Detroit Lions Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
With the 2010-11 season now clearly in the rear-view mirror in Allen Park, Michigan, and the final celebration of the 2010-11 season concluded on Brush Street in Detroit, the 2011 NFL draft looms on the horizon, an event that is drawing increasing fanfare from all NFL fans.
The Detroit Lions capped their 2010-11 campaign win four straight wins to finish the season with a 6-10 record, and have worked their way down the draft board in the first round, where they will have the 13th overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.
For the past few years, a good many of the Pride Faithful have made it through the barren wilderness of Lions fandom by having something fun to look forward to in the absence of winning, and that something has been the NFL Draft.
For many Detroit Lions fans, the draft has become their “Super Bowl,” serving as something to cheer about in the hope that newly acquired players will add talent and that talent will soon translate into wins.
I have to admire Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz for sticking to his guns, and with the help of his coordinators, position coaches, staff, and players, and finally finding a way to congeal a banged-up squad and get some hard-earned victories.
During the months that lie ahead, I will try to alternate my selections to highlight prospective picks so that the Detroit Lions fan community can gain a greater appreciation for those players who might be found in Honolulu Blue and Silver come this spring and beyond. With a broader perspective in mind, I will try to offer multiple additional selections per round when appropriate.
HäMMëR’s version 2.0 features new player selections and an updated seven rounds. Just to provide continuity, here are links to my series of Detroit Lions mock draft articles:
2011 NFL Mock Draft: HäMMëR Predicts the Detroit Lions v. 1.2
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 and make them available to you in your quest to “mock the Detroit Lions draft” like many of the Pride Faithful.
Here is the template from which I will be working as of today, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011, which is a compilation of the Detroit Lions’ selections as found on www.walterfootball.com:
No. Rnd Ovrl
1. 1. (13)
2. 2. (44)
3. 3. (75)
4. 4. (108)
5. 5. (140)
6. 6. (188)
7. 7. (234)
I try to allow for a reasonable number of compensatory picks beginning at the end of the third round, and each round thereafter, to give a more realistic feel for where the overall selection will be made. When appropriate, I will offer primary and alternate player picks for each prospective draft selection.
Let’s get version 2.0 started with a lightning-fast Mustang!
Allow me to say that there is no disrespect intended to any of these fine young men, who are each 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 resultant from a myriad of factors.
When I watched the Detroit Lions receiver group during training camp in early August this past year, I had high hopes that someone would step forward and lay true claim to the third wide receiver position (WR3).
I hoped that between Bryant Johnson, Derrick Williams, Tim Toone, and Bryan Clark the club would be able to find a solid producer, but Bryant was again nothing to write home about, Derrick rarely dressed on game days, Tim broke his leg while on the practice squad and was placed on injured reserve, and Bryan was cut, only to be recently resigned for special teams duty.
I think the late rounds are the place for the Detroit Lions to continue to sift and winnow for “diamond in the rough” prospects at wide receiver, making this fast pony a good get near the end of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Southern Methodist University wide receiver Aldrick Robinson has 4.42 forty-yard speed with a 5’10” 178-pound frame. Robinson is a legitimate threat to score from anywhere on the field and has a 96-yard touchdown reception to his credit.
Aldrick Robinson is the only player in SMU history to have two 1,000-yard receiving seasons and was named to the All Conference USA First Team. Robinson offers excellent yards per catch and highly consistent production, qualities the Detroit Lions would love to get out of their third wide receiver. Landing Aldrick Robinson at this stage of the draft would be a real “get” for Mayhew, Schwartz & Co.
My paradigm is that there is always a late-round gem to be found that comes from outside the ranks of Division I (FBS) college football, and one of this year’s leading candidates is Northwest Missouri State cornerback Ryan Jones.
To the extent that players like Brandon Carr (GVSU, D-II) and Lardarius Webb (Nicholls State, FCS, formerly Division I-AA) have made effective contributions to the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens respectively, I would like to see Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew use his super-sleuth personnel decoder ring to make a great late-round selection with a player like Ryan Jones from NWMSU.
Jones was selected to the AFCA Division II Coaches’ All-America Team, with six interceptions and 19 passes defended. At nearly 5’11” and 195 pounds, Jones runs about a 4.42 40-yard, and should have both the speed and athleticism to be able to stay with NFL receivers and not get beat deep due to lack of foot speed.
Prospective alternate picks in the sixth round include West Virginia cornerback Brandon Hogan, Arizona left tackle Adam Grant, LSU left tackle Joseph Barksdale, Northwestern outside linebacker Quentin Davie, Connecticut guard Zach Hurd, and Texas cornerback Chykie Brown.
