2011 NFL Mock Draft: Final Detroit Lions Predictions Through 7 Rounds
There is time for just one more.
One more mock draft, one more round of prospect evaluation, one more chance for everyone to complain about my refusal to include Tyron Smith in my mock draft.
I suppose that's a small spoiler, regarding the first pick.
My self-imposed mock draft rules, in case you forgot them.
1. No repeating picks. If you've heard my analysis on a player once, you don't need it again. If that means I have to get creative with my selections, so be it.
1a. This being my final mock draft of the season, I will include a list of all previous selections in a given round for your heckling pleasure.
2. No trades. I actually think the Lions will trade down somewhere, but it's just silly to assume to know when, where and with who.
3. If there is any reasonable chance a player is a available at a particular Lions' pick, I will assume he is available. That's the only way I can reasonably simulate the Lions brain trust's "best player available" strategy. For them to draft the BPA means a talented player is going to have to fall from somewhere.
And so without any further ado, it is time to begin 2011 Detroit Lions Mock Draft: The Final Chapter.
Round 1, 13th Overall Pick: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
I have insisted for most of the offseason that the 13th overall pick is too high for Jimmy Smith and that he would be available for better value if picked closer to 20.
I still believe that, but I no longer believe he's a waste of the 13th pick. In fact, I'm starting to come around to the idea that his skill level is not as far from Prince Amukamara as originally thought.
Granted, Smith still comes with character concerns in light of his drug abuse issues, and I would feel much better about the Lions picking him closer to 20 and getting an extra selection out of a trade down.
But if the Lions braintrust says he's worth the pick, I'll believe them. They've talked to Smith and his coaches, and they have yet to whiff on a guy because of character, so I have to believe they know how to judge that sort of thing.
And that's a good thing, since I believe Smith and Amukamara would probably be nearly neck-and-neck in this draft, if not for those red flags on Smith.
Of course, I'm not saying Smith is a better pick than Amukamara pound-for-pound, but he could very well be a suitable substitute.
Round 2, 44th Overall Pick: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
Stefen Wisniewski, C/G, Penn State
Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
I have not been a big advocate of drafting a running back in the first two days of the draft this year, and in actuality, I'm still not.
I am, however, a big advocate of drafting the best player available, and since Leshoure could go in the bottom of round one, he fits that description and fills a need (albeit a relatively minor one).
Though I still believe the greatest hurdle for the Lions to develop a consistent running game is upgrading their interior line, it's hard to ignore Leshoure's talents or the Lions' need for a strong power complement for Jahvid Best.
Round 3, 75th Overall Pick: Mason Foster, OLB, Washington
Bruce Carter, OLB, UNC (twice, before implementing the "no repeating picks" rule)
Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
Marcus Cannon, OG/OT, TCU
I'm not sure why Mason Foster hasn't appeared in one of my mock drafts yet (probably because I kept mocking Bruce Carter), but there's no time like the present to correct it.
Foster is a model of productivity and could easily step in and be a major producer as the Lions' strong-side linebacker, replacing Julian Peterson.
Foster isn't the most physically dominating athlete, and that's why he slides to the third round here. And most likely, if Carter is available, he's the better value overall.
But Foster has slightly better game instincts than Carter, and more importantly, he has two healthy knees. He's worth the pick here if Carter is gone, and I wouldn't shun the Lions even for taking him over Carter (though they'd have to have a very good reason).
Round 4, 107th Overall Pick: John Moffitt, G/C, Wisconsin
Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State
Clint Boling, G, Georgia
K.J. Wright, OLB, Mississippi State
Brandon Burton, CB, Utah
This being the final mock draft of the season, I couldn't leave John Moffitt off the board just out of circumstance.
Because of the nature of the position, quality guards can often be found in the middle rounds, and I am a big advocate of taking one there. If Moffitt falls to the Lions in the fourth, he would be of great value and would provide a needed upgrade to the middle of the offensive line.
Perhaps more importantly, the Moffitt pick combined with Leshoure in the second round and a healthy Jahvid Best could pave the way to a top-10 rushing attack in 2011.
Round 5, 154th Overall Pick: Greg Salas, WR, Hawaii
DeMarcus Love, OG/OT, Arkansas
Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon
Alex Green, RB, Hawai'i
Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State
There's no way Greg Salas averages 1,750 receiving yards a season in the NFL like he did his last two years at Hawaii. Mainly because he's not going to play for a pass-happy spread offense in the NFL, and he won't be playing in the WAC conference.
Although the NFC West might be the WAC of the NFL...
Anyway, Salas is an interesting prospect because of his intelligence. Physically, Salas in unimpressive. He's not that fast, not that agile and struggles to create separation with those attributes.
However, Salas is an abnormally good route-runner with sure hands and a good understanding for the game. He uses his understanding of the defense and his route to compensate for his lack of speed and to get separation.
Salas catches everything that's thrown at him and isn't afraid to go over the middle of the field to get it. He could be a sleeper possession guy in the fifth round.
Round 7, 205th Overall Pick: Byron Stingily, OT, Louisville
Stephen Burton, WR, West Texas A&M
Greg Lloyd, ILB, Connecticut
There are three reasons I like Byron Stingily to Detroit in the seventh round. Two of them actually have to do with football, the other is that his name is Byron Stingily and that's awesome.
But seriously, Stingily had a massive Pro Day, which effectively put his stock on the map. He could be looking at a sixth-round grade or better. So the Lions getting him in the top of the seventh might be a bargain. That's one reason.
The other is that the Lions have had good success drafting big-bodied linemen in the late rounds as projects. With Jason Fox looking at a major role in 2011, I'm curious about whether the 313-pound Stingily could develop into a quality tackle.
At the very least, he could develop into quality depth.