Detroit Lions Mock Draft: Projecting All 7 Rounds
When the Detroit Lions entered free agency last week there were more questions than answers.
With a total of six picks and potentially one or two extra compensatory picks coming, Detroit must find talent and strike on value like never before.
Choose wisely and the team keeps its momentum moving forward.
Choose poorly and the team takes another giant step back, likely spelling the end to the Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz era, who have built this team from scratch since 2009.
Read ahead and tell me if you agree or disagree with the picks that follow.
*All video is courtesy of draftbreakdown.com*
Round 1, Pick 5: OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
The Detroit Lions are losing a key piece of their offensive line, after 12 steady and solid seasons, Jeff Backus is deciding to hang up his cleats, per the Detroit Free Press.
Detroit will now have an additional need and gaping hole at what is arguably the most important position in all of football.
Adding further insult to injury, the Lions also lost Gosder Cherilus to the Cots via free agency, and, according to NFL.com's Ian Rappoport are also "considering" moving Riley Reiff to guard in 2013.
Add it all to together and the Lions have plenty of work to do on the offensive line, potentially having to replace as many as two starters before the start of next season.
Luckily for Detroit, either Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher could still be available when the Lions pick fifth overall.
Both have potential franchise left tackle ability but it is Fisher who is more likely to be available—although he has significantly closed the gap over the past few months.
In Fisher, the Lions would find their Backus replacement and future blindside protector for Matthew Stafford.
Choosing between tackle and defensive end will be a difficult decision, being that it is much harder to find a left tackle than defensive end should make this a little easier decision overall.
Especially when you consider how deep a draft this is for pass-rushing help.
Allowing Detroit to wait until the second round to fill their other huge position of need.
Round 2, Pick 4: DE Cornelius "Tank" Carradine
Tank Carradine is a player that has no business being available in the second round.
However, following a significant knee injury and very little starting experience it's not crazy to think this natural pass-rushing talent could fall out of the first round all together.
A projected first round talent prior to tearing his ACL, Carradine now has just his pro day to revitalize his image in the minds of NFL scouts—where he expects to be 100 percent healthy and ready to perform every drill and test he would have attempted at last month's NFL combine.
With excellent size at 6'4" 275 pounds and long arms, Carradine is able to use his natural length and power to fight through contact and beat offensive tackles around the edge.
Pairing this with his flexibility and ability to play with leverage and Carradine presents not only an upgrade from Cliff Avril against the run, but also a player capable of generating 10-plus sacks on an annual basis.
When you have that type of upside you generally don't last until the second round. However, in a unique situation and deep draft overall for the position, Carradine very well could fall and end up being one of the biggest steals of the entire draft.
Something the Lions would have to be foolish not to take advantage of, considering their hole at the defensive end position.
Round 3, Pick 3: C/G Barrett Jones, Alabama
Barrett Jones is the epitome of a low ceiling, high floor player.
Not everything he does is pretty or overpowering, however Jones is simply a football player who consistently gets the job done and maximizes his otherwise limited overall ability.
Having started 49 career games and won three national titles at Alabama, Jones has proven to be a dependable player with the added versatility to play multiple positions along the offensive line.
Something the Lions should surely value, having had the luxury of playing and starting two of the NFL's best iron men in Dominic Raiola and Jeff Backus for much of the past decade.
A player that is incredibly smart and epitomizes the phrase "high character guy", Jones is exactly the type of person you want in your locker room and anchoring your offensive line.
Getting a safe, solid and dependable starter in the third round is a great value and a player that would make the Lions' offense all the more effective, despite being an otherwise unsexy pick.
After all, Jones' old ball coach Nick Saban seems to have a lot of praise for him in this video via AL.com. Something that should carry significant weight, considering the Bear Bryant-type legacy Saban seems to be building in Tuscaloosa.
Round 5, Pick 4: WR Tavarres King, Georgia
Hailing from Matthew Stafford's alma matter, King's ability to stretch the field and use his route running skills make him an ideal fit. King would ease into the four wide receiver and empty look sets that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan loves to utilize.
And, with both Ryan Broyles and Nate Burleson coming off season-ending injuries, the addition of King adds depth and stability to an otherwise uncertain position of need.
King gives Stafford yet another reliable target over the middle, capable of taking attention away from All-Pro Calvin Johnson.
This is something the offense desperately needs if they are to return to the playoffs in 2013 and take the next step towards becoming the NFL's most potent offensive attack.
Round 6, Pick 3: LB Michael Mauti, Penn State
The proverbial ambassador of the Penn State football program following the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Michael Mauti is a player whose presence reaches far beyond the football field.
At a time when Penn State players were free to transfer without restrictions, it was Mauti's proactiveness and enthusiasm that convinced many of his teammates to remain in Happy Valley to close out their careers.
And with Lions general manager Martin Mayhew on the lookout for players with "those leadership qualities" (via mlive.com), Mauti would be an excellent fit in an organization in need of more high character guys.
An all-conference type player when healthy, Mauti suffered three separate knee injuries during his career—leading him to be considered a major injury risk and likely candidate to fall to the later rounds of next month's draft.
However, at this point in the draft there may not be a better risk vs, reward option than Mauti—who inspired his teammates with the passion and professionalism he displayed both on and off the football field.
Football obviously means a lot to Matui, as his handwritten letters to NFL GM's shows.
The Lions need winners who display the resilient blue-collar attitude and approach to match the cities undying ability to persevere.
Adding Mauti here in the sixth does that and potentially much, much more.
Giving the Lions another young linebacker to compete for the starting spot vacated by free agent Jason Durant.
Round 7, Pick 5: P/K Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
With just one kicking or punting specialist currently on the Detroit Lions roster, adding a player via free agency or the draft is virtually all but certain.
Quinn Sharp gives you both.
Having the versatility to contribute as a punter or kicker, Sharp's strong leg makes him a special teams force and player capable of saving precious roster space.
And, with longtime kicker and fan favorite Jason Hanson still undecided on his football future (via Detroit Free Press), now could be the time to replace and move on from the inevitable—after 21 seasons of having been spoiled by Hanson's overall consistency.
That is unless the Lions honestly believe in Ndamukong Suh's sheer kicking prowess. In which this clip clearly shows they should not.
After all, Sharp would seem like a pretty fitting name for a guy whose career is to be defined by his accuracy.
Certainly he makes for a better option than a player who failed to make a simple extra point.
Wouldn't you think?