Detroit Lions 2012 Mock Draft: What Experts Around the Web Are Saying
Last week, I did a review of Matt Miller's post-combine mock draft.
Everyone seemed to like it, and it made me feel important. So the theme this week? Analyze all the experts!
Alright, maybe not all the experts. But I will take a look at heavy-hitters like Mel Kiper, Pat Kirwan and the lot of mock drafts on CBSSports.com and NFL.com, as well as some major draft-centered websites like Drafttek and Walter Football.
Through all that, we should get a pretty good idea of what the experts are thinking, at least in the first round. I will discuss later rounds as much as I can, but the vast majority of these things are only talking about the first round.
Makes sense, because let's face it: the vast majority of the draft-loving public only pays attention to the first round. Besides, only mocking one round is less work, and that gives these guys a whole lot less opportunity to be wrong.
Of course, whether they're right or not remains to be seen. And I may not be either, but I'm at least going to take my opportunity to criticize them before we all get proven wrong.
Rule 1: Cornerback in the First Round
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This is easily the most consistent pick across every mock draft.
Opinions differ on which cornerback the Lions should take (Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina and Janoris Jenkins of Florida/North Alabama are the most popular picks), but Kiper, Kirwan, Walter Football and CBS Sports all have the Lions taking a cornerback at 23.
This makes sense, considering the Lions' difficulty stopping the pass late last season.
That said, this is a classic case of overreacting to immediate perceived need. Yeah, the Lions gave up a ton of yards through the air late in the season, but they gave most of them up to the Packers and Saints, and a good portion of them can be attributed more to weak safety play.
Now, don't get me wrong, I do believe the Lions need an upgrade in the secondary, especially considering the impending loss of Eric Wright. But people get after Aaron Berry like they forget he plays the most difficult position in football and was in his first actual season on the field.
The point is, the Lions have some developing talent at defensive back and a number of players on the roster now who could be better the more they play. The same can't be said of most offensive line and linebacker positions.
They still lack that elite shutdown corner, but even if they were to draft a top cornerback and he turned out to be a quality pick, he still won't be a shutdown player for at least another season or two. It's not going to be a band-aid fix.
The Lions Will Take Cordy Glenn If They Can
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Drafttek and NFL Network's Albert Breer have the Lions picking Cordy Glenn at 23. Everyone else has him picked earlier.
A month ago, this wouldn't have been an issue. But Glenn has been nothing but impressive since starting his draft work. He was already a monster player at Georgia, and his performances at the Senior Bowl and combine have teams ready to plug him in at either guard or tackle.
Originally, Glenn was considered somewhere within the top three guards of the draft. Nobody thought he'd translate well to tackle because of his size. Then he handled everything thrown at him at the Senior Bowl and ran circles around everyone (well, at least most of the other linemen) at the combine.
Now, there are a bunch of teams who would love to put Glenn at just about any position on the line, because 350-pound men aren't supposed to be able to move the way Glenn does. Unfortunately, a bunch of those teams sit above Detroit on the draft board.
But if nothing else, we can determine that the Lions will likely nab Glenn if they can.
Despite Recent Drafts, Detroit Won't Draft a First-Round Defensive Lineman
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Technically, NFL.com's Bucky Brooks has the Lions nabbing Nick Perry out of USC at 23, but that mock was released on February 29.
One of the only reasons for anyone to think the Lions would use a high pick on a defensive end is the potential loss of Cliff Avril. With the news this week that the Lions used the franchise tag on the prolific defensive end, that need is at least reduced to a point where it no longer requires a first-round pick.
Of course, the odds that the Lions actually spent their first-round pick on a defensive end was relatively low in the first place. But it wasn't zero. It's still not zero, especially if the Lions get a freak chance at a Quinton Coples or Whitney Mercilus.
But with Cliff Avril back in the fold for a hefty amount of money (one way or another), any mocks that were thinking about sending another DE to Detroit should probably reconsider.
Linebackers Are Woefully Undervalued
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Maybe it's just a value and position thing, but I'm hardly seeing anyone mock a linebacker to the Detroit Lions, even though it represents the team's third-biggest need.
Walter Football sends former Cal Bear Mychal Kendricks to the Lions in the second round, and Drafttek has Keenan Robinson of Texas falling to the Lions in the fifth. But the vast majority of these mocks utterly ignore the linebacker position.
But the thing is, now that the Lions are sure to retain Avril for another season (at least), they're basically out of money. The chances of them being able to keep middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch under contract for 2012 are close to zero unless they start clearing up cap room in a hurry.
And unlike cornerback, defensive line and running back, there are very few promising young prospects being groomed for big roles at linebacker. I would argue that Doug Hogue is the only linebacker with upside on the entire team, and he's a former fifth-round pick.
While it may not be the most important position on this particular team, the fact is the Lions' linebacker position is about to get awfully thin, and the team isn't in much of a position to do anything about it.
Worse yet, a majority of the starting linebackers the Lions will use this season will be free agents next year (most notably Justin Durant), so it's not like it's just a "here and now" need. The Lions have gone to great pains to increase the overall level of talent all over the team. The linebacking corps should be next up for an upgrade.
Peter Konz's Stock Is Falling
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A few weeks ago, Peter Konz made all the sense in the world for the Detroit Lions.
He was the top center prospect on the board, and the Lions, badly needing upgrades in the interior of the offensive line, would have been obliged to add the draft's top center to the fold.
But as the draft season has gone on, a fair amount of doubt has crept in around Konz. He is recovering from an injury (his third in three years at Wisconsin) which kept him out of most combine activities, and the one he did participate in, he tanked.
Shockingly, Konz only put up 18 reps in the bench press, which is worse than even a bunch of receivers and secondary players. Two quarterbacks (Jordan Jefferson of LSU and Darron Thomas of Oregon) even attempted the bench press, and they both had 14 reps.
Of course, Konz is probably stronger than he showed at the combine, but the real issue here is his durability and the possibility that he isn't keeping himself in good shape as he rehabs. Had Konz been fully healthy, I expect he might have shown better stuff in the bench press. But he didn't, and he's stuck with that performance now.
The result of all this is that Konz has gone from a possible top-15 pick who would have been a steal for the Lions, to a guy who may fall out of the first round entirely. Many current mocks have Konz going to Baltimore at 29, but who knows?
The good news for Konz is he still has his pro day to try to turn things around, and he should be healthier at that point. But if he doesn't, he could slip even further.