Detroit Lions 2012 Mock Draft: Grading Picks from the B/R Community Mock Draft
As much as I love speculating about and creating mock drafts, there tends to be a lot of guesswork involved.
If I'm just speculating about Lions' picks, I have to assume that X player or Y player is actually available for the Lions to draft.
Alternatively, when one person creates a mock draft individually, that person tends to have less insight to each team and is more of a general NFL analyst.
Enter Bleacher Report's ambitious Community Mock Draft, which recruited one Featured Columnist from each team and had them all act as mock GMs in a live, active mock draft over Twitter.
The Lions "GM" for this project was fellow FC Nick Kostora, whose work you should be familiar with. If you're not, go get yourself familiar here, because based on his picks and maneuvering in the mock itself, I have to assume he knows what he's talking about.
Alternatively, if you'd like to see the entirety of the Community Mock Draft, you can go check that out here.
Or if you'd rather just see the picks Kostora made for the Lions, complete with my commentary and grades, you could check that out on the next slide.
Round 1 (23rd Overall): Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
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Kostora argues with this pick that the Lions should disregard Adams' poor showing at the Combine and spring for Adams as the heir apparent to Jeff Backus (even if he takes a year at right tackle to acclimate beforehand).
It's true that Adams was approaching top-15 status after the Senior Bowl, before looking stiff, slow and weak at the Combine. It's also true that he's a massive hulk of a human being without a lot of injury or off-field concerns.
The Lions need to address the offensive line with some talented youth because the line is otherwise primed to start blowing apart at the seams like an old pair of pants that was always a little too small.
Adams accomplishes this, though he doesn't provide great value at the position. Then again, that's based on perception from the Combine, not Adams' stellar college career.
I'm certain Kostora's heart sank when Cordy Glenn and Jonathan Martin were taken off the board with the two preceding picks, and Adams could very well be a steal at 23 if his Combine performance turns out to be an anomaly.
Still, this ultimately feels like just a "safe" pick. Not stellar, not bad, and not one I've been averse to in the past myself. But safe.
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One of the great things about the B/R Community Mock Draft is that it opened up the possibility of trades.
Because analysts were acting GMs of their particular teams, all it took was a discussion over Twitter to work out trades in real time, as the draft went on.
Kostora found himself in just such a situation when the New York Giants' GM looked to move up from the last pick in the second round. Kostora agreed and moved down to the 64th overall pick from 54th (though because of the Saints' forfeited pick, it was only actually a slide of nine spots).
Kostora picked up the Giants' third-round pick and (in a very Mayhew-esque move) an extra seventh for the move, and the Giants used the trade up to draft OT Bobby Massie out of Ole Miss. That's a puzzling move to say the least; Massie is frequently projected in the third round, and there were arguably better players still on the board.
But that's irrelevant to Kostora and the Lions who make a great pickup with a relatively small move down. Even after moving down to the final spot in the second round, Kostora was still able to nab...
Round 2 (64th Overall from NYG): Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech
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This is the second-best pick of the draft for Kostora. He trades down nine spots from 54th overall and still gets a guy who probably shouldn't even have been available at 54th, much less 64th.
Granted, there's a logjam of corners at the second and third-round level, and none of them are head-and-shoulders above the rest. But there's no question that Hosley is a value at the end of round two, and he makes sense for Detroit here.
This is right about where Detroit's need for a corner is. They don't need to go out there and panic by bringing in whatever corner falls to them in the first round, but they do need to bring in some more talent. So a corner in the second or third round makes perfect sense.
A mid-second-round corner with the last pick of the second round makes even better sense.
Round 3 (87th Overall): James Brown, OT, Troy
James Brown makes some sense here, and the Lions would be no worse for wear with two new offensive tackles, but with two of the top three picks?
Why not an upgrade for the interior? The Lions need to upgrade the rushing attack, and it isn't going to happen by drafting tackles. And quality interior linemen aren't something that the Lions can pick up in free agency without paying a small fortune.
