After completing my first prediction of the Detroit Lions 2011 draft and reflecting on both my selections and the comments that were made, I have decided that there is some room for improvement. Therefore, this is my second attempt at picking for the Detroit Lions. I, for one, think it would be an even better draft than my first attempt.
Like the last mock draft, I will not subscribe to the best player available theory. Instead I will be making decisions based on the best player available in a position of need. I will also theorise the trades that Mayhew and co could make to get enough high picks to grab more than two first season starters.
In this mock the Lions are doing plenty of wheeling and dealing in the first round, so I will run through both the trades that get the Lions to the 19th overall pick before going into detail on the selection.
First trade with San Diego Chargers
The first trade of the day is a first rounder swap with the Chargers. San Diego will at least want to leapfrog New England and Miami to get the best mid first round 3-4 prospect (Cameron Jordan, J.J. Watt, Aldon Smith or Robert Quinn), and maybe even jump ahead of the Rams to steal Julio Jones from under their noses to add more depth to their receiving corps.
For the Lions, they do not really need anyone who carries a 13th overall grade. Instead, they will want to trade back towards the 20th pick. Therefore, a trade with the Chargers fulfills this need.
In my estimation, the Chargers will give up three picks to move up to 13th overall. These will be the 18th pick of the first round, the 29th pick of the second round and the 18th pick of the third round.
Second trade with the New York Giants
Now that the Lions are selecting at 18th overall, it is likely that of the offensive tackles only Tyron Smith will be off the board. Now, while the Lions will not really care who they got out of Castonzo or Gabe Carimi, the team picking directly after them, the Giants, will. They will have their eyes firmly set on Carimi as a powerful mauler in the running game, which is a big part of their offense.
With this in mind, the Lions could trade picks with the Giants in exchange for the Giants' third round pick.
This trade will work for the Lions because they would be happy with either tackle. Castonzo is a better pass blocker but can still hold his own in the run game, and Carimi is the opposite.
The Lions would love to get hold of Castonzo as a franchise left tackle to replace Jeff Backus. He is tall at 6'7" and carries his weight well. He is athletic and quick footed, and while not really powerful, he is able to blanket defenders as a run blocker. He suits the pass first mentality of the Lions, and as a technically sound four year starter he will be as NFL ready as they come.
Although not as athletic as Nate Solder nor as powerful as Gabe Carimi, Castonzo showed that he had a good balance of agility and power at the combine. What's more, in the even more important Senior Bowl he was the consensus best left tackle there, beating out Solder, Carimi and Derek Sherrod for that title.
More trading, this time up into the start of the second round is the order of the day for the Lions.
Third trade with the New England Patriots
We all know how much the Patriots love to trade back in rounds to get more future picks, and this is almost guaranteed to be the fate of the first pick in the second round.
For the Lions, it should allow them to get hold of a second first round talent in a position of need.
To do so, they would need to send the Patriots their second second round pick (29th) plus one of their three third rounders (18th), their sixth rounder (19th) and a third or fourth round pick in 2012.
After trading up, the Lions would be able to grab Jimmy Smith with the first pick of the second round. While his character concerns have been documented they have been overblown by the media. And a bit of arrogance is good in a corner back.
When looking past his character, he should really be taken in the middle of the first round. He is big and tall, very strong and a top press coverage corner. He is a willing tackler, fluid for his size and ran a 4.46 at the combine. He would be a day one starter for the Lions at cornerback next season.
Titus Young is close to my favourite wide receiver in the draft, so the fact that he has dropped into the late middle of the second round is music to my ears.
He is not a big, physical wide receiver but has everything else. He is not 4.3 fast, but still has plenty of deep speed. What's more, he has two step acceleration, so plays a lot faster than he is. He is the best route runner in the draft, who combines his great acceleration with super sharp breaks to get open.
He has safe hands, and could be used as a slot receiver in the screen passing game because of his run after the catch ability or as a vertical route receiver in the mould of DeSean Jackson.
The Lions passing attack would be complete with his addition. Stafford would return to football with one of the best wide receiver and tight end corps in the nation.
Along with the secondary, the Lions have a serious need to add some more starting linebackers to complement De'Andre Levy and any free agency moves they might make.
K.J. Wright is not a straight line speed guy, but has good first step speed, strength and instincts. He is able to anchor the run as a middle linebacker and also agility to get around blocks and make plays. He is comfortable in both man ans zone coverage, and is a powerful and safe tackler.
He looks like the best fit for a strong side linebacker who can cover the middle position. Wright is a good prospect who would likely start from day one in the Lions weak linebacker corps.
This is not the right Curtis Marsh, but they both play in blue and have the same name.
With the Lions second pick in the third round, they will be able to grab another good press coverage corner back, and make searching for a very expensive defensive back on the free agent market unnecessary. He is the Utah State performer, Curtis Marsh.
Marsh only recently switched from running back to corner back, and it shows in the physical way he plays the game. While he may not be a finished product he has deep speed, good flexibility and ball skills and the strength to be a good number two corner back. He is a willing and hard hitter as a tackler, but lacks the refinement in his technique at this stage. He does a good job redirecting at the line with his long arms, can turn and run with receivers and has a knack for going up at the right time to get something on a pass.
His greatest achievement in his last season was his inspired performance against the elite Boise State receivers, Austin Pettis and Titus Young. He knocked them off their routes early and then showed the speed and agility to keep with them as they went down the field.
He will not start as even a nickel back in his first season, but should be a solid contributor on special teams who "gets it" in year two and becomes a good complement to Jimmy Smith.
After going so long without drafting a linebacker, the Lions will pull the trigger on two talented guys who are going to drop. Herzlich especially was a first round calibre linebacker until he had his battle with cancer. He is not yet back to full strength, which is going to cost him on draft day as teams look at him as a injury concern who lacks athletic ability.
I see him in a much different light. Herzlich is a natural leader with possibly the best instincts and intangibles of anyone in the draft. He is a sound tackler, and deceptive blitzer and is comfortable in zone coverage.
The real reason for getting Herzlich is the possibility that he becomes the player he was before cancer. He could play at any outside linebacker spot and was a playmaker in every sense of the word.
Herzlich would not be expected to play in his rookie season, but would join Aslee Palmer and Bobby Carpenter in competing for the other linebacker spot beside Wright and Levy.
With the Lions' final pick of the draft they will be looking to get a developmental player to take over for Dominic Raiola when his contract runs out. While Bartholomew looks to be another under sized prospect, he is by no means weak. He put up 34 reps at 225 lbs at the combine.
Bartholomew is an athletic player who looks his best in pass protection, where he can use his quick feet and reach to mirror pass rushers. He will need to add more strength to his lower body in the offseason and in 2011 to be able to hold up consistently in the run game at the NFL level, but his up powerful upper body is testament to his commitment in the gym. I am sure he will have no trouble getting his overall strength up to par.
Considering free agency does not occur (which very well might be the case), I will put on the record what I think the starting offensive and defensive formations will be, along with the back ups.
QB: Matt Stafford
RB: Jahvid Best, Maurice Morris
FB: Jerome Felton
WR: Calvin Johnson, Titus Young, Nate Burleson (slot), Tony Scheffler
TE: Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler
LT: Anthony Castonzo
LG: Rob Sims
C: Dominic Raiola
RG: Stephen Peterman
RT: Jeff Backus
DE: Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril
DT: Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams
OLB: Ashlee Palmer (weak), De'Andre Levy (strong)
MLB: K.J. Wright
CB: Chris Houston, Jimmy Smith, Alphonso Smith (nickel), Curtis Marsh (dime)
SS: Erik Coleman
FS: Louis Delmas