Lions 2013 Mock Draft: The Smartest Pick Detroit Can Make at Every Spot
It's a position the Lions thought they were out of, but apparently fortunes don't change that quickly.
But now isn't the time to lament sour grapes, and it's already past time to discuss who should be hired or fired. After all, effective NFL front offices aren't the ones that avoid mistakes; nobody can do that.
Effective front offices are the ones that are able to correct their mistakes, and the NFL Draft is the best opportunity for the Lions to do just that.
But first, a few words about the draft order.
You'll notice that the Lions' pick rotates between third and fifth in each round. Since the Lions finished with the same record as the Eagles and Raiders, each of those teams will alternate picks within their draft slots.
The tiebreaker is strength of schedule, and since the Lions had the toughest schedule of the three by a wide margin, they will draft fifth in the first round, fourth in the second, third in the third round, and then back to fifth.
That said, it is likely that the Lions will pick up a compensatory pick or two for the free-agent losses of Erik Wright and perhaps someone else (Drew Stanton?), but we won't know that for several weeks.
For the same reason, each individual pick will not be listed in terms of where it fits in the overall draft order, since we already know the draft order is going to change.
So that said, the only thing else to keep in mind is that during draft season, everybody disagrees with everyone else, and that's okay.
Just keep that in mind whenever you're tempted to transform into a shrieking ball of pure rage during draft discussions.
1st Round, Pick No. 5: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Manti Te'o NFL Player Comparison
This is the low-hanging fruit here.
The Lions have a legitimate shot at getting perhaps the biggest name in the draft this year, and they have two of their starting linebackers poised to leave in free agency.
What the Lions do with those free agents, DeAndre Levy and Justin Durant, likely determines whether or not this makes any sense at all, but another part of it is about Te'o himself. Can he play on the outside? Should he?
The Lions are unlikely to move Stephen Tulloch out of the middle just one year into a five-year contract, so Te'o would have to shift to the outside in a 4-3 to make it work.
There should be little doubt that one of the most well-rounded linebackers to come out of college in years can do whatever is asked of him, but would he have the kind of impact he's capable of as an OLB?
That's a question worth asking, but a better question whether he'd be the most talented player available when the Lions pick fifth? Arguably, the answer is yes, and that makes him a likely candidate for the Lions at fifth overall.
What the Lions might be most interested in with Te'o is his intangibles. The man is a noted leader, and he doesn't show any of the character issues that have haunted some of their more recent draft picks.
2nd Round, Pick No. 4: Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
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The Lions need to get younger on the offensive line. They started the movement by drafting Riley Reiff last year, and they need to continue this year.
The question is, where to start? The Lions need replacements along the entire right side of the line, and center Dominic Raiola is on his way out as well.
So the Lions can either figure out which position they want to shore up first, or they can draft Barrett Jones, who can play all of them.
And not only did Jones play every position at Alabama, he played on the interior line, run blocking for Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. That's a Heisman Trophy winner and a third overall draft pick, playing for a pair of National Champion teams (maybe three) that relied on their running game.
That sounds like a good decision, and it's an additional plus for the Lions, who love versatile offensive linemen.
3rd Round, Pick No. 3: Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
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Cornellius "Tank" Carradine was a likely first-round pick as he terrorized quarterbacks at Florida State.
Then he tore his ACL, and now it's hard to say.
By talent, Carradine seems like he belongs in the first round. He's FSU's leading tackler in 2012 (hard to do from the DE position), and was second in the ACC in sacks at the time of his injury.
That said, he's only a one-year starter, and the ACL injury will prohibit him from doing any workouts or performing at the Combine. He's likely to slip as the pre-draft process drags on, but if he falls all the way to the top of the third round, he's a potentially good value.
The Lions badly need to bring in some youth and talent at the DE position, with both Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril questionable (put mildly) to return in 2013. Moreover, they showed with Ryan Broyles that they're not afraid of drafting a guy rehabbing his knee.
5th Round, Pick No. 4: Baccari Rambo, S, Georgia
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The Lions may have no position more in flux than the safety position.
Can Louis Delmas ever stay healthy? Will he remain in Detroit? Is any other safety on the roster even serviceable?
A fifth-round pick isn't going to help the Lions answer any of these questions, and Baccari Rambo may not even fall to this point. But if the Lions can get him, there's no way he can make things any worse.
6th Round: Pick No. 3: Dion Sims, TE, Michigan State
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For a time, the Lions were rock solid at tight end. Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler caught the passes, and Will Heller cleaned up the rest while playing some H-back.
But Heller isn't anything special, and Pettigrew and Scheffler can't seem to hang on to the football.
It's possible something is going to have to give here, and if the Lions are looking to make some changes, Dion Sims could be worth a look.
7th Round: Pick No. 5: Josh Boyd, DT, Mississippi State
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When the Lions pick defensive linemen on the last day of the draft, good things happen.
In 2011, the Lions drafted Willie Young in the seventh round out of North Carolina State, who has been effective in limited snaps. In 2009, the Lions grabbed Sammie Hill out of Stillman College.
Hill has become such an integral part of the Lions' defensive rotation that the Lions may now find themselves looking for someone to replace him if he commands too high a price in free agency.
The Lions will be looking for at least one more defensive tackle for next year, even if they can keep Hill, because the odds are basically zero that the Lions bring Corey Williams and his contract demands back.
So the Lions kick the tires on 300-pound Josh Boyd. He's more of a space-eating run stopper (like Hill and Williams) than a slashing pass-rusher (like Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley), sure.
But given the rate that the Lions got beat by their own aggressiveness up front last year, they might do well to shore up the line with someone more apt to stay home.