To me, this is where value meets the mark when a team can draft an All-America offensive tackle who has competed vigorously and victoriously against some of the best competition in the country hailing from the Southeastern Conference.
Auburn left tackle Lee Ziemba has prototypical size for the National Football League and could immediately compete for the right guard position in 2011, or even find himself at tackle as Cory Hilliard and Jason Fox have this past season. This type of player who is a swing tackle or can play guard has tremendous value for the folks in Allen Park.
Ziemba has competed at a high level since his true freshman season at Auburn University, and with Mayhew and Schwartz placing a high premium on games played, Big Lee would be a nice road grader for the Detroit Lions offensive line at about the 140th overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Prospective alternate fifth-round picks include Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews (great for Detroit – Green Bay rivalry, and to see which Matthews brother truly has the better hair) and former Muskegon Big Red wide receiver via USC, Ronald Johnson.
While it is early in the board-stacking process and difficult to know where this young man’s draft status ultimately lies, for sake of discussion, I’m going to have Rahim Moore on the board when the Detroit Lions select in the fourth round, making Moore the pick.
The 2010 Detroit Lions season proved unfruitful in terms of finding consistent production to pair with free safety Louis Delmas. Free agent veteran acquisition C.C. Brown, formerly with the New York Giants, and Iowa rookie Amari Spievey both manned the position opposite Delmas, but neither enjoyed a tremendous amount of success.
Spievey was Detroit’s third-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft as a cornerback coming out of Iowa. Playing cornerback at the NFL level does not appear to be Spievey’s forte and his body of work as a rookie at safety wasn’t incredibly impressive. That doesn’t mean I haven’t cheered like crazy for Amari to be successful all year, just my honest evaluation.
The selection of a player such as Rahim Moore would pair two top college safeties in the Detroit Lions defensive secondary, setting the stage to finally get the pairing right with Delmas. Moore is listed at 6’1” and 196 pounds and is stated to run the 40-yard in 4.5 seconds.
Rahim Moore was selected by the Associated Press as a Third Team All America in 2010 and received All Pac-10 First Team honors the past two seasons.
Prospective alternate fourth-round selections include Utah State cornerback Curtis Marsh, Clemson left tackle Chris Hairston, Wisconsin guard John Moffitt, and North Carolina State linebacker Nate Irving.
If you’re an advocate of drafting sure-tackling linebackers, Washington Huskies outside linebacker Mason Foster should fit the bill. Foster led the Pacific 10 Conference in tackles as a sophomore during the 2008 season and again in 2010 as a senior.
Mason Foster was named an All-America linebacker by the Associated Press (Third Team), College Football News, Rivals.com, and Scout.com. Foster also earned All Pac-10 Honorable Mention as a sophomore and junior before earning All Pac-10 First Team honors in 2010.
Foster was the second-leading tackler in the nation in 2010 with 105 solo tackles, 57 assisted tackles, and seven sacks. His stout performance in San Diego in the Holiday Bowl cemented a solid collegiate career that culminated in 372 tackles, 6 forced fumbles, 4 interceptions, and 11 sacks.
I see the Detroit Lions landing a significant free agent linebacker, such as Chad Greenway, to add to the mix in 2011, and selecting at least one, if not two, linebackers in the 2011 NFL Draft. Since the club seems satisfied with DeAndre Levy at middle linebacker, it is most likely the team will add players at the outside linebacker position, where Zack Follett had started prior to injury and Julian Peterson before his impending departure.
Bobby Carpenter had a strong day in Miami, leading the Lions in tackles on the day with eight solo and one assisted for nine total tackles against the Dolphins. He followed up the week-16 performance by leading Detroit in tackles during their season finale at home against Minnesota. Ashlee Palmer has had solid outings to finish the 2010-11 campaign as well.
Whether the Detroit Lions secure new talent to bolster the linebacker corps for the 2011 campaign via free agency or the draft, they need a group who is more consistent at tackling, shedding blocks, and defending the pass against backs and tight ends. If the Lions could be set with the base of Carpenter and Levy going forward, it could lessen the need to find quite as many bodies.
Prospective alternate third-round picks include Florida guard Mike Pouncey, Clemson strong safety DeAndre McDaniel, Miami (FL) linebacker Colin McCarthy, Texas Christian linebacker Tank Carder, and Nebraska free safety Dejon Gomes.
In the event that the Detroit Lions miss out on acquiring either Patrick Peterson or Prince Amukamara with their first-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions would do well to take a good look at the best cornerback still available when the team picks in the second round.
Jimmy Smith, the 6’2” 205-pound speedster from the University of Colorado, has seen action in about 40 games, but as a full-time starter only for the past couple of seasons. His play earned him 2010 First Team All Big 12 honors.
