It is almost upon us.
The NFL draft, that last big hurdle before we start looking ahead to training camp and actual football, is right there on the horizon, and not a moment too soon.
This will be the eighth Lions mock draft I've put together in the last six months, and I've made good on my promise to vary up the picks and not repeat.
If you've been following my recent mocks, I've been alluding to a coming mock in which I drop the self-imposed "no repeat" restriction and just pick the players I like, regardless of whether I've picked them before or not.
I can't hide behind anything on this one. This is honestly my ideal mock draft for the Lions, and I make no excuses for it. So if you want to criticize a mock I've done, make it this one, and unleash whatever fury you may have. I'm ready for it.
But if you've been following me this offseason, you probably already know who's going to show up in the first round...
Originally mocked: 11/06/11 in Round 2
It's true, friends. When I first mocked Cordy Glenn, the guy who has made it into almost every article I've written about the draft since the last draft, I thought he was a Day 2 pick.
Now it will be a lucky strike if the Lions even have a chance at him without trading up.
In my defense, Glenn's weight was a concern. Still is to some. But then, the combine happened. Turns out, seeing a 350-pound man move around the field more fluidly than some linebackers quelled a lot of concerns.
There isn't much I can say about Glenn that I haven't already. If the Lions get him, the only thing they have to decide is whether they want him to be Carl Nicks or Jason Peters.
Originally mocked: 04/15/12 in Round 2
I'm sticking to my guns on this one from last week.
I really like Lavonte David, and even though weakside linebacker might not be the position of greatest need for the Lions, David would likely bring the greatest upgrade in the second round.
David, really, is a first-round talent. But his stock will drop because he plays a non-premium position and only fits into about 10 teams' defensive schemes. The Lions just happen to be one of them.
As a matter of fact, I'm so impressed with David that I wouldn't mind if the Lions traded up a few spots to get him. And I hate trading up in the draft. But David is going to be an impact player for someone, so he's worth the reach if it means he's making that impact in Honolulu blue.
Originally mocked: 11/06/11 in Round 4
I really wanted to slot Isaiah Pead here, but I can't, in all honesty, justify putting off the corner position until the fourth or fifth round.
Though I've accepted that the Lions may not take a cornerback in the first two days of the draft (and you should too), I deep down want them to address the position, and I want them to do it with a man-coverage specialist like Brandon Boykin.
Now, Boykin is slated to be a second-round pick, so the odds of him being available in the third (much less the fourth, as I listed in December) are not terribly good. But Boykin is coming off a leg injury that had him sitting out everything since the Senior Bowl, and those durability concerns might push him just far enough down the draft board for the Lions to snag him here.
Of course, the counterpoint to that is that teams aren't worried about his leg and are busy being enthralled with him work on film. If that's the case...well, maybe the Lions should take Pead after all.
Originally mocked: 04/08/12 in Round 4
Joe Adams might be the missing piece of the Lions offense.
Ever notice how the offense stalled at times it shouldn't have last season? How it seemed like they should have been able to convert a third down and couldn't?
Much of that has to do with a shoddy run game, sure. But it's also because the Lions have a subtle weakness in the intermediate passing game. Calvin Johnson and Titus Young are quality deep threats, they can dump it off short to their running backs or Brandon Pettigrew and Nate Burleson is a decent possession guy.
But Burleson never made good on his goal, and so the Lions simply doesn't have that dangerous slot receiver presence to catch five-yard drag routes and turn them into 20-yard gains.
But that's what Joe Adams does. Adams lacks polish, and his route-running isn't crisp enough to create separation like Wes Welker does, but his skill set matches, and he could develop into a very dangerous weapon if he gets the time.
Originally mocked: 01/26/12 in Round 5
I gave Malik Jackson a fifth-round grade all the way back before the Senior Bowl, and it doesn't look like much has changed.
Jackson is a perfect Lions pick here because A) he gets after the quarterback, and B) the flaws that push him down to the fifth round are mechanical or technique-based things that can be coached.
What Jackson brings is raw skill and athleticism. Kris Kocurek, the defensive line coach who brought you sleeper hits like Sammie Hill and Willie Young (and should probably be credited with the development of Cliff Avril), could have another slam dunk on his hands if he can mold Jackson's skills into a consistent pass-rusher.
Originally mocked: 04/15/12 in Round 7
If there's one thing we know, it's that the Lions love drafting offensive tackles in the late rounds. In this way, Kevin Murphy follows the same path as Lydon Murtha, Jason Fox and Johnny Culbreath.
But this is still an OK pick because—and I'm totally serious here—Murphy went to Harvard.
One thing that offensive linemen don't get credit for is how intelligent they have to be to read defenses, spot blitzes and determine their assignments on the fly. Murphy seems like someone who would pick that up pretty quickly.
Of course, all the Ivy League education in the world won't help him from being bowled over on a bull-rush, but he has time to bulk up, too.
If the Lions make this move, it should be a sign they're ready to let one of their developmental linemen go. The tough question is, who? Neither Fox nor Culbreath have played or practiced hardly at all since joining the team.
Are their injury issues going to keep them out of action for the long-term, or will this be the year one of them makes an impact?
Or is this the year we find out that they make no impact healthy, either?
Originally mocked: 02/02/12 in Round 7
Like Malik Jackson, this is right up the Lions' alley. Chigbo Anunoby is a small-school prospect with huge size, work ethic and lots to learn.
He's another Sammie Hill, effectively.
With Hill, Andre Fluellen and Corey Williams both looking at free agency in 2013, it's none too early to start thinking about the next generation, even with the dominant Ndamukong Suh/Nick Fairley front the Lions look to post next season.
Anunoby is the right kind of player from the right kind of environment for the Lions' known strategy, and if he pans out, even as a depth player, he's a huge success for a seventh-rounder and further proof that the Lions can spin straw into gold with late-round defensive linemen.
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