2011 NFL Mock Draft: Predicting the Detroit Lions

John Farrier@GriffWings UnitedCorrespondent IDecember 15, 2010

2011 NFL Mock Draft: Predicting the Detroit Lions

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    LSU All-American cornerback Patrick Peterson could be the future playmaker the Detroit Lions need to solidify their defensive backfield.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    For many of the lifelong pride-faithful that call themselves Detroit Lions fans, there is an annual event known among us as “The Detroit Lions Super Bowl”—the NFL Draft.

    Coming off the most prolific playoff era in Detroit Lions football history during the 1990s, the club would hire a former Oakland Raider and broadcast announcer to pilot a once-proud, four-time NFL championship team to the deepest depths of failure the franchise has ever known. 

    The addition of black to the Honolulu Blue and Silver was the kiss of death, led by the grim reaper himself, him whose name is Ichabod and shall not be spoken or repeated by the faithful.

    Generally speaking, the Detroit Lions were a team of complete ineptitude during the decade of the 2000s.  The former general manager displayed zero acumen in his ability to properly identify and develop talent from the annual draft selection process.

    The dearth of talent assembled throughout that era left the team bereft of a single victory during the 2008 campaign, and a meager handful of wins during the past two seasons.

    Every offseason, Detroit Lions fans immerse themselves—well, not all fans, as there are plenty of “Grinches” among the true fans (and they most definitely know who they are, and so do discerning Lions fans)—in the hope that the Lions will be smart and select players who will be able to contribute to both the short- and long-term success of this franchise during the rebuilding phase.

    Let’s not kid ourselves— the Detroit Lions were THAT bad.  The fact that the team is consistently competitive, even when playing second or third-string players at numerous positions (or having burned through the “fifth and sixth” string at linebacker this year), shows just how far this team has come since earning the title of “Owen XVI Champions.”

    I feel excited about the team’s defensive line in the same way I did about my childhood heroes, the Silver Rush, every time they suit up to take the field.

    Could you say you felt excited about the Detroit Lions defensive line taking the field during the 2008 season?  How about during the 2009 campaign?  I agree, not so much.

    Oh what a difference an offseason can make as it pertains to the overhaul and retooling of the Detroit Lions defensive line. 

    Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew will have an opportunity to shore up other position groups in need of a talent infusion during the upcoming offseason, where the defensive back seven stands to gain considerable attention. 

    The other obvious need is to be able to run the ball at a consistently high level, and factors have yet to come together to turn that dream into reality for the 2010 Detroit Lions, although this year’s offensive line looks better than the 2009 crew.

    I have been a Detroit Lions mock draft enthusiast for several years.  My selections are largely guided by the information made available by the fine people at NFLDraftScout (www.nfldraftscout.com) and Drafttek (www.drafttek.com).  Michael Sudds is a draft prospect authority and his opinion is one that I highly value. 

    I would like to credit these sources, as well as make them available to you in your quest to “mock the Detroit Lions draft” like many of us do.

    Here is the template from which I will be working as of today, December 15, 2010.  The Detroit Lions have their own picks in Rounds 1 through 6 (1.-6.a.), plus Philadelphia’s sixth-round pick (6.b.), for a current total of seven picks in the 2011 NFL Draft.

    No.      Rnd     Ovrl

    1.         1.         (3)

    2.         2.         (35)

    3.         3.         (67)

    4.         4.         (100)

    5.         5.         (134)

    6.         6.a.      (173)

    7.         6.b.      (195)

    I try to allow for a reasonable number of compensatory picks beginning at the end of the third round to give a more realistic feel for where the overall selection will be made.  I will offer primary and alternate player picks for each prospective draft selection.

    Let’s get started and GO LIONS WIN!

Pick No. 7, Round 6 (Pick B), Zach Hurd, OG, Connecticut

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    Zach Hurd, OG, Connecticut

    Allow me to say that there is no disrespect intended to any of these fine young men, who each are outstanding, special athletes, and where I slot them in my mock draft process is not a slight to them or their ability. Rather my guess as to where they might fall in the draft results from a myriad of factors.

    The Detroit Lions have yet to truly solidify the play at the right guard position, and the notion that a late-sixth-round draft pick could become a starting guard for the Detroit Lions shouldn't be any crazier than an undrafted free agent starting for the Pittsburgh Steelers (causing the third-round guard prospect they drafted to sit).

