Detroit Lions Mock Draft: Grading Matt Miller's Latest Picks

Dean Holden@@Dean_HoldenAnalyst IMarch 30, 2012

Detroit Lions Mock Draft: Grading Matt Miller's Latest Picks

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    The NFL announced compensatory picks for the 2012 draft on Monday, but the Lions didn't see any of that wealth.

    In response, Matt Miller (presumably) toiled through the night to give us a brand new compensatory pick-laden mock draft just about a day later. That's commitment, people.

    Now, as far as Lions fans are concerned, this is just another mock draft. The "compensatory pick" business affects the Lions only insofar as their later-round picks will be pushed back a bit, but there are no more or fewer picks to work with.

    The compensatory picks are not the only things Miller has changed about his mock. He has also changed the picks in some interesting ways. But don't let me spoil anything, because I'm going to break this down pick-by-pick, for better or worse.

    I'll just say that Miller made a couple of picks that matched my "Best Case/Worst Case" mock draft from a few weeks ago.

    In fact, he matched picks on both sides of it...

Round 1 (23rd Overall): Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia

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    If you've been following my work at all this offseason, you know that this is the champion of all first-round picks.

    My "best-case scenario," if you will.

    Glenn has the size and strength the Lions need, and has the versatility to be an immediate upgrade at no less than three positions (right tackle and both guards). Glenn has freakishly good footwork for his size, so if the Lions wish it, he could even develop into an eventual answer at left tackle.

    Picture that scenario: Glenn improves the interior line play for his first two seasons, then takes over at left tackle when Jeff Backus' contract is up. That's filling a short-term need and a completely different long-term need, all with one pick.

    That's just one scenario with a player with Glenn's size and talent. This is the pick the Lions need in the first round, and the only question is whether he will be available at 23.

    If he is, the only question remaining is, "which position do the Lions want to upgrade the most, and when?"

    Grade: A+

Round 2 (54th Overall): Mitchell Schwartz, OT, Cal

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    This one is complicated. I graded Schwartz as a "best case" pick in my mock, because I do like the pick.

    But I had Schwartz falling to the fourth round, and realistically, that's not going to happen.

    Yet this seems too far in the other direction. If the fourth round is a little too low for Schwartz, the second might be a tad too high, considering the Lions' value-based approach to drafting.

    Still, I like Mitchell Schwartz the player, and I wouldn't mind having him on the team one bit, so I can't really give a bad grade to the pick. The Lions are absolutely in a position where double-dipping on offensive linemen in the first two rounds is an understandable move.

    The late second round is well within Schwartz's range, but it's not a great value pick. Miller himself lists Schwartz as a "developmental player." Maybe its just me, but I don't know that it's the best idea to look for a developmental player in the second round.

    Of course, what Miller is suggesting is that Schwartz develops into a solid starter at left tackle, in which case I guess it's okay. I would just have liked to see this pick in the third round.

    Grade: B+

Round 3 (87th Overall): Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette

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    I like the pick and the round. The Lions do need to invest a little more into the cornerback position, but the degree to which it has been blown up this offseason borders on the ridiculous.

    I don't necessarily agree with Miller's assessment that Detroit "lost its best corner in Eric Wright," but Wright was a starting-quality player and either Aaron Berry or Jacob Lacey is likely to be a step down, barring a breakout season.

    The Lions have more young talent at corner than many fans recognize, but they do need depth and a player with a high ceiling.

    Dwight Bentley, the kind of athletic small-school prospect the Lions have had success with in recent drafts, seems to fit the "high ceiling" need perfectly. A JUCO transfer to Louisiana-Layfayette, Bentley surprised a lot of people at the Combine with 4.4-range speed and fluid footwork.

    The greatest knock on Bentley is his size (5'10", 185 pounds), but his athleticism makes him the perfect high-ceiling project in the third round. Gunther Cunningham isn't going to start a new corner as a rookie anyway, so why not grab a guy who can learn from practice, put on some bulk and actually get better?

    Makes all the sense in the world. At this point, he's pretty good value in the third round, too.

    Grade: A

Round 4 (119th Overall): David Molk, C, Michigan

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    Alright I'm loving this mock so far, but here's where Miller loses me.

    There are two things wrong with this pick.

    One is that no matter how much the Lions need to upgrade the offensive line, they won't spend three of their first four picks on it. They'd be better served to take Glenn and Schwartz this year, and look for the heir apparent at center next year.

