2011 NFL Draft: Detroit Lions' Top 25 Potential Picks

Andrew Kulha@@AKonSportsSenior Analyst IIIApril 4, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Detroit Lions' Top 25 Potential Picks

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    AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Da'Quan Bowers #93 of the Clemson Tigers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The time leading up the NFL draft is always filled with much speculation, hope and of course there is always a little bit of controversy

    Debates over which team takes who and whose stock is rising or falling rage on, and to be honest it is quite a beautiful thing!

    For fans of the Detroit Lions the draft marks a special time of the year where hope and optimism for the upcoming season are in full swing, and this year there seems to be much more reason than usual to be drinking that Honolulu blue kool-aid.

    You’ve seen mocks predicting who the Lions will take and with what pick, but here is a realistic look at the top 25 players the Detroit Lions should pick if they are available:

     

25. Evan Royster: Penn State

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    TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1:  Running back Evan Royster #22 of the Penn State Nittany Lions rushes upfield against the Florida Gators January 1, 2011 in the 25th Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Royster is a very intriguing pick if you are considering him somewhere in the sixth or seventh rounds.

    He is a very hard runner and will fight for every inch that he can get. He is also efficient working in the passing game.

    He is definitely a downhill runner that will just tuck the ball and go, but he still has decent vision.

    The Lions could see him as a very interesting pick to try to pair up with Jahvid Best.

     

24. Titus Young: Boise State

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    LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 22:  Titus Young #1 of the Boise State Broncos catches a pass just out of bounds in the end zone in front of Brandon Burton #27 of the Utah Utes during the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium December 22, 2010 in Las Vegas, N
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Young is a guy that the Lions could consider somewhere in the third or fourth round if they feel that they made some good fundamental picks at the start of the draft.

    He would essentially be a luxury pick. They don’t necessarily need him, but he can do a lot for the Lions.

    He has very quick feet and works well with finding open field in zone coverage situations. He doesn’t drop the ball much and has the speed to get behind your average NFL corner.

23. Darvin Adams: Auburn

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Darvin Adams #89 of the Auburn Tigers is unable to make a catch in the first half against Cliff Harris #13 of the Oregon Ducks during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Right off the bat I wouldn’t hesitate in telling you that I believe that Adams is just a natural playmaker.

    He came up big for Auburn on more than once occasion during their national title run, and I think that he could be somebody that would surprise many people as a late round pick.

    He is a very crafty route runner that will get open when your quarterback needs help.

    The Lions would find great value in somebody that will come back to the ball for Stafford.

22. Lawrence Wilson: Connecticut

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Ryan Broyles #85 of the Oklahoma Sooners fumbles the ball as it is stripped by Lawrence Wilson #8 of the Connecticut Huskies alongside Jerome Junior #15 in the second half during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of P
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Wilson is a guy that the Lions would look to draft real late with the hopes of turning him into a project. He has the raw abilities to perhaps be a starter in the NFL, but the questions is whether or not the Lions feel that they are in the position to start taking on project players.

    His greatest strength is tackling and he is very aggressive to the point of attack.

    If anything you are getting a hustle player for your special teams.

21. Terrance Toliver: LSU

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 22:  Terrance Toliver #80 of the Louisiana State University Tigers celebrates after a touchdown against the Ole Miss Rebels on November 22, 2008 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Toliver is a guy that you are going to be looking at in the later rounds of the draft, but he could start looking real good especially now that the Lions have gotten one of their picks back.

    He is a big and physical wide receiver that shows potential to blossom into something far greater than his draft value.

20. John Clay: Wisconsin

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    PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Running back John Clay #32 of the Wisconsin Badgers rushes with the ball against the TCU Horned Frogs during the 97th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Clay is a guy that the Lions will want to look for in the fourth or fifth round if they feel the need to establish a strong running threat to go behind Jahvid Best on the depth chart.

    He is your typical north-south head to the ground runner, and would factor in very nicely in goal line situations.

    The truth of the matter is that Best is going to eventually need a powerful runner that will take the pressure off of him, and if the Lions feel they have addressed some fundamental needs in the early rounds I can see them taking a look at John Clay.