    Zach Hurd is a big guy who has plenty of game experience against good competition.  His 6'7", 325-pound frame could help to plow the running lanes for RB Jahvid Best and company for seasons to come.

Pick No. 6, Round 6 (Pick A), Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

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    Chris Hairston, OT, ClemsonKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    If the Detroit Lions find Clemson left tackle Chris Hairston available when they pick atop the sixth round, I can't think of a much better value. 

    Hairston has proven highly valuable to the Clemson Tigers and has been an all-conference selection the past two seasons.  At nearly 6'6" and 325 pounds, this is a soon-to-be-former Tiger who I would like to see become a Lion.

    An alternate selection could be Arizona left tackle Adam Grant, who has a similar frame and is athletic. 

    Players such as Virginia Tech cornerback Rashad Carmichael or Northwestern linebacker Quentin Davie could be considered as alternate sixth-round selections as well.

Pick No. 5, Round 5, John Moffitt, OG, Wisconsin

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    Martin Mayhew would do well to bring DeAndre Levy's former team mates, OT Gabe Carimi and OG John Moffitt, to Allen Park from Madison!

    Honestly, Lions fans, if Martin Mayhew were to find a way to acquire the future services of the Wisconsin All-American offensive linemen, John Moffitt, and Outland Trophy winner Gabe Carimi (my preseason first-round Detroit Lions mock draft selection), to me, the 2011 NFL Draft would be a success.

    While John Moffitt has played guard at Wisconsin, I would hire him as my future center, even though he may play guard until the Lions part with longtime center Dominic Raiola. 

    While it may be hard to imagine this Badger still being on the board atop the fifth round when the Lions will make approximately the 134th overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, it was equally as difficult to imagine guys like Carl Nicks, Jeremy Zuttah, Duke Robinson or "Big" Herman Edwards to remain on the board as long as they did (and the Lions passed on all of them).

    If the Lions were to draft John Moffitt atop the third round, if that was their grade, I wouldn't throw a fit.  He's a player to target if I'm the "Grand Inquisitor."

Pick No. 4, Round 4, Nate Irving, LB, North Carolina State

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    Nate Irving, LB, North Carolina State

    The story of Nate Irving recovering from a horrible car accident that left him with multiple injuries is a tremendous testament to the healing of his body and his desire to return to the top of his game.  This outstanding young man has received All-America honors for his play at linebacker this year, and appears to have all the tools to help the Detroit Lions at the linebacker position.

    The idea that Julian Peterson would return after the 2010 season to the Detroit Lions seems remote at best.  Of the linebackers who started with the team during training camp, few have made it through the 2010 season healthy. 

    DeAndre Levy has struggled with injuries throughout the offseason, into the preseason, and during the regular season.  The Detroit Lions have to find linebackers who can step in when the starters are unable to play and offer the team a viable solution without a drop-off in the level of play.  Enter Nate Irving and the "linebacker draft class" of 2011.

    Irving has the size, speed and ability to play any of the linebacker positions, but could compete for immediate playing time at outside linebacker should Zack Follett not be physically able or the Julian Peterson slot become vacant.

    One thing is for certain: The Detroit Lions linebacker corps must tackle better in 2011.  A prospective playmaker like Nate Irving could be just what the doctor ordered in Detroit.

    Alternate fourth-round picks include Southern Cal center Kris O'Dowd or Texas cornerback Chykie Brown.  In O'Dowd the Lions would get a center about the size of Alex Mack with tremendous game experience and a large frame at about 6' 4 1/2".  Considering the rate at which Lions defensive backs get injured, Brown gives size, speed and skill at a position of need.

Pick No. 3, Round 3, Mason Foster, LB, Washington

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    Mason Foster, LB, Washington getting after a man of Troy.Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    The Detroit Lions have demonstrated the ability to land a strarting middle linebacker by using a 2009 third-round pick (76th overall), and I'm hoping they will be able to find pay-dirt again in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft and make Washington linebacker Mason Foster the Lions pick atop the third round.

    Mason Foster has been a standout in Pac-10 Conference play, leading the league in tackles twice, and being named First Team All-Pac-10.  Mason was also given All-America recognition by Rivals and Scout.

    Mason Foster has the size and athleticism to play middle linebacker in the NFL, and being more stout in size than DeAndre Levy, could allow the Lions flexibility to play Foster inside and perhaps move Levy back outside to outside linebacker, where Julian Peterson isn't likely to return. 