Besides, does this mean we're giving up on Jason Fox? Corey Hilliard? Johnny Culbreath? The Lions have invested some resources into the future at tackle, and just because it hasn't come to fruition yet doesn't mean the Lions are ready to give up on them.
But there's only so much space on the roster, and bringing in two new tackles with high picks means they'll have to make room, presumably by cutting some of their project players.
Now, maybe that doesn't hurt anybody's feelings too badly, but none of the aforementioned players have had more than two years with the team, and most of those years have been spent on IR.
I don't know that the Lions are ready to cut their starters yet, and I don't know if they're ready to give up on their projects yet. What I do know is they'll have to do one of those things to fit both Brown and Mike Adams on the roster.
And if the Lions were to spend two early picks on tackles like this... why not Mitchell Schwartz out of Cal? He inexplicably slipped all the way to the fourth round, despite most projections having him off the board by the second. He would have been the better value here.
EDIT: Since I basically just ripped into Kostora on this pick, it's only fair to give him this space to explain himself. He explained his rationale on the Brown pick in the comments box below, but he deserves more precedence than that, so here's what he has to say:
"Most of the scouting reports I read project him as a guard at the next level and a second round value. So I was taking him with the belief that he would transition to the interior."
Makes sense, and I see some of the same scouting reports he's talking about. If in fact Brown turns out to be a poor man's Cordy Glenn, this pick makes perfect sense. I wonder if Brown has the road-grading ability to be the kind of guard the Lions need, but I can't argue with Kostora's rationale.
Round 3 (96th Overall from NYG): Sean Spence, OLB, Miami
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Nice work by Kostora here, filling the need nobody's talking about.
Lions fans stopped talking about the linebacker position the day they re-signed Stephen Tulloch, but Bobby Carpenter is a free agent right now, and DeAndre Levy and Justin Durant will be next year.
Maybe there are high hopes for the athletic Doug Hogue, but besides him and Tulloch, who plays linebacker for the Lions after this year? Maybe they'll end up re-signing their existing players, but it isn't as though a little depth or insurance would hurt anything.
The Lions are at a point where they can start filling needs before they happen. Spence makes that happen here and is one of the best players available despite the draft being unusually thin with 4-3 OLBs.
Round 4 (119th Overall): Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
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Do not adjust your monitors. Brandon Weeden did indeed fall to the fourth round, and Kostora did indeed grab him with what has to be considered the steal of the draft.
I've been saying for a long time that the Lions should draft a project quarterback to serve as a depth player and possible Kevin Kolb-like trade bait for a QB-needy team with a coach on the hot seat.
Jay Cutler and Vince Young will be 28 this year too, and people are still waiting on those guys to peak at some point. Weeden is a talented quarterback who could easily post 10 years of quality football.
There's no good reason for him to have fallen out of the second round, and I applaud Kostora for thinking outside of the box and grabbing the true BPA here.
He won't create any kind of quarterback controversy with Matthew Stafford, but he's a nice insurance policy and a fantastic bargaining chip.
Round 5 (160th Overall): Tyrone Crawford, DE/DT, Boise State
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I really like the idea of the Lions taking a defensive end in the fifth round this year.
Why the fifth? No idea. Just seems like a good point to grab a quality developmental player for a position they'll need in a year or two.
The Lions are going to need a new defensive end very shortly. Whether it's because they can't come to terms with Cliff Avril, or Kyle Vanden Bosch out-ages his usefulness (or contract); it's going to happen.
And even if reclamation project Lawrence Jackson or seventh-round phenom Willie Young can step up and fill the void left by one (or both) of them, who fills their spots as key rotational linemen?
Crawford is a project pick here but so was Young in the seventh round in 2010 and Sammie Lee Hill in the fourth round of 2009. And neither of them were projected to the third round. Crawford is, which makes him both the BPA and Kostora's second straight absurd steal.