Big 12 teams tend to throw away from Jimmy Smith, so the opponent’s respect for his coverage ability has resulted in fewer opportunities for “stats” for Smith. Jimmy Smith is another playmaker who can take it “all the way to the house” anytime he is able to get his hands on the ball.
Regardless of who the Detroit Lions select in the first round, the second-round pick could be interesting as it may come down to such players as Jimmy Smith, North Carolina linebacker Bruce Carter, or perhaps another talented cornerback like Florida’s Janoris Jenkins.
Bruce Carter’s ACL injury is likely to slide him out of first-round consideration, and if the Lions select a cornerback in the first round (possibly Miami cornerback Brandon Harris) and Carter is still on the board when they pick in the second round, I think Carter simply changes shades of blue.
If Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller is the Detroit Lions pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, they could opt for two top linebackers, such as Miller and Carter, to bookend DeAndre Levy at middle linebacker for the next several years. This would alter the course of selections down the rounds, making it less likely that Mason Foster would be the pick in round three.
The other idea is that if the Lions were to select two cornerbacks in the first two rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft, perhaps Mason Foster, Nate Irving, and Casey Matthews become prospective targets respectively in rounds three, four, and five.
And who might the Detroit Lions be selecting with the 13th overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft?
In the 2009 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans were able to select former USC linebacker Brian Cushing with the 15th overall selection, and in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons were able to land former Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon with the 19th overall selection. In the 2011 NFL Draft, I hope the Detroit Lions hit big from the Lone Star state with Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller.
At 6’2” and 243 pounds, Von Miller runs a 4.56 40-yard dash, which would be very competitive with Aaron Curry when he came out of Wake Forest and became the fourth overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Not only is Miller fast, but he should test very well at the 2011 NFL Combine, where his 20-yard short shuttle and 3-cone drill performances should be among the best of the linebacker group. A 25-repetition exercise on the 225-pound bench press would immediately demonstrate that Von Miller possesses the upper-body strength to handle the physical rigors of his rookie campaign.
Unfortunately for some Detroit Lions fans, Miller could be selected prior to Detroit’s first pick at No. 13, leaving open a bevy of options and potential suitors.
If Miller is already off the board when the Lions are set to pick at No. 13, my first alternate candidate would be Miami (FL) cornerback Brandon Harris. At 5’11” and 195 pounds, Harris runs a 4.45 40-yard, and is blessed with loose hips, which helps to make him an appealing top cornerback prospect, as he will be able to turn and run with the receiver and defend the deep pass.
If Harris is the selection, Bruce Carter becomes the second-round pick for Detroit. If Von Miller is the selection, a cornerback such as Jimmy Smith could be the pick. If the front office simply wishes to fortify the front seven, take linebackers. If the front office wants to solidify the secondary, cornerbacks must be taken with top resources in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Whether the Detroit Lions select one cornerback and one linebacker in the first two rounds, or two of one and neither of the other, those players should make a difference during the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.
Von Miller could step right in at strong-side outside linebacker (LOLB) and fill the void of the soon-to-be-departed Julian Peterson, or he could be lined up at weak-side outside linebacker (ROLB). The interesting dynamic that could occur with the addition of both Von Miller and Mason Foster is that Detroit Lions fans could see Miller lining up behind left defensive end Cliff Avril and Foster lining up behind right defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, any of whom could create real trouble for the passer, while providing outstanding run support and getting out into pass coverage.
The Detroit Lions draft strategy of “best player available (BPA)” could also bring in to play the selection of a running back or wide receiver early in the draft process. If the Lions find both Von Miller and Brandon Harris on the board, they may be prone to take their No. 1 rated outside linebacker as opposed to their No. 3 rated cornerback. If they have the chance to take the No. 1 or No. 2 rated player at their prospective position, the front office has demonstrated that is their propensity (Stafford, Pettigrew, Delmas).
The other option at pick No. 13 is to field offers for a potential trade down and accumulate more picks and talent. Should Miller or Harris be available for selection with the 13th selection overall, I expect the Lions to pick one of them. I would hope they not pass on a prospective playmaker at a position of need, thus achieving BATFAN (best available that fits a need), which is totally bonus!
Ratchet up the machine for a playoff run in 2011!
GO LIONS WIN!
|2011 Detroit Lions Mock Draft: January 6, 2011 v. 2.0|
|1.||(13)||Von Miller||OLB||Texas A&M||6'2"||243||4.56|
|6.||(188)||Ryan Jones||CB||NW Missouri State||5'11"||195||4.42|
|7.||(234)||Aldrick Robinson||WR||Southern Methodist||5'10"||178||4.42|