Detroit Lions Mock Draft: Who Are the Experts Projecting to the Lions?

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  Taxi cabs drive down the Avenue of the Americas past the Radio City Music Hall marquee, site of the 2011 NFL Draft, on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

We're closing in on the home stretch of the NFL draft process and, of course, everyone has their mock drafts firing off on a frequent basis.

Here's a quick look around the internet at some of the choices analysts are making for the Lions in their mock drafts.

The guys whose mocks I looked at this week were the following: Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, Scott Wright of, Wes Bunting of National Football Post, Rob Rang and Dane Brugler of CBS Sportsline, Shawn Zobel from Draft HeadquartersBleacher Report's very own Sigmund Bloom, Chad Reuter of and Walter Cherepinsky of Walter Football.

All of the links above go to the respective analysts' mocks; I didn't include Kiper/McShay as they are both behind the ESPN pay wall.

Looking at the 10, the consensus is that the Lions will go offensive line with their first pick. Five of the experts I looked at this week went for offensive line, with five dissenters—Zobel, Wright, Reuter, McShay and Cherepinsky.

Reuter and McShay went for the defensive line and the other three went cornerback.

Clearly, though 50 percent of the analysts went offensive line, there is no overwhelming majority of opinion, much like my own thoughts.

Reuter: Nick Perry, DE, USC

Here's what he said:

Perry has a chance to be a very good 4-3 pass rusher if he takes to coaching and pays close attention to the professionalism of Kyle Vanden Bosch, who is nearing the end of his career.

My take: The cream of the cornerback crop, as well as the best linemen were gone by this point, so I can see why he went with Perry who could also move to outside linebacker if need be. With the Avril situation up in the air beyond this year and Vanden Bosch aging, looking to the future of the position is a wise direction.

McShay: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

Here's what he said:

The Lions put the franchise tag on DE Cliff Avril, and Kyle Vanden Bosch will be 34 this season, so now is the time to add an edge rusher to make sure their defensive line will remain a devastating force for years to come. Mercilus has quickness and a knack for big plays, but he is still developing and this would be a good situation for him.

My take:

As with Reuter, McShay had much of the offensive line and cornerback talent gone by the Lions' pick, so he too reinforced the defensive line. McShay didn't have Perry go in the first (though quickly in the second round), while Reuter had Mercilus go soon after the Lions' pick. Again, I think if the talent at two of the top positions of need are gone, it's not a bad move. 

Cherepinsky: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Here's what he said:

The Lions are conducting research into Janoris Jenkins. They love him as a prospect, but they're going to do their homework to see if he can be trusted with this selection. Jenkins has appeared remorseful throughout the pre-draft process, so maybe the front office will give him a shot.

Besides, Jenkins fills a huge need and fits into Detroit's "best player available" draft strategy.

My take: Well, the Detroit Free Press said the other day that the Lions will not draft Jenkins. So there's that. However, let us remember that this is draft season, aka lying season. So it's not outside the realm of possibility that they are lying. That Stephon Gilmore is on the board still would say to me that there's a chance they go that way instead. Cherepinsky also lists Martin as an alternative, though he is already drafted in the mock.

I liked Jenkins early but it sounds more and more like he will not go to the Lions. I would be concerned right now with the issues that have cropped up in the last few weeks to add him to that environment. Might not be the right move for either side.


Wright: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Here's what he said: (Scott talks a lot so I grabbed the gist) 

With Jeff Backus back in the fold it appears as though corner will rate as a more pressing concern and Detroit should be happy to add Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick, who they reportedly like, as a replacement for free agent defection Eric Wright. Kirkpatrick isn’t the elite prospect that some made him out to be early in the process and there is even a contingent that feels his best fit at the next level will come at free safety.  With that said, Kirkpatrick is tall and rangy with decent speed, isn’t afraid to hit and has proven himself against elite competition.