19. Greg Jones: Michigan State

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    EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 23: Dan Persa #7 of the Northwestern Wildcats runs against the Michigan State Spartans pursued by Greg Jones #53 at Ryan Field on October 23, 2010 in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 35-27.  (Photo by Jonatha
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Jones has taken knocks about his size, but people are forgetting the impact that he had with the Michigan State Spartans.

    In Jones you will be getting a proven leader and team player, and also somebody who is going to make impact plays for your defense.

    He is quick to the line of scrimmage and can often find himself in the backfield in time to disrupt things, but the question is going to be is he big enough to play the middle in the NFL.

    Either way if the Lions are looking at him somewhere in the fifth or even sixths rounds then I can see it being a strong possibility that they go for the home town pick.

18. Bruce Carter: UNC

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    CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 13:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Virginia Tech Hokies is tackled by Bruce Carter #54 and teammate Jared McAdoo #97 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Kenan Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Carter is an athletic linebacker that the Lions would be able to pick up somewhere in the middle rounds.

    He has good speed and sideline to sideline range. He is a solid tackler that has displayed some ability to make the highlight big time hits.

    The Lions defense is coming into its own, and they are starting to acquire an in your face mantra.

    Carter would be a great middle round selection that would bring some athleticism and punch to the line backing crew.

17. Greg Little: UNC

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 26:  Aaron Berry #17 of the Pittsburgh Panthers tackles Greg Little #8 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game on December 26, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Little is a wildcard that the Lions could be potentially looking at in the third or fourth rounds.

    He missed all of last year due to a NCAA violation suspension, but before that he showed great play-making ability on the field.

    He has all the makings of a first round draft pick in any other situation.

    The Lions would really fill some holes in the depth chart behind Calvin Johnson, and in the end of the day it would make life easier for their star.

16. Aldon Smith: Missouri

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    COLUMBIA, MO - OCTOBER 23: Aldon Smith #85 of the Missouri Tigers in action against the Oklahoma Sooners at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Columbia, Missouri.  The Tigers beat the Sooners 36-27.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Image
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Here is a guy that could be available in the second or even third round.

    He is one of the better defensive ends in the draft and is a very tall and impressive figure coming off of the edge for you.

    He has long arms and a good first step which puts him at an advantage over slower tacklers.

    He could be a playmaker on a game to game basis for the Lions in time.

     

15. Jonathan Baldwin: Pittsburgh

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 26:  Jonathan Baldwin #82 of the Pittsburgh Panthers watches as teammate Dion Lewis #28 fumbles the ball at the goal line against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game on December 26, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Baldwin is a guy who was right up there with the top wide receivers just a month or so ago, but his stock has fallen dramatically because of some character issues.

    That being said, he has some intangibles that you cannot teach in a wide receiver, especially in the middle rounds where I think the Lions could be looking at him.

    He is tall and lanky and possesses above average speed. He also has a good pair of mitts that can go up and get a jump ball or extend for the highlight catches.

    He would be a risk, but it’s a high reward situation.

14. Jarvis Jenkins: Clemson

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    AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Jarvis Jenkins #99 of the Clemson Tigers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    This big guy would be a great addition to the middle of the defensive line and he could be available as late as the fourth round.

    He is going to take up space in the interior, but he also has a good bull rush and a few moves that can cause some trouble for the offense.

    He is also a very intelligent player that can read play action and screens with above average accuracy.

    If the Lions can snag this guy in the middle rounds they will not be disappointed.

13. Brandon Harris: Miami

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    MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 9: Jermaine Thomas #38 of the Florida State Seminoles eludes the tackle of Brandon Harris #1 of the Miami Hurricanes to score a touchdown on October 9, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Brandon Harris has been getting a lot of mixed reviews in the past couple of weeks, but all indications are that he is probably be going to drafted in the second round.

    If the scenario arises where the Lions have addressed other needs in the first round and both Aaron Williams and Jimmy Smith have fallen off the board, they might want to take a look at Harris.

    He is an all around solid player that is going to bring good fundamentals, but nothing overwhelming.