    The second is that David Molk is almost identical in build and skill set to Dominic Raiola. I may have mentioned this before.

    Now, the Lions badly need to upgrade the interior of their offensive line, and that includes Raiola, whose upper body strength and technique won't be enough to keep him from a rapid decline in the coming years.

    But Raiola has never been good against larger nose tackles, and has never been a top-quality run-blocker. When the Lions see B.J. Raji twice a year and desperately need to improve their run blocking, why would they attempt to replace Raiola with basically the exact same player?

    That's just asking for trouble. Raiola has been better than most give him credit for in his career, but his greatest career weaknesses coincide with the things the Lions most need to upgrade right now. The Lions wouldn't see an upgrade with this pick, they'd just be replacing an aging player with a guy they hope will be as good as his predecessor.

    Grade: D

Round 5 (160th Overall): Chris Rainey, RB, Florida

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    Opinions are split on whether or not the Lions need a new running back. There is certainly lots of talent at the position, but the question remains whether any of them will be healthy in 2012 (or beyond).

    Even for those who believe the Lions need another running back, few think the Lions should invest as much in the position as they have in recent years. Spending a fifth-round pick seems to satisfy both conditions, especially considering how the first half of this draft addresses the offensive line, the actual culprit holding back the Lions' rushing attack.

    Chris Rainey is an interesting prospect, because he played both wide receiver and running back at Florida. With those skills, his quickness and speed, he makes a lot of sense as Jahvid Best insurance. He doesn't quite have the speed or the playmaking ability Best has, but he doesn't have the medical red flags, either.

    Best of all, Rainey is a pretty good value in the fifth round. He is projected to go as high as the third, but there are a couple issues that will likely push him down the board.

    First, running backs are not exactly en vogue in the draft these days, and as the league becomes increasingly pass-centric, running backs become a smaller part of the offense.

    Second, Rainey got himself suspended in 2010 for an aggravated stalking misdemeanor, which raises a minor red flag. He did community service and anger management, and hasn't been much of a character issue since. But for a mid-round player at an increasingly expendable position, even high-character guys are going to have a difficult time getting drafted, much less a guy with a legal history.

    In the fifth round, though, the potential reward far outweighs the risk.

    Grade: A-

Round 7 (222th Overall Via SEA): Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona

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    Trevin Wade isn't likely to deliver the Lions' cornerback position from oblivion, but that's not what the Lions should be looking for here, either.

    Wade is a corner who has put himself on the map with a solid combine performance, but there's no question that he's a project. And yes, this is the Lions double-dipping at cornerback in the draft, but in the seventh round, position is irrelevant. Wade has the athleticism to stick with the team as a special teamer, and if he can do that, he can polish his skills at corner.

    I don't have anything particularly negative to say about this pick, because in the seventh round, there are no real busts. Am I in love with the pick? Not particularly, but who loves a pick in the seventh round? What the Lions need is somebody who can physically make the roster. The more the Lions are able to stack the roster with upside, the fewer needs will arise in the future.

    And let's not forget, Jim Schwartz is the guy primarily responsible for rapid improvment in former undrafted free agent Aaron Berry and former seventh-round pick Cortland Finnegan. Schwartz probably won't get that kind of production out of Wade, but don't rule it out.

    Grade: B

Round 7 (233rd Overall): Adrian Robinson, OLB/DE, Temple

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    So I know I just said I don't judge seventh round picks harshly, and this one isn't all bad, but here's the problem: Nobody knows whether Adrian Robinson is an OLB or a DE.

    That means he belongs in a 3-4 defense. And the Lions have been focused on bringing in guys who fit the 4-3 scheme and the system, so why would they go for a guy like Robinson, who isn't a particular value pick even in the seventh round, and likely doesn't fit the scheme?

    Now, I will say that if the Lions choose to coach up Robinson as a defensive end, they could have some success (the Lions do well with late-round defensive linemen).

    He may draw some comparisons to Willie Young in that regard, but the difference is that Young was an undersized pass-rush specialist who made up for his stature with explosiveness and speed. Robinson doesn't have the speed or explosive pass-rush skills. He started 12 games at right end in 2010 and came down with 3.5 sacks to show for it.

    I can't grade this too harshly, because what do you want with a seventh-round pick? But I do expect the Lions to go with someone who actually has a clear role on the team if he develops. If he were with a 3-4 team, he'd be a pass-rushing OLB. But he doesn't seem to have the chops to make it as a 4-3 DE, so what would he be there for?

    Grade: C-