NCAA, but couple that with the quick feet he showed in 2011, and watch out.
Unfortunately Glenn is only a junior and as of right now has not officially declared for the NFL draft. If he does declare, you can be sure that he'll be taken in the first round.
Peter Konz, center #66.
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Weight: 315 Lbs.
Pre-Combine 40: 5.58
Peter Konz is considered the best center prospect in the 2012 NFL draft.
All this kid does is play against the best of the best, week in and week out. He has successfully handled Penn State’s Devin Still, Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy and Nebraska’s Jared Crick, some of 2012’s elite defensive tackle draft prospects.
Current Wisconsin running back and Heisman Trophy candidate Montee Ball is quick to thank Konz and his offensive linemen for his 1,923-yard, 33-touchdown junior season.
Though Ball didn’t declare for the 2012 draft, Konz did, and he should reap the benefits in the form of a first-round selection.
He is an immediate upgrade over Dominic Raiola, who is now 33 years old and will make close to $4 million next year.
Zach Brown, left #47
Geoff Burke/Getty Images
School: North Carolina
Position: Outside Linebacker
Weight: 230 Lbs.
Pre-Combine 40: 4.41
Zach Brown is in my opinion the best outside linebacker in the entire nation. All he does is make plays when lined up outside in the 4-3.
Though there are some maturity concerns, Brown’s draft stock shouldn’t be affected.
It’s not very often you find a 6’4", 230-pound linebacker with the speed to cover Andre Johnson.
Seriously, Brown can do it all.
He's a STEAL at the end of the first round.
Chase Minnifield, left #13.
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
Position: Defensive Back
Weight: 185 Lbs.
Pre-Combine 40: 4.46
Some would argue the selection of Minnifield in the first round; I am not one of those people.
Chase has had an Nndamdi Asomugha impact for the Cavaliers this season, as teams have just elected to throw away from him.
He has blanket coverage ability and has shown a propensity to make plays on special teams.
Minnifield’s ability to play physical translates well at the next level.