Well it's that time of the year, more entertaining than Twitter fights and less accurate than some big company's taxes—Mock Draft Season. Around the NFL universe, analysts are doing their best to guess just who the Detroit Lions will select with the No. 5 overall pick.
Rather than make you hunt and peck around Al Gore's Internet, I have gathered several of the selections right here at the NFC North blog.
We'll do this a few times during the spring up until the draft—no more than every other week, as people don't crank out mock drafts all that often.
I tried to select more recent ones, especially post-Alex Smith trade, since that has the biggest impact on the top five picks.
Unfortunately that knocks out a few mocks I would normally include, like B/R's own Matt Miller (who is hip-deep in some small project called the B/R 1000) and Mel Kiper (who last updated his mock February 7th).
Inevitably I will miss some of your favorite writers, so be sure to include them in the comments and we can have a nice discussion, plus I'll try to add them to the rotation.
With that, let's take a spin around the mock draft universe and see who is saying what—and what makes sense.
You will see a trend or two, by the way. I can predict that much with accuracy.
Charles Davis—NFL.com/NFL Network
Milliner quieted speed concerns at the combine. The Lions need guys to cover NFC receiver threats.
The First Four: Davis has Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson as three of his top four picks—clearing out tackle as a possibility for the Lions. He also had the Raiders take Sharrif Floyd at three, and while I like the fit, I'd be shocked if they didn't grab the available Geno Smith.
While the tackle run certainly changes things for the Lions, Sharrif Floyd doesn't, as he plays one of the few positions the Lions have depth at.
Reaction: I would have loved to hear a little more from Davis on this, but I suppose he saves the best stuff for Path to the Draft. However, he does crack right down to the heart of it and hits on the argument I've been making for Milliner—you need to stop all the top receivers.
Is he a lockdown/cover corner? We don't really know. (Was Darrelle Revis Darrelle Revis when he first entered the league? Did anyone see Richard Sherman as a shutdown corner before this year? Since he was a fifth round draft pick, I'd say "no.")
That said, he doesn't appear to be that sort of player, but he is a guy who can hang with great receivers and make their lives miserable. The Lions simply don't have anyone like that.
So, not shockingly, I like the pick and agree with the tiny sliver of explanation here.
Speed rusher Cliff Avril led the Lions with 9.5 sacks this year but that may not be enough to keep him in Detroit after he once again heads into free agency. A year ago Detroit franchised him after he reportedly turned down a three-year deal. The Lions could do the same this year but would still have depth concerns...Jones projects best at outside linebacker but his primary job in the NFL will be attacking the line of scrimmage, just as it was at Georgia. Only concerns about Jones' health (he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in 2009) could push him out of the top five...
The First Four: Rang has Luke Joeckel off the board to the Chiefs at first overall, and Floyd to the Jaguars at two. He removes Bjoern Werner as a possibility for the Lions by sending him to the Raiders and then gives the Eagles Dee Milliner.
All are very likely picks as far as I am concerned, though I wonder if the Chiefs will hang with a tackle now that Brandon Albert is staying. Then again, he's just franchise tagged and may not be a long-term solution.
Which is really just a way to say we've very little idea what Kansas City will do.
So the Lions lose out on a pass-rusher, the top cornerback and one of the left tackles they might like.
Reaction: The biggest issue with Jones is the stenosis. As with Star Lotulelei (who has a heart condition), he has tremendous ability with a condition that might scare teams off. Assume that the Lions (and everyone else) are busy doing due diligence on Jones' condition right now.
I don't have much of an issue with Rang's reasoning, as the Lions do need help off the edge in a big way. Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh are quite the one-two punch inside, but there are so many free agents among the defensive ends and linebacker corps that they need to get help—and quickly.
That said, there are a lot of good edge rushers who could be around in Round 2, while there are very few tackles who will be worth that pick. With Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson on the board, do they skip it for a medical question mark at a position where there are plenty of players for the second and third round?
While I have some questions about Johnson, I certainly don't in terms of Fisher. So though I see the argument—and don't hate the pick—I think it's not one the Lions would make in this situation.
Selection: Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah (partial subscriber link beyond top 10)
...It's a tough call here between Ansah and (Eric) Fisher. Fisher is the safer pick, but this team needs perimeter talent to go along with the strength of its defense—Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley at defensive tackle.
And I get it. Ansah lacks experience. But study his tape from the second half of the season, then study his dominant performance in the Senior Bowl game. Then look at his freakish combination of workout results at the combine...
