Breaking Down Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay's Detroit Lions Draft Projections
Over at ESPN, Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay are the draft experts, and they'll tell you as much anytime you ask.
These guys carry the authority at the "worldwide leader in sports," and that makes them pretty much beyond reproach, right?
I've been doing seven-round mock drafts since January. Some of them you guys like, some you don't. And that's fine, but this time it's my turn. This time, I get to pick apart someone else's mock draft, and you guys get to watch the carnage.
But then again, these guys are trusted, well-paid analysts at the world's biggest sports media company. Maybe I'll agree with everything they say.
Maybe you'll just have to find out.
Note: McShay and Kiper both have a mock draft of sorts, and Kiper also has a "Grade A" draft, in which he plays GM for every team and also engineers trades.
Kiper insists it "IS NOT A MOCK DRAFT," but regardless, the "Grade A" draft is almost exactly the same as his two-round mock, and it goes a round longer, so I'm using that.
McShay doesn't pick past the first round, but he discusses multiple potential scenarios in the first, so I'll discuss each of his first-round projections separately.
Links to the draft projections are below, but beware: They sit behind ESPN's "Insider" pay wall, which is why you haven't seen them yet.
Kiper's Round 1 Pick
Trade!: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (Lions trade with Kansas City for No. 1 Overall Pick)
That's right, folks. In true sensationalist fashion, Mel Kiper Jr. has projected a trade up to No. 1 for the Lions, who skip past Philadelphia, Oakland and Jacksonville and swap picks with Kansas City to take cornerback Dee Milliner of Alabama first overall.
Okay. I'm legitimately angry right now, so deep breath.
This is not a good decision. The only thing worse than taking Milliner fifth overall is giving up extra picks to take him first overall.
Clearly, Kiper seems enamored with Milliner's potential, to the point that he seems to think all the teams in the top five of the draft are climbing over each other to get him. There's nothing wrong with that—he's near the top of the draft for a reason.
But this goes against everything the Lions are built on. This isn't drafting the best player available, it's selling out to get one player regardless of cost, when the roster is already full of players at the position. Admittedly, Mayhew tried to trade up to get Patrick Peterson in 2011, but he pulled back because the asking price was too high.
That was to move from 13th to fifth. If that asking price was too high, why would it be okay to move from fifth to first, when the price would likely be similar?
According to Kiper, "because of the lack of a consensus No. 1 (or No. 2) pick, the cost won't be as steep." That might make some sense, but the Chiefs are comfortable with Luke Joeckel at No. 1. They won't move unless they hear an offer they can't refuse. Plus, Kiper goes on to make the Lions' second- and third-round selections, so the trade couldn't have been for either of those picks.
So how exactly did the Lions move up to first overall without giving up a pick in rounds 2-4? Kiper doesn't say, so we have to speculate. Either they give up a 2014 pick in the deal, or there's something else going on.
Let's see. Kiper goes on to say, "thanks to the fact that I'm the GM of every team, the terms weren't too bad."
Oh. I see. What a useful thought experiment.
So, the Lions trade up to No. 1, get Milliner, and the Chiefs, adding insult to injury, take Eric Fisher at No. 5. Awesome.
Milliner at No. 5 overall is a shortsighted pick. Trading up to get him at No. 1 is wrong to the point that it reeks of a sensational attempt to grab headlines. Throw this pick in the trash, and let Skip Bayless pick it out and call it a playmaker. The Lions should want no part of it.
McShay's First-Round Scenario No. 1
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Okay, this I can get behind. I typically mock Fisher to the Lions myself, because offensive tackle is not the kind of position you fool around with when you have a franchise quarterback in his mid-20s.
More importantly, this is a good mix of need and value. Fisher would undoubtedly be one of the best players on the Lions board at this point in the first round, and there is no doubt as to what his position is.
Fisher would come into the league and protect Matthew Stafford's blind side for a decade. This might have been a good pick in February, but with Jeff Backus' retirement, and Gosder Cherilus' free-agent departure, the Lions would have nothing at all proven at either tackle position.
Fisher obviously isn't NFL-proven either, but he certainly does have the markings of an elite left tackle, and McShay bills Fisher as "the best natural pass-blocker in the class." That sounds like a good fit in the Lions offense, which set an NFL record for passing attempts last season.
Kiper's Round 2 Pick (36th Overall)
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Once upon a time, I mocked Werner to the Lions in the first round. Since then, his stock has slipped due to concerns about his athleticism and readiness to contribute at the NFL level.
Still, the Lions are in need of an effective pass-rusher, and concerns aside, Werner still has high potential, and was a good producer in college.
Kiper almost redeems his shameful first-round circus tent pick with this, which represents a more Lions-like pick. Werner is a guy who could be one of the best pass-rushers in the draft, but he is getting passed up by guys who had more impressive combines.
Still, nothing has changed about Werner. He's still the high-motor guy who notched 13 sacks in his senior season at Florida State, including 3.5 in one game against Florida. He needs to develop, but he has the tools to be a successful starter early in his career. He's good value in the second round.
McShay's First-Round Scenario No. 2
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
I don't like the idea of drafting Milliner anywhere, but I have to give this pick a little better grade than Kiper's suggestion that the Lions trade up to No. 1 to do the exact same thing.
By default, getting a player at No. 5 is a better value than giving up extra picks and getting that same player at No. 1.
There's nothing particularly wrong with Milliner to the Lions, but I'm not as high on his "shutdown" ability as some others, and if the Lions go to plug Milliner in as a starting CB, what happens to the three they drafted last year, all of which showed great potential in some way or another?
This isn't a pick so bad it would warrant boos on the stage. But it also isn't my favorite. It's like the Lions management admitting a mistake on the CBs they drafted in 2012, before they can possibly know which players are any good.
Kiper's Round 3 Pick (65th Overall)
Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall
I'm really not at all opposed to the idea of a wide receiver during the second day of draft picks, and Dobson is exactly the kind of player the Lions need on the outside.
Dobson is tall, lengthy and has good hands as a downfield receiver. The Lions need to be able to stretch the field with more than one player (Calvin Johnson, obviously), and Dobson would give the Lions that ability.
The third round might be a bit high for this pick, but the Lions can't really let that bother them if they think Dobson is their guy. With their next pick being a compensatory selection at the end of the fourth round, the Lions will have to make their third-round pick count, since it will be nearly two rounds between them and their next pick.
The knock on Dobson is that he lacks elite speed. But hey, he's also not being taken in the first round and he has some upside coming out of it. For this point in the draft, Dobson might not be the highest value player, which means he probably won't be the Lions' pick here.
But Dobson is a fit in the Lions' scheme, and he does look like the final step to the Lions having a full set of skill players on offense. I don't hate the pick, but I'm also skeptical of it.
McShay's First-Round Scenario No. 3
Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, DE, BYU
Seems like people are either hot or cold on this pick. That makes sense, considering Ansah himself will likely turn out to be either a hot or cold player.
Whoever picks Ansah is essentially putting money into a future. Not that Ansah can't be effective out of college, but he lacks polish. The team that drafts him will push him hard, because he is unlikely to come out of college playing like a No. 5 overall pick.
The hope would be that after a year or two, he starts playing like a No. 1 overall pick. Of course, that's a big hope.
I don't mind the pick of Ansah. He is the pass-rusher who seems most appropriately built for the Lions' pass-rushing scheme. In addition, the Lions employ one of the better defensive line coaches in the game in Kris Kocurek. If anybody can build Ansah up to his potential, it's Kocurek, who has had similar success with Sammie Hill and Willie Young.