It's third and a pick six situation.
This may be my first mock draft, but it's Martin Mayhew's (Lions GM) third real draft and he's got six players to pick.
I admit that I have avoided putting any mock drafts together for the Detroit Lions. There have been too many questions and too many partial answers to know exactly where to go with picking the "right" guys for Detroit.
You can study Mayhew's drafting patterns all you want, and all you'd see is that he picks players not just based on highest need, but also on who may put pressure on the existing players to step it up to next level or be replaced. Generally speaking, the last list of "pressure" guys are picked up through free agency. I don't personally see his draft strategy changing, even if we don't have a free agency available this year.
The Lions front office will choose in the top rounds the players in the draft who can be immediate impact players, as expected, and in later rounds, development players who they hope can become the future of the team.
The truth is that the Lions have a tough schedule and need to get off to a fast start if they are looking at the playoffs this year. This may be in the back of their minds, but I don't see the team of Mayhew and Schwartz (head coach) changing their strategy at the draft at all.
It is interesting, though, to see the draft fast approaching without the experience of free agency. It may change the way some coaches and GMs head into this draft that can put another wrench into the usual list of unknowns.
Mayhew knows that he has to be ready for anything. Scenarios can change several times before you get the chance to call the next player to wear the Honolulu Blue and Silver. You have to have your list of players figured out based on any and all possible contingencies.
While I throw my hat into the ring, there is one thing I know for certain and that is this: I don't know anything for certain.
I have chosen to focus on immediate position needs, specifically OLB, CB and OG/C, and less immediate but still important needs at RB, WR and RT.
I hereby raise my glass and propose a toast. May the best players for our Detroit Lions win the battle of contingencies!
I know, you just want to jump to No. 1, don't you? Me too, but there is a place for seventh-round players and they deserve to get more than glanced over. These are the guys who could be great value players or end up cut from even the practice squad. You always hope that you get a guy who just fell through the cracks and ends up being a great talent.
The Lions finally received their seventh-round draft pick back which places them at No. 205 overall. Since I believe that Gosder Cherilus will be able to start during the regular season, I don't see RT being as immediate a need as other positions. Therefore, I like Joseph Barksdale, the 6'5", 325 lb. RT out of LSU.
There is also the possibility that the Lions take a chance on Noel Devine, the 5'8", 179 lb. RB from West Virginia. He had some character issues in high school but was adopted by Deion Sanders, and it doesn't appear he has been in any trouble since.
Maybe one of these guys will prove to be a breakout player or a worthy backup.
With the fifth round pick and No. 154 overall, Detroit takes Terrence Toliver.
If Terrence Toliver, the 6'4", 212 lb WR is still on the board, I don't think the Lions would hesitate in adding him to the receiving corps. The Lions need a third receiver who is quick and can get to the deep ball on the opposite side of Calvin Johnson. Nate Burleson is a great slot receiver and should be moved back to that position once another tall receiver is covering the back.
Both the receiving and running back positions need one more playmaker on the field to take some of the pressure off RB Jahvid Best and the receiving duo of Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson.
My choice for the Lions would be to take a chance on Hunter. With another running option at this level, the Detroit Lions open up their running game and give Stafford more weapons on the field.
Many analysts have the Detroit Lions waiting until the third round to get their OLB, mainly because that is where Bruce Carter is projected to fall. He has been the most targeted player to fill the OLB spot as he is already a true 4-3 scheme player (so is Mason Foster, by the way).
My favorite pick for them if they go for a proven 4-3 guy in the third round is Mark Herzlich. He could fall to the fourth round and would be a great value there for the Lions.
The OLB class seems to be riddled with injuries as do many other positional players in this draft. Bruce Carter had ACL surgery in December and Mark Herzlich is a cancer survivor. It's an easy pick for me. I'll take the guy who has already beaten cancer.
Any of these picks would great additions to the Detroit Lions team.
Stefen Wisniewski #61
With the 44th overall pick, the Lions fiirst choice of a second-round pick would be OG/C Stefen Wisniewski, if he is still available. If he is off the board they could trade down to get a better value on OG/C John Moffitt.
Here's the deal. The Lions currently have Stephen Peterman on the roster at OG, and he could use some help at that position. Whoever competes for OG could easily give Peterman a run for his money.
The current player at the center position is Dominic Raoila. He has been a great leader on the offensive line and the Lions staff may not be willing to push him yet, but Raoila gets run over too easily by bigger defensive lines.
It's just too hard to argue that whenever either Peterman of Raoila are knocked down or ineffective, it puts Matthew Stafford at risk, which is not a risk the Lions can take this year.
This second round is almost as difficult to predict as the first round just based on not knowing how other teams will draft.
If the Lions have Wisniewski already locked up and they didn't get their first-round cornerback, there are two players in the second round they may target.
The top picks here would be Devon House or Aaron Williams. Personally, I prefer Williams. The only issue with Williams is that he is considered by some to be a better safety in the NFL. With his incredible vertical jump and ability to track both the WR and the ball, I think he could still be an effective cornerback and help fill that need in Detroit.
Mason Foster can play in a 4-3 scheme already, where Reed would have to be converted from 3-4.
As much as I believe the Lions front office is happy with the progress our cornerbacks made last season, I just can't see them passing up on one who could immediately improve the secondary.
CB Prince Amukamara, the second-highest rated corner in this year's draft, has been available for the Lions in many of the latest mock scenarios. Most, if not all, of Lions Nation would be ecstatic if Prince came to Detroit where he could be greeted by ex-Nebraska teammate Ndamukong Suh. However, Mayhew has to be prepared in case it doesn't play out that way.
If the Detroit Lions are serious about upgrading the secondary in the first round, I see them trading down if Prince is gone and getting Jimmy Smith.
Detroit knows that Smith has had off-the-field issues, and it is my belief that the reason they brought him in to interview with them was to primarily check for any character concerns. If he passed these tests, the Lions will pick him up.
If Smith didn't check out, they will look to fill their first-round pick with a different Smith. Hang on, because it could get briefly confusing.
If Mayhew decides to concentrate on the OLB/DE position, Aldon Smith would fit an immediate need but has to bulk up to be a 4-3 OLB. I wouldn't be surprised if any 4-3 team that interviewed Smith would have prepared him for this if he gets picked by them and the lockout is still in place.
The Lions would use him as an OLB. He would be attractive to them because he is a "hybrid player" who can also play at DE. The Lions place high value on versatility.
Why no OT here? The Lions staff seem happy with the guys they have. If they do get someone, it will be to help Gosder Cherilus out if he is not ready for the early part of the season. I don't see them going for that person until the later rounds.
This is the beginning of the draft, which most of us will be glued to on Thursday.
Though this is a mock draft of who I would like to see the Lions get ultimately, I trust Mayhew and Schwartz to get it done and bring home the best players for Detroit.
This season is going to be incredible and, like other Lions fans, I can't wait for it to get started!