Two weeks from now, it won't be speculation anymore.
Somehow, the NFL draft managed to sneak up on us once again, despite the months of speculation leading up to it. Like Opening Day, the Super Bowl or the weekend, you spend so much time looking forward to it that it comes and goes without you even noticing.
So if there's one thing I'll say to you as you sift through my seventh (and second-to-last) mock draft, it's this: enjoy this moment, friends.
Because once this draft is over, it's going to be a cold three months of OTAs, sporadic small-scale free agent signings and Top-10-Lions'-Somethings-of-All-Time lists before we finally get to training camp.
So with that in mind, I've put this list together for all of you who posted your mock projections last week. Honestly, I liked some of your picks, and I have subsequently borrowed them from you. You'll know who you are when see your pick.
Also, this is my last mock in which I go by my usual no-repeat-picks rule. Early next week, I'll post my best compilation of picks from all the mocks I've done this season. So get hyped.
In the meantime, you'll have to deal with this.
Here's Dean's previous mocks.
I got no love for the Zach Brown pick last week—which is fine.
How about this, then? A brand new defensive end to replace whichever players the Lions end up losing.
What do I mean by that? Only that Lawrence Jackson, Willie Young, and Cliff Avril are (at this point) all free agents after the season. There certainly exists a chance the Lions re-sign all three, but it's not incredibly likely or even sensible they can bring in a player like Mercilus.
If you're thinking Everette Brown is going to be the Lions' next big thing, that's fine. The Lions signed him to a one-year deal, which is (naturally) also up at the end of this season.
Basically, by the advent of free agency next year, the Lions will have one defensive end left on the roster. Kyle Vanden Bosch will be 35 at that time, and he will be entering the final year of his contract.
Believe it or not, defensive end is neither a position of long-term strength or depth for the Lions, and those are two things the draft is meant to build.
Remember that point when you repeat the "cornerback or offensive line mantra."
The last time everyone said Detroit had to take a cornerback or an offensive lineman, it was 2010, and we were talking about Tyron Smith and Prince Amukamara. The Lions took a defensive lineman.
So just don't be shocked; that's all I'm saying.
Previous pick: Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin
Part of the reason Lavonte David falls to the second round is because he's limited to playing outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense.
At 6'1" and 225 pounds, he's also built more like a large cornerback than a small linebacker, and his frame probably isn't going to allow him to put on much more weight.
That's the bad news.
The good news? David has elite speed and agility, excellent instincts, and he excels at stopping the run, dropping into coverage, blitzing, picking through traffic at the line, making sure tackles and making big hits.
For those of you keeping score, that's basically everything a linebacker has to do.
David is a playmaker—plain and simple. If not for his size and scheme limitation, he'd easily be a first-round pick. But he matches the Lions' need for a 4-3 OLB, so there's no problem there.
When Jim Schwartz came to town, he preached getting bigger and stronger at every position, and he has mostly delivered on that. Drafting David would be a departure from size in favor of speed philosophy—but so was signing Stephen Tulloch.
And that worked out okay, right?
I don't like to be especially dogmatic when it comes to "the Lions must draft this position in this draft!"
But that being said, they need to draft an interior lineman. Even if they plan on letting Rob Sims and Stephen Peterman play out their contracts, the depth at guard is frankly embarrassing.
Bad as Peterman is, had he gotten hurt last year, Matthew Stafford would have had better luck just going into the fetal position behind a blocking sled for every offensive play.
Unless, of course, you thought Jacques McClendon just needed some field time to show he was the next Leonard Davis (whose actual second coming was exceptionally uneventful).
The point is that the Lions need to draft a guard or center. Brandon Brooks is a guard, and a potential value in the third round. It makes sense.
Brooks won't start immediately, but he has upside. In the meantime, he provides depth where previously "depth" meant "signing someone mid-week to the veteran minimum."
Previous pick: Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas
Hey, it could be worse. Last week I waited until the fifth round to draft a cornerback.
Not only that, I almost mocked a safety here. With all the clamor for a corner in this year's draft, it was tempting to mock every defensive position but corner.
But that would just be trolling.
The Lions have enough youth to deal with at safety right now. They do need fresh legs at cornerback, even if they're attached to a project pick from tiny FCS-based Coastal Carolina.
But before passing judgement on Josh Norman, try taking a look at Sammie Hill, former fourth-round pick out of Stillman College, a liberal arts school in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Then, tell me a small-school prospect in the fourth round won't yield anything.
Between, Hill, Willie Young and Aaron Berry, the Lions coaching staff has proven repeatedly they can pull value out of defensive project picks. Norman would just be the latest in that series.
Previous pick: Coty Sensabaugh, CB, Clemson
Why yes, I will double-dip for linebackers in this draft, especially if Travis Lewis is sitting around in the fifth.
Lewis is a perfect fifth-round pick. He has shown flashes of brilliance, but his stock is down following a rough year in 2011 and poor combine performance.
There is an elevated risk of him being a bust, but if he isn't, he's probably second- or third-round value.
Lewis fought through a toe injury for most of the 2011 season, which was likely why it wasn't his best year, but that also raises some injury questions, however minor. Lewis earns points for coming back four weeks earlier than expected, but it's hard to believe it didn't affect his play.
Regardless, Lewis has near-perfect size for the linebacker position and could take Doug Hogue's spot on special teams if Hogue works his way into the defensive rotation.
Like Hogue, Lewis is full of questions, but he's athletic enough to at least play special teams.
Whether anybody likes to admit it, the Lions need a fourth wide receiver.
They don't need to spend a first-round pick on one, but they need to fill out that depth chart with talented players.
David Douglas has made it his mission to take his status from anonymous UDFA to seventh-round prospect, and it looks increasingly like that could happen. He could be that player for the Lions.
The Lions badly need a receiver who can reliably run intermediate routes, and David prides himself on his versatility. (He played every receiver position at Arizona.)
He'll need some work, but obviously, the Lions have seen something in him. Despite his seventh-round/undrafted status, the Lions spent one of their 30 pre-draft visits on David.
Now, that doesn't mean anything necessarily. It's not like the Lions can draft all 30 of those players. But it's a lead, and this is the seventh round. If the Lions like what they see, they'll pounce.
Previous pick: Jordan Jefferson, QB, LSU
Once again, a player projected as a seventh-round/undrafted pick gets called to Detroit, and speculation ensues.
That the Lions have invited Kevin Murphy to the Lions' Allen Park team facility proves only that they're mildly interested in him. But are they interested in drafting him, or are they using this visit as a carrot to gain his favor as an undrafted free agent?
Either way, Murphy makes some sense. Being from Harvard, he's obviously a smart guy, and he would probably soak up knowledge from Dominic Raiola and Jeff Backus like a dry sponge.
The question is: will Murphy be good enough physically to apply his mental abilities on the field? He has decent size, and his tight end days from high school prove his athleticism.
But he's been pushing around Ivy Leaguers for four years. Does he really have NFL power? Can he add bulk to his frame to develop that power?
And are the Lions willing to find out?