Protecting this man and putting some starch in their back seven will be the goal of the Lions come draft day in 2011, and since that great day is fast approaching, I think it is time for my third version of a seven round mock draft for the "mighty" Detroit Lions.
If you want to see where I am coming from with this version, then I will provide links to them at the bottom of this page.
Please note that I will not explain the logic behind each trade on the slideshow any more. If you want to know why, look at the other two slide shows.
Some things never change, so for the third straight mock I have the Lions picking the Boston College standout left tackle in the first round.
To get to the 18th overall pick, the Lions will trade with the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers receive the Lions 13th overall spot, and give Detroit their first round selection (18th) and their second second round selection (29th).
Castonzo is the most pro-ready tackle in the draft after being a four year starter at the offensive tackle production line at Boston College. Castonzo is 6'7" and 311 lbs. He has long arms, good lateral speed and has the ability to be a good pass protector from day one.
In the run game Castonzo can hold his own, but will not dominate like Gabe Carimi or Tyron Smith. He is technically sound and gets to the second level well, but can be overpowered by strong defensive linemen. However, with some gym work on his lower body strength Castonzo should develop into a true franchise left tackle.
Another selection that stays the same, the first pick of day two will allow the Lions to get the third best corner back in the draft. Smith will conduct a draft day free fall not unlike Sergio Kindle did last season, but the Lions would be more than happy to end it with the 33rd pick of the draft.
Detroit will manouveur themselves into this pick by offering the New England Patriots the 12th pick of the second round, their fifth round pick and their third rounder next season.
While most teams, especially those with title aspirations next year will keep well away from Smith and his character red flags, the Lions would welcome him into the pride. He has the skills to be a true shut down corner, and is at his best in press coverage. For the record, this is exactly what the Lions need.
He is also fast and fluid enough to run with receivers in off man coverage. Smith is also a powerful tackler who is able to bring down running backs one on one.
Teams highlight that he has had few interceptions in the college game, but quarterbacks have avoiding him for some time now.
By now you may be wondering why I would select a tight end in the third round given that the Lions already have Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler. However, the intention of this selection is to develop the ex-basketballer into a deep threat wide receiver which he did play at college.
Cameron weighs about 255 lbs currently, and would have to shelve about 20 of those to play outside the hash marks. He had a great positional workout catching the ball at his pro day, and combines that with his outstanding physical gifts.
At the combine he ran a 4.55 40 yard dash at 255 lbs, had a 37.5" vertical leap, and ran the 3 cone drill and 20 yard shuttle in 6.82 (first among tight ends) seconds and 4.03 (third among all receivers) seconds accordingly. This agility, leaping ability and speed when combined with a 6'5" 230 lbs frame would make Cameron a very dangerous complement to Calvin Johnson.
As an added bonus, while Cameron may be a weak blocker for a tight end, as a wide receiver he would rival Julio Jones as the best blocker in the draft.
The Lions will once again trade back, this time out of their final pick in the second round. There are not players who would benefit the Lions still on the board with a late second round value. However, the Miami Dolphins will be looking to trade back into the second round to make up for the pick they sent Denver's way to get Brandon Marshall.
The Dolphins will be looking to draft a running back, ideally Ryan Williams. In return for the 29th pick in the second round, Miami would send the Lions the 15th pick of the third and fourth round.
With their newly acquired pick, the Lions would go about adding a new linebacker to their depleted corps. Wright is in the same boat as Brandon Spikes was in last year. He was not very fast at his pro day, and this will shunt this talented player into the third round.
Wright is a best fit as a strong side linebacker. At 6'4" and 250 lbs he has the size to play as a pro. While not fast, he is quick off the line and has excellent natural strength. He is a safe and powerful tackler (very important for the Lions) and can use his length and strength to get around blocks.
In coverage, he is very fluid for a 250 lbs man. He has good awareness and technique in zone coverage and is fluid and athletic enough to play man coverage.
While his instincts are not top-notch, they improved dramatically in his final college season. The real reason other than speed for his drop is his weakness when blitzing. He gets tall and lacks great technique. However, the Lions rarely blitz, so Wright will be able to play to his strengths.
After drafting a day one starter at corner back in the second round, Detroit will then get a developmental corner cut from the same mould as Smith is round four.
Marsh has only played corner back for two seasons after converting from running back. While he is by no means polished at this point of his career, he has amazing upside which will intrigue the Lions who need to get two secondary starters in this draft.
Marsh is another big press corner who can run with receivers down the field. He uses his hands well on the line, has mid 4.4 speed and fluid hips which will allow him to develop into a good number two cornerback.
He is not a solid tackler yet, but has the size and power to develop in that area.
The real reason for his value was his inspired performance against Austin Pettis and more importantly, Titus Young when his played Boise State. He kept them quiet, and that speaks louder than any stats will ever do.
The Lions already have a great defensive line, but if a player of the calibre of Greg Romeus falls to the fourth round then they will have no choice but to take him. Romeus had a first round grade coming out of college, but that grade has plummeted towards the fourth or fifth round after a torn ACL and back problems throughout his senior season and pre-draft work outs.
Despite this, Romeus has all the skills to be a top right defensive end. He is 6'6" and has long arms which he uses to keep offensive tackles off his body. At 270 lbs he has the strength to beat linemen up bull rushing as well.
He is great getting off blocks, is very sudden and agile through contact and has a good first step. Against the run he is very sound. He can hold his own anchoring, but is better trying to slip blocks and making plays in the backfield.
Other than Greg's injury concerns, his biggest weakness is a suspect motor. There is no way that this would continue after a training camp with Kyle Vanden Bosch.
If Romeus stays healthy, he will be a top starting defensive end to pair with Cliff Avril.
Because of the fickleness of late round draft picks, I will offer two options for sixth and seventh round picks.
In the sixth round, the Lions will look to improve their offensive line by taking a developmental prospect to grow into their position.
The first option is Willie Smith. He will drop down this low in the draft because he is undersized and just 290 lbs, comes from a small school and is very raw in his footwork.
However, the list of potential pros is much, much longer. He is 6'6", and will be able to add bulk to his frame. He plays with great leverage in the run game, and is extremely athletic in pass coverage.
He is the best late round offensive lineman in the draft, and has the potential to develop into a starting calibre tackle or guard.
Ryan Bartholomew is an intriguing center prospect who is very athletic and strong. He was one of the fastest and strongest offensive linemen at the combine, and while he will never be a 320 lbs monster, has the ability to bulk up to about 305 lbs. He would be able to sit for a year behind Dominic Raiola, then start in his second or third season.
With the Lions final pick of the NFL draft they will look to get a powerful short yardage running back to complement Jahvid Best and Maurice Morris.
The ideal pick would be Evan Royster. A standout back for Penn State, Royster is a hard running 6'1", 230 lbs charger who has a great combination of balance and power. He is very patient reading his blocks, and runs well behind his pads with great leg drive.
Royster will drop because of his lack of athletic ability and agility to be an every down back. However, he is adept at blocking and in the receiving game, and would be a solid addition to the team.
Fanin is a completely different prospect. While Royster will give team a solid, hard runner who has already peaked, Fanin has the physical skills to be a featured back. He ran a 4.38 40 at his college day at 230 lbs, can make defenders miss and has explosive acceleration. He is also a good receiver.
However, Fanin has yet to grasp the complexities of running the football. He rarely spots cut back lanes, bounces runs outside far too much and takes far too long reading his blocks, which leads to many negative plays.
If Fanin "gets it" then he would be as much as a steal as LeGarrette Blount was last year. However, if he does not then he would be nothing more than a short yardage battering ram for the Lions.