    All in all he is worth the second round pick.

12. Anthony Castonzo: Boston College

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    CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Dave Shinskie #15 of the Boston College Eagles passes the ball in overtime as teammate Anthony Castonzo #74 blocks against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on September 26, 2009 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachus
    Elsa/Getty Images

    In a dream scenario the Lions would be able to draft a big name defensive star at No. 13, and Castonzo would slip the second round.

    That is the ultimate dream scenario though. Castonzo would start looking more realistic if the Lions were to trade out of their pick to grab one or two at the end of the round.

    He looks to be a late first round talent, but either way he is going to be a solid pickup.

    He is worth the look.

11. Casey Matthews: Oregon

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    EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Connor Kavanaugh #10 of the Portland State sacked by linebacker Casey Matthews #55 of the Oregon Ducks in the second quarter of the game at Autzen Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Steve Dyk
    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    It’s not a lock, but you pretty much know what you are going to get from Casey Matthews.He is going to hustle on every play, never give up pursuing the ball and is going to make a handful of impact plays throughout the course of a season.

    He has the ability to mature into an every down linebacker in the NFL, and there is no question about his pedigree.

    The thing about Matthews is that his name alone could get him picked higher than what he might deserve, but at the same time he might actually be deserving of a high pick.

10. Cameron Jordan: California

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    TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Nick Foles #8 of the Arizona Wildcats is pressured as he scrambles by Cameron Jordan #97 of the California Bears during the first quarter of the college football game at Arizona Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Tucs
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Jordan is a big power threat coming off of the end, but he is surprisingly quick for his size.

    He utilizes a great club move and some crafty hands to work his way to the quarterback. He plays with a low pad level which usually helps him to establish leverage, so you definitely want to keep in with his hands on the ground.

    The reports say that he would be best suited for a 4-3 defense but in the Lions case he would work well at the power end position.

    He would be a great compliment to Suh, and could benefit from a year or two of tutelage from the veterans on the line.

9. Julio Jones: Alabama

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    ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 01: Julio Jones #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide stiffarms Chris Rucker #29 of  the Michigan State Spartans during the Capitol One Bowl at the Florida Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Im
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Jones has been battling A.J Green since the Senior Bowl for position of best wide receiver in the draft.

    He really impressed scouts in the combine, but then he suffered an injury that is going to keep him hurt through the draft.

    There is no reason to see why he wouldn’t be healed before the season begins though, and if the Lions are feeling really risky they might want to take a chance on Jones at 13.

    With Jones on the roster you would basically have two No. 2 receivers on the roster, and depending on how things pan out with him you could be looking at a 1A and 1B situation with Jones and Johnson.

8. Aaron Williams: Texas

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    DALLAS - OCTOBER 02:  Cornerback Aaron Williams #4 of the Texas Longhorns drops a pass intended for Ryan Broyles #85 of the Oklahoma Sooners in the second quarter at the Cotton Bowl on October 2, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Ima
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Williams is a target that the Lions will most definitely be looking at in the second round if they decide to address needs other than cornerback in the first round.

    In my opinion Williams is a first round draft pick with the stock of a second rounder.

    He has average coverage abilities, but really excels at the line of scrimmage and against the run.

    He would be a bargain in the second round, especially if the Lions need to address their needs at corner.

7. Nate Solder: Colorado

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    BOULDER, CO - OCTOBER 04:  Brian Orakpo #98 of the Texas Longhorns rushes against Nate Solder #78 the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on October 4, 2008 in Boulder, Colorado. Texas defeated Colorado 38-14.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    For a long time Solder was considered to be the best lineman in the draft but he has seemed to take a bit of a stock hit in the past month or so.

    That being said he is still an extremely great player and if the Lions have him available as the best lineman on the board than I would recommend that they take him.

    All in all is very quick for a lineman and has great fundamental. He slides side to side well in passing situations, and gets a great first step in the running game.

    If Tyron Smith isn’t available at No. 13 and the Lions want to go O-line, Solder is going to be the guy.