The Lions know how to get value out of late defensive linemen, and this pick should serve as no exception, especially since Crawford is projected much higher than this in most mocks.
The only reason this grade gets a "minus" attached to it is because Crawford looks like he might be another Andre Fluellen: a five-technique miscast in the Lions' 4-3 defense. He might struggle to find his role in the scheme, but his talent and value here still make him a great pick.
Round 7 (222nd Overall from SEA): Brandon Hardin, FS, Oregon State
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Another player who probably should probably be off the board two rounds before Kostora gets him. But then, when you get to the fifth round or so, it really becomes anyone's guess.
Brandon Hardin isn't going to set anyone's world on fire, but he's a better prospect than most teams get in the fourth round, and the safety position is a question mark right now.
Of course, I would argue that to truly shore up the safety position, the Lions need to bring in a solid veteran presence (other than Erik Coleman) to play alongside the kids (Louis Delmas, Amari Spievey and Ricardo Silva). Getting Hardin here isn't going to help the Lions this year, anyway.
But then, show me a GM who tries to fill team needs with a seventh-round draft pick, and I'll show you an ex-GM. Hardin is a fine pick here, and although he's coming off shoulder surgery, he could play some quality special teams while he tries to work himself in with the defense.
Besides, with all the injuries the Lions have at the safety position every year, they need as much quality depth as they can get. John Wendling should never be on the field at the same time as a quarterback.
Round 7 (233rd Overall): Danny Coale, WR, Virginia Tech
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The Lions need a fourth wide receiver, but with all the pass-catching ability the Lions have in their running backs and tight ends, a fourth WR is not going to affect the offense much unless somebody gets hurt.
Danny Coale wasn't incredibly productive or consistent at Virginia Tech, but he has good quickness and speed and a knack for the big play in crunch time.
He's also versatile: Coale served as a special teams coverage player through his career at Virginia Tech and as their punter twice during the 2011 season. His two longest punts went 52 yards.
So there's that in case of an emergency.
That aside though, Coale is a nice project pick here with some upside, but I wouldn't expect him to be a breakout player.
Round 7 (242nd Overall from NYG): Tauren Poole, RB, Tennessee
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Tauren Poole wasn't exactly a game-changer in college, but the Tennessee Vols were a mess while he was there, so you can't really hold that against him.
Poole has, however, looked good at the Combine and the East-West Shrine Game. He stands only 5'10" and just a shade over 200 pounds, but he runs with power and low pad level, hitting his gaps hard.
The Lions lack a (healthy) running back that does that effectively, though I have doubts about how much Poole can accomplish since one of the Lions' greatest weaknesses—interior offensive lineman—has not been addressed in this mock. Poole can't hit his gaps hard if there are no gaps.
Still, Poole is a good, quality pick here, and he, like Coale, represents the fact that the Lions have a need for skill players, but it's not big enough to overspend on it.
Overall Thoughts, Awards and Grade
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An important thing to note is that teams physically cannot address all their needs in the draft.
Not effectively, anyway.
It's a constant process to keep a team competitive from year to year, and that largely involves drafting the best players you can to address the needs you can.
Kostora has done a fantastic job of that here, and even with my minor gripes, I would be extremely excited if the Lions' draft turned out this way. Excellent work, Nick.
Now for some arbitrary accolades.
Best Overall Pick: Jayron Hosley in the second. Will be an impact player, was a value pick and got him after a trade down.
Worst Overall Pick: James Brown in the third. Mitchell Schwartz would have been a better tackle selection, and anything else would have been a better position selection. If the Lions are going to upgrade the offensive line twice, it should be at two different positions.
Biggest Steal: Brandon Weeden in the fourth, and it's not close. This isn't the biggest steal for the Lions, it's the biggest steal in the whole draft.
Overall Draft Grade: B+. It's really about a 90, so maybe like a A-/B+. The trade was good, the picks were value-minded and major areas of need got taken care of. Kostora's draft was a questionable third-round pick and some interior line help from being pretty much flawless.