The First Four: McShay bucks every trend I've seen by having Utah DT Star Lotulelei go first overall to Kansas City. Now, McShay has him moving to defensive end, so it's a little different than just adding another interior guy. I don't know that I'll buy what he's selling, but I love a mock that does something different, especially since I don't have an issue with his reasoning.
After that, it's the usual suspects: Joeckel to Jacksonville, Floyd to Oakland and Milliner to Philadelphia.
Reaction: My initial thoughts are similar to the ones I had above—do they leave Fisher (or Johnson) on the table for a pass-rusher? Given your reaction to my breakdown of Ansah as a potential fifth overall pick, you won't think so.
Again, I'm not sold on them passing on Fisher, and it's further complicated by the fact that Ansah, while a physical freak, is pretty damned raw. As I said in the linked article, I like Ansah's upside and potential but I don't know if I go with him when edge pass-rushers like Bjoern Werner and Dion Jordan on the defensive line or Barkevious Mingo at linebacker are available.
This early, I want a sure thing and to me, Ansah isn't a sure thing.
I wouldn't implode over this pick, not at all. I would feel a twinge in the pit of my stomach, though.
What is the Lions' greatest need, defensive end or cornerback? The answer is debatable, but if they decide to lean towards the secondary, Milliner would be a great fit with his tough, instinctive ability to blanket opposing receivers.
The First Four: Brugler has the Chiefs go left tackle, but instead of Joeckel he throws a little wrench called "Eric Fisher" in the mix at one overall. He then sends Dion Jordan to Jacksonville, Floyd (again) to Oakland and has Joeckel to the Eagles.
Of the picks mocked to the Eagles so far, I like this the most. Seriously, I know it's tempting to mock a corner to Philadelphia right now, as Nnamdi Asomugha might be cut and has been awful since he got there, but how shaky was that offensive line.
Every mock I was thinking the same thing: how does Philly pass on a left tackle?
Answer in this case: they don't.
Reaction: As I said earlier, I am predisposed to like this pick as I have a high regard for Milliner. In this case, we don't even have Joeckel/FIsher to kick around so the pick makes even more sense.
I'd like to have heard more of Brugler's reasoning as to why he leaned towards defensive back as opposed to defensive end because otherwise it feels like he went with Milliner "because".
And as that's all I have, it's hard to argue with it.
That said, of course I like the pick.
He fills a need for a team that has struggled at corner for a long time.
The First Four: He has Joeckel to the Chiefs, Floyd to the Raiders (they should just sign him now, it seems), Dion Jordan to Philadelphia, but Barkevious Mingo as the second pick overall to the Jaguars.
I like the pick—in part because how awesome a name is that?—but am not sure how much defense Jacksonville will focus on.
Then again, they have so many needs, can you argue with almost any pick? Maybe left tackle, but other then that, they kind of need it all.
Reaction: Prisco doesn't give you much insight (I guess Rang does all that heavy lifting in his mock), which is once again too bad. Especially since Prisco knows a ton of football and always has a lot to say.
Give him credit for being succinct, I guess.
Which leaves me once again to say, "I like it, I can't argue with it," because there isn't much to argue.
On the other hand, Fisher is on the board and I have a hard time just winging by him without a hand wave. Prisco has him slip to San Diego at No. 11, so clearly he doesn't feel the same way. It would be a godsend for the Chargers, but I'm not sure he gets by the Lions and the Cardinals.
Tony Pauline—USA Today.com
Milliner, the top cornerback in the draft, will be a Week 1 starter.
The First Four: Joeckel goes to Kansas City and Werner goes to Jacksonville, while Lotulelei becomes a Raider and Jordan ends up an Eagle.
I don't have any particular issues with these picks, but will note that Fisher, Mingo and Floyd all drop and all are equally important positions of need for the Lions.
Reaction: Do you notice a trend? I notice a trend.
Actually I notice two trends, but I'll only focus on the football related one, not the "I won't explain myself" one.
Again, I like Milliner as a pick. As I said in the First Four section, there are plenty of very good players on the board and so while I like the pick, there are several others which could have been made and would have been very good matches.
Like I said, I can't argue with a one-sentence explanation. Indeed, Milliner is the top corner in the draft, and yes, he will be a Week 1 starter.
So there you have it, the Mock Roundup for the Detroit Lions' first-round pick. Without a doubt, the analysts like Milliner to the Lions. Basically it comes down to being in a tough division, in a tough conference which likes to throw the ball a ton and not having anyone to stop that from happening routinely.
There are certainly several other excellent ways to go. We've touched on a few today, and will continue to do so both in the Roundups as well as in individual player profiles.
Who should be the pick? Chime in down in the comments.