Detroit Lions Mock Draft: Final 7-Round Predictions
There is no need to click on another Detroit Lions seven-round mock draft. My picks, my friends, are all you require.
You see, I established myself as master mocker last year, nailing two out of the Lions' first three picks.
That's right. I saw Larry Warford there in the third round despite the public outrage that the dancing bear would ever slip so low.
But it's OK. I forgive you. In fact, I have even blessed you with another version of spoilers to the NFL's best offseason drama.
Round 1: Pitt DT Aaron Donald
Allow me a moment to explain that this pick won't be happening. The Lions will make a trade one way or the other on Thursday night and won't be sitting there to pick at No. 10.
The Lions are in win-now mode and plenty of teams love to trade back in the draft. But fans are worried that the cost will be too steep to move up for Sammy Watkins, Khalil Mack or Mike Evans. However, with plenty of teams sticking to the ubiquitous the-draft-is-too-deep-to-trade-up mantra, the asking price to leap up the board won't be as expensive as originally presumed.
And that's exactly why Martin Mayhew should be able to strike.
Yet, if he fails to move up, here's betting he'll try to leverage whichever tackle or quarterback may be sitting there into an extra pick. Any cornerback or safety he is looking at here will have a comparable talent available wherever he trades down to.
But for the sake of keeping things sane in this mock draft, I'm acting as if trades don't exist. And in that case, Aaron Donald should prepare to hear his name called.
Donald has enough burst off the line (7.11 three-cone drill) to offset his smaller stature that can get him in trouble against the run. And once he thrusts into the backfield, he can use his 4.68 40-yard dash speed to close on quarterbacks and running backs.
Mayhew uses the best-player-available approach, and Donald likely has the highest grade of those who will be left at No. 10. He can contribute right away and step into the role vacated by Nick Fairley when the Lions either trade him or let him walk via free agency.
Yes, that's happening. There's no legitimate reason to give Fairley a new contract if he blows up this year. It would only prove he puts in the effort when he has a contact on the line.
Round 2: Washington State S Deone Bucannon
The Lions are looking for playmakers, or "closers" as Vice President of Pro Personnel Sheldon White told MLive.com's Kyle Meinke. Few players available in the second round have that word written more times on them than Deone Bucannon.
Bucannon stands 6'1" and has 211 pounds hanging off of his lean frame. Yet, one look at the tape will show a player who plays a few inches taller than his impressive measurables.
He flies around the field bringing down ball-carriers (220 tackles in his last two seasons) and also makes plays in the air. In fact, his six interceptions last year tied for the seventh-most picks in the country.
There are a couple of other ways the Lions could turn here, including linebacker Kyle Van Noy or even one of the fine receivers sure to be available. However, Bucannon fits that bill as the best player available and plays a premium position. He's the pick.
Round 3: Alabama WR Kevin Norwood
The addition of Golden Tate gave the Lions a potential top-notch duo of wide receivers, but it didn't do anything for depth. Kris Durham and Kevin Ogletree are best kept somewhere near the fourth or fifth spot and, depending on Ryan Broyles, would take an enormous amount of unwarranted faith due to his constant injury issues.
So Detroit will certainly be looking for another pass-catcher in this year's draft. Considering the issue wasn't addressed via a trade in the first round as has been heavily speculated, Kevin Norwood gets the nod in the third.
Norwood is one of those relatively quiet prospects who would have flown completely under the radar 10 years ago. However, thanks to the amount of attention the draft receives and the extra weeks worth of content to fill in 2014, everyone is pretty familiar with the 6'2" wideout.
His best attributes are his hands and ability to play anywhere on the field.
Detroit needs someone with sure hands to move on from last year's nightmare of 58 dropped passes as well as someone to handle the slot duties between Calvin Johnson and Tate. Some have bemoaned his inability to get open, but thanks to the aforementioned power couple, he should find plenty of room to roam in Motown.
Round 4: USC C Marcus Martin, Montana OLB Jordan Tripp and VT DE James Gayle
Eventually, Dominic Raiola will presumably move on. Considering his gruff personality and nasty streak, it's hard to envision him not being a football player, but Father Time is undefeated for a reason.
Marcus Martin might not make it to the fourth round, but with Weston Richburg and Travis Swanson already off the board in this scenario, there's no way three centers go that high. Martin only played one year at center in college, so being able to sit for a year is a perfect scenario. The Lions simply can't afford to pass on a 6'3", 320-pound interior lineman here.
Also, thanks to the NFL's secret algorithm, Detroit has two compensatory picks at the back of the fourth. Both of those picks will be projects for the defense in the form of linebacker Jordan Tripp and defensive end James