My take: I like this pick and if Kirkpatrick is there, I'd say pull the trigger. There are better corners, yes, but most of them are gone in the mock by this point. It's not like Kirkpatrick is chopped liver; far from it.

Interestingly, Jonathan Martin is on the board still, but as I said in my piece last week on offensive lines, it may not be as big a need as we have thought it was in the past.

I think this is an accurate statement of where the Lions' heads may be at this point. Scott thinks corner is a bigger need than offensive line, and I concur.


Zobel: Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida

Zobel didn't have a description of his thoughts on the site, so I can only guess at what he was thinking with Robinson, who many have as a second-round prospect. However, the way his mock goes, all the top corner talent is gone, so if the Lions wanted a cornerback, they'd have to reach.

As I said with Scott Wright, corner is a bigger need than offensive line and Zobel has Mike Adams available here, so it's something I believe he probably thinks as well. Robinson has crawled up draft board this winter/spring so while it may be a reach in some respects, it isn't a complete shock.


Bloom: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

Here's what he said:

The Lions have gotten a strong signal to avoid character risk players in the last week. Martin can push Gosder Cherilus at right tackle and potentially take over for Jeff Backus at left tackle in a few years.

My take: I think in terms of thought process, Bloom's point about Jenkins' issues (that's who I read him referring to without directly stating it when he talks about character risks) and if Martin is there, he's a very good tackle who could play for them a very long time.

I might lean towards Mark Barron myself, as he's there and they need a companion safety almost as much as another cornerback.


Brugler: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Here's what he said:

The recent signing of incumbent left tackle Jeff Backus could put this pick in doubt, but it's very similar to a few years ago when the Packers selected another Iowa tackle (Bryan Bulaga) with the 23rd pick overall to provide youth and depth at a critical position. Reiff is still developing as a former defensive end and tight end and would be able to cut his teeth under Backus for a year before taking over the left tackle duties next season, moving Backus inside to guard or over to RT.

My take: As Brugler acknowledges, there is some doubt here with Backus back in the fold. Reiff dropping this far after early rankings having him going nearly Top 10 makes him a pretty good value, though. As I have said a few times here, corner is a greater need, so with Kirkpatrick sitting there it's hard to not see them going that way. Reiff might make a strong argument, though.


Rang: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

Here's what he said:

The Lions reached out to free agents offensive tackles Eric Winston (who signed with Kansas City) and Marcus McNeill (still unsigned) but may find a better option simply by waiting until draft day. Martin doesn't play with the physicality scouts would prefer and is viewed as a bit of a finesse technician. He'd be an immediate upgrade at right tackle for the Lions and has the athleticism to eventually take over for Jeff Backus' as Matt Stafford's blindside protector.

My take: As with Brugler, Kirkpatrick is still there so my thoughts remain the same. I do think in either case that ultimately the Lions go corner or safety over a lineman.


Bunting: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

Here's what he said:

As long as quarterback Matthew Stafford is healthy the offense is going to score points. Therefore, bringing in an athlete capable of protecting his blind side is becoming a major need in Detroit.

My take: Stop me if you've heard this one before: Kirkpatrick and Barron are both on the board and the secondary is a bigger need. While I might think you could argue for Reiff or Martin, I don't think I'd listen to someone standing on the table for Adams. I respect Wes a ton, so it's something for me to look closer at. I know he's higher on Adams than I am.


Kiper: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

Here's what he said:

The Lions can't go wrong with either the best corner or tackle option here. In this scenario, Martin fits what they'll be looking for to bring the O-line up to par. An athletic tackle, he should develop into a great pass protector for Matthew Stafford. Jeff Backus has played forever, the Lions have enough pieces elsewhere and must target the line.

My take: Janoris Jenkins is still on the board but we've already talked about why the Lions would likely pass on him. Aside from that, there's nobody who makes me sing when I see their name on the board. Maybe Nick Perry, but I'm not in love. If the draft fell like this, Kiper makes an excellent case for why the team would take Martin.