6. Robert Quinn: UNC

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    CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 19:  Robert Quinn #42 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates after a sack with teammate Marvin Austin #9 against the East Carolina Pirates at Kenan Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by St
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Quinn is 6’4’’ 265 pounds and is very fast for a man his size. He has good moves coming off the end and possesses very good hands to work his way inside.

    The chances of him dropping to 13 are slim, but if the Lions have the ability to take a look at him then they will have no choice but to consider what he can do.

    Keep your eye on him Lions fans.

5. Akeem Ayers: UCLA

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    PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 06:  Akeem Ayers #10 of the UCLA Bruins makes a catch in front of Dwight Roberson #59 and Cameron Collins #5 of the Oregon State Beavers at the Rose Bowl on November 6, 2010 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Image
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Ayeers’ stock has been dropping since the end of the collegiate season, so the Lions could be taking a potential look at him in the second round, if not the third.

    He would be a good pickup to the fill the need of depth and athleticism at the linebacker position, and he would bring another spark of youth to an increasingly speedy and intimidating defense.

    Ayeers plays good against the run and has no problem taking blockers on head on in order to create a mess at the line of scrimmage.

    He has exceptional speed for an inside linebacker which helps him out in coverage, but his greatest strength is in the pass rush.

    He has long arms and good hands that when combined with his speed give him an exceptional chance at taking down the quarterback.

4. Da'quan Bowers: Clemson

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    AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Da'Quan Bowers #93 of the Clemson Tigers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    There have been whispers about Bowers draft stock taking a very big over concerns about his surgically repaired right knee.

    He reportedly looked slow during workouts, so watching the more needy teams pass on him is not out of the question.

    I believe that if Bowers is available at No.13 the Lions have an obligation to draft him.

    This is a guy who is ranked number one at his position, so if you can snag him anywhere outside of the top ten than you must jump on it.

3. Jimmy Smith: Colorado

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    BOULDER, CO - SEPTEMBER 06:  Wide receiver Dion Morton #31 of the Colorado State Ramsmakes a reception as cornerback Jimmy Smith #3 of the Colorado Buffaloes defends at Folsom Field on September 6, 2009 in Boulder, Colorado. The Rams defeated the Buffaloe
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Many experts have considered Jimmy Smith to be the second best corner in the draft, but he has had a handful of character problems that could hinder his draft stock with many teams.

    The question for the Lions would become whether or not they feel that they are in the position to be taking risks on a player. There is no doubt that there is need at corner though.

    Smith has the skills to be a first round pick, but does he have the total package?

    It’s a very intriguing position for the Lions to be in.

2. Tyron Smith: USC

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 26:   Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans throws a pass as Tyron Smith #70 blocks Jesse Feagin #98 of  the Washington State Cougars during the second quarter of the college football game at the Los Angeles Memorial C
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Tyron Smith is the unanimous choice for best lineman in the draft.

    The book on Smith is that he is primed to be a left tackle in the NFL, and even though he hasn’t played the position he is the ideal candidate.

    He is trim, but in no way is he small. He is also incredibly fast for a lineman and has very good footwork that will allow him to effectively cover the blind side.

    If the Lions are serious about having Matthew Stafford be their guy under center than they are going to take a long hard look at Tyron Smith if he is available.

    They would be locking down a guy that can protect Stafford for years to come, and perhaps they might even be able to keep him up long enough to get some value out of him.

1. Prince Amakamura: Nebraska

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    LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 26: Prince Amukamara #21 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers misses a chance at an interception from Scotty McKnight #21 of the Colorado Buffaloes during the second half of their game at Memorial Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Lincoln, Neb
    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Obviously this would be a dream scenario for the Lions so if it came up I can all but guarantee you they will pull the trigger.

    If for some reason Amukamara were to slip to No. 13 the Lions would be getting the value of a top ten pick, which would be enough in most cases, but in reality they are also locking up a franchise cornerstone.

    Amukamara plays lock-down coverage and has above average speed and ball skills that will enable him to make some plays for the defense. He is also a strong weapon to have against the run game, which at the corner position is always a plus.

    Follow Andrew on Twitter: @AKonSports