    In either event, it would seem beneficial to have a tackling machine such as Mason Foster on a team where tackling machines have yet to be found in the back seven.

    Alternate picks in the third round include Texas cornerback Aaron Williams or Miami (FL) linebacker Colin McCarthy.  The Detroit Lions need an infusion of young talent in the defensive back seven and the players mentioned here could be helpful in that endeavor.

Pick No. 2, Round 2, Greg Jones, LB, Michigan State

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    Greg Jones, LB, Michigan StateJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Every year there seems to be a handful of players who slip from the first round and land atop the second round, only to go on to do great things for the benefitting team. 

    Recently, Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis found himself in that scenario, only to be selected by the St. Louis Rams at the top of the second round, and continued to be the tackling machine in the NFL that he was in the Big Ten.  Years ago, another former Buckeye was in a similar situation and the Detroit Lions made him their man in the middle: Chris Spielman.

    My hope for the Detroit Lions is that either Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones or Oklahoma linebacker (should he declare for the draft) Travis Lewis would be available for selection atop the second round in the 2011 NFL Draft.  Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz looks for talented, multi-dimensional playmakers to man his defense, and either Greg Jones or Travis Lewis could contribute in that regard.

    Should the two-time consensus All-America and three-time First Team All-Big Ten player be selected ahead of the Lions pick atop the second round and Wisconsin left tackle Gabe Carimi still be on the board, Carimi would be my selection.  The Oakland Raiders have shown drastic improvement because of their ability to run the football this season, and that is something the Detroit Lions could stand to responsibly borrow.

    And now, on to the No. 3 overall selection in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.  The Detroit Lions select...

Pick No. 1, Round 1, No. 3 Selection Overall, Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

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    Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU, making a play against Ole Miss.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    There once was a time in Detroit when a Duck was preferred over a Longhorn, and Lions fans got "ducked" with the No. 3 overall selection when the former general manager selected Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington over Texas shut-down cornerback, Quentin "One Bad Mammer" Jammer.  Jammer still plays at a high level and Harrington is merely a bad memory for the loyal, long-suffering fans of the Detroit Lions. 

    Time to get it right.

    Should the Detroit Lions find Patrick Peterson on the board with the No. 3 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, they would do well to secure the future services of the Bayou Bengal.  The All-American cornerback could reduce the size of the playing field for the offense with his tremendous athletic ability and playmaking qualities. 

    Recently acquired cornerback Chris Houston has indicated an interest in testing the free-agency market, and the Lions' best cornerbacks after that are on the injured reserve list (Alphonso Smith and Aaron Berry).

    The addition of Patrick Peterson would seemingly do wonders to increase the effectiveness of the Detroit Lions defensive backfield.  The selection of Iowa cornerback Amari Spievey has not lent itself to Spievey playing cornerback, rather being switched to strong safety and paired with Louis Delmas.  Since Spievey's hips don't appear like they are ever going to "loosen" enough to play cornerback, the Lions will need to continue to add to the ranks at corner.

    If they can get those Jets to land in Romulus, David Harris and Antonio Cromartie should be held for a four-year layover.

HäMMëR's Detroit Lions 2011 NFL Mock Draft 1.0, December 15, 2010

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    Detroit Lions fans got a dandy when Martin Mayhew made Ndamukong Suh the No. 2 overall selection in 2010, and hope Mayhew can do it again in 2011.Leon Halip/Getty Images

    So, Detroit Lions fans, here we are at a glance, with HäMMëR's 2011 Detroit Lions Mock Draft v. 1.0, December 15, 2010:

    No. Rnd Ovrl Player Pos College Ht Wt 40-yd
    1. 1. (3) Patrick Peterson CB Louisianna State 6'1" 211 4.42
    2. 2. (35) Greg Jones OLB Michigan State 6'1" 235 4.64
    3. 3. (67) Mason Foster OLB Washington 6'2" 245 4.73
    4. 4. (100) Nate Irving MLB North Carolina State 6'1" 232 4.68
    5. 5. (134) John Moffitt OG Wisconsin 6'4" 323 5.26
    6. 6.a. (173) Chris Hairston OT Clemson 6'7" 325 5.18
    7. 6.b. (195) Zach Hurd OG Connecticut 6'7" 325 5.16


    Rock on and GO LIONS WIN!