Detroit Lions Mock Draft: How to Fix Biggest Problems in 7 Rounds
After the disaster in the desert on Sunday it's clear the Detroit Lions' have their work cut out for them this offseason. They made an inferior Arizona Cardinals team look like world beaters and proved that they have a long way to go, and many problems to fix, before they can consider themselves playoff ready.
Matthew Stafford deserves the majority of blame for that loss, yet he represents the only position the Lions won't look to either upgrade or add depth to this offseason.
Every other position is fair game.
The Lions have over 20 players that will become free agents this summer so there will certainly be opportunity for change.
It's a slippery slope though. General manager, Martin Mayhew, must make the right decisions about who to keep and who to let go. He also must select players in the draft that can fill those holes and make an impact in 2013.
Like Riley Reiff and Ryan Broyles did this year.
Here's how the Lions can address their biggest problems in seven rounds.
Round 1: Damontre Moore, DE
Martin Mayhew approached the last four drafts with a best-player-available philosophy but it's time for him to tweak his style. When he took over the job he was trying to rebuild a team devoid of talent.
That's not the case anymore.
The Detroit Lions have holes, but they also have talented players in many key spots. It makes sense that Mayhew would now target specific positions of need.
Defensive end is a big one, and Damontre Moore is the highest rated prospect at that position in the draft, according to ESPN.
The Lions have good depth with Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young, but there is reason for concern with their starters. Kyle Vanden Bosch's age is catching up to him and, unless he discovers the fountain of youth this offseason, he should not be a starter in 2013.
On the other side, Cliff Avril's contract dispute with the Lions was well documented last year. It won't get any easier this year either. Detroit will use the franchise tag on another player, and Avril won't decrease his price.
In other words the Lions best pass rusher over the past two seasons will go to the highest bidder.
There will be someone that will overpay for him, even if his season isn't quite as good as last year. It's not far off though. Plus he's only 26 years old.
Without Avril, the Lions will be hurting for a pass rusher. That's why Moore makes sense. Their defense is only as good as their pass rush and the guys on the edge are a huge part of that. Moore fits their scheme perfectly.
He's versatile enough to play linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme, but in the Lion's wide-nine he'll excel. He's at his best when he can use his speed to beat slower offensive lineman one-on-one. He's also ready to play now and will compete for the starters job from day one.
Round 2: DaVonte Holloman, S
The 2013 draft is strong at the safety position. There are potentially six players that could go in the first two rounds.
Obviously the Detroit Lions should make it a priority to pick up one of those prospects. The only safeties under contract next year are John Wendling and Tyrell Johnson and they aren't starters.
The most important free agent the Lions have is Louis Delmas. They'll give him the franchise tag, but in the big scheme of things that doesn't mean too much. He'll be around next year but he needs to demonstrate an ability to stay on the field.
History suggests that he can't, so adding a top-tier safety in the draft is a priority.
Potential safety prospects in Rd 2 are: Matt Elam, Tony Jefferson, T.J. McDonald, Bacarri Rambo and DeVonte Holloman.
I like Holloman simply because of his unique combination of size, speed and strength. He's not the best cover man, but he's excellent against the run.
Round 3: Justin Pugh, OT
By Round 3 the "elite" offensive tackle prospects will be long gone. However Justin Pugh is no slouch. He needs to add some bulk but that's what the offseason is for.
As far as technique and skill at the position, he's a top prospect
The Detroit Lions drafted a tackle with their first overall pick last year. However, their line needs to be overhauled. It's one of the oldest units in the NFL, and four out of five starters will be free agents in the next two years.
Right tackle Gosder Cherilus is on his way out. Take a look at the second quarter of last Sunday's game against Arizona for the reasons why. In a span of nine minutes he tallied three penalties and helped derail the Lions' offense.
He'll be a free agent and he doesn't deserve a raise for his inconsistent play. Some other team might overpay for him though.
If so, the Lions should let him walk.
Pugh could effectively take over for him and/or add depth.
The Lions' OT Jason Fox was a healthy scratch all year. He'll be a free agent but they'd benefit by giving him a chance to see what he can do in Cherilus' spot.
Pugh would be a great insurance policy to the oft-injured Fox.
Round 4: No Pick
The Detroit Lions sacrificed their fourth-round pick last year. They traded it to the Minnesota Vikings to move up in the draft and select Tahir Whitehead.
Don't be surprised if Martin Mayhew makes a move to add another pick here, or in another early round though.
If the Lions are able to add a pick in Round 4, here are two selections that would make sense.
1. Duke Williams, S: He's been a dominant defender at Nevada, but according to Sporting News NFL scouts wonder if he has the athleticism to make it in the pros. The fourth round is good place to draft such a prospect and taking another safety would not be a bad thing.
2. Denard Robinson, WR: The Lions need a deep threat like Titus Young needs an attitude adjustment and Robinson is pure speed. Regardless of his position on the field—RB, WR or KR—he's a home-run threat like Jahvid Best was.
The only question is whether he'll be on the board in the fourth round.
Round 5: Tavarres King, WR
Did I mention that the Detroit Lions need receivers?
Over the past few weeks, their high-flying passing attack has been grounded and it's obvious they need more play makers.
Calvin Johnson looks as dominant as ever, but no other receiver has stepped up. If the Lions go into next year with Kris Durham, Brian Robiskie and Mike Thomas as their go-to guys opposite Johnson, they'll be looking at another losing season.
Martin Mayhew won't let that happen. With Titus Young and Nate Burleson not likely to return, it's time to add some young legs.
That's exactly what Tavarres King is. He's got the top-end speed and big play ability that the Lions need to compliment Johnson and slot receiver Ryan Broyles.
He stretched the field at Georgia his senior year to the tune of 847 yards, eight touchdowns and 21.7 yards per catch.
Despite his speed he's only the 12th best receiver in the draft, according to ESPN. That's because he only possesses average height and needs to add strength.
However he's already two inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than Young is.
Drafting receivers might bring up bad memories for fans, but the Lions have to surround Matthew Stafford with weapons if the offense is going to work.
King is a weapon and would add a dimension the offense lacked this year—speed.
Round 6: Aaron Mellette, WR
If the suggestion that the Detriot Lions select three receivers in the same draft seems like pure folly, simply look back one year. No one expected them to draft three cornerbacks and three linebackers in the 2012 draft, yet they did.
It wasn't the end of the world.
What was once a strength is no longer. The Lions need to upgrade their receiving corps and given Martin Mayhew's history in free agency, he's going to get his guys in the draft.
Aaron Mellette, from Elon University, certainly isn't a household name. However he is a fantastic prospect who's garnering a lot of attention around the NFL. Most still have him ranked in the late rounds, but that could change after the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine.
As a senior he had 97 receptions, 18 touchdowns and 1,398 yards in only 11 games (cbssports.com), but what's more intriguing is his 6'4" 212-pound frame. For the Lions his work ethic and lack of "red flags" will also be attractive.
He could be a late-round steal.
Round 7: Branden Smith, CB
After drafting three cornerbacks in 2012 it might seem like overkill to target another one, even in the later rounds. However, the Detroit Lions still have major question marks at the position.
Chris Houston is a free agent, as is just-injured Jacob Lacey. Dwight Bentley will be coming off a season-ending shoulder injury as well, and Chris Greenwood hasn't played a down in the NFL yet.
In other words the position isn't exactly secure. That's par for the course in the Lions' secondary though.
Branden Smith is projected to be a late-round pick but has some impressive qualities. Most notably his top-end speed and aggressiveness in run support.
He could stand to bulk up a bit and refine his footwork (ESPN), but he'd add depth and if everything goes as planned, the Lions wouldn't have to rely on him this year. With some refinement he could be a star of the future.
What more could you ask from a seventh-round pick.
Plus, he already has one marijuana-related arrest to his credit. He'd fit right in with Detroit.