By filling the primary vacancies on the depth chart already, general manager Martin Mayhew can truly evaluate his draft options based strictly on "best player available."
In order to provide some realistic context, I did an aggregation of a handful of some more prominent and respected mock drafts produced recently. Those include:
To keep it simple, any player mocked above Detroit's No. 10 overall pick in all five is ruled out. Doing that took all these prospects off of the board:
- South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
- Central Florida QB Blake Bortles
- Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
- Auburn T Greg Robinson
- Clemson WR Sammy Watkins
- Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
In addition, three other players were taken before No. 10 in four out of five. They all happen to come from the same school, Texas A&M:
- QB Johnny Manziel
- T Jake Matthews
- WR Mike Evans
Using the mocks as a guide, those three players are also taken out of the mix.
With those guys ruled out based on availability, the primary options left for Detroit are interesting and diverse.
North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Oklahoma State corner Justin Gilbert and Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan are the other non-quarterbacks that appeared in one or more mocks either mocked to the Lions or above their pick at No. 10.
Of that grouping, Ebron holds the broadest appeal. Unfortunately, the Lions just spent $16 million bringing back Pettigrew to play with last year's rookie phenom, Joseph Fauria, at tight end. It's hard to envision the Lions investing so much money and resources into that position.
Mayhew's intrigue in Barr is interesting. The pass-rushing specialist seems to be a better fit for a 3-4 defense. He's also still learning the intricacies of playing defense, having been a running back until two seasons ago.
Barr's upside is immense, and that clearly pique's Mayhew's curiosity; he spent the first day of free agency not in his office negotiating but rather in Southern California watching Barr work out, per the Detroit Free Press.
Mayhew also attended Gilbert's pro day last week (h/t MLive), and his size and speed certainly fit with the desire to get bigger, stronger and faster all over the defense. Yet he's eerily similar to last year's second-round pick, Darius Slay, who is expected to take over a starting slot this fall.
Barr's versatility and higher ceiling earn the nod. He brings flexibility and speed to new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin's defense.
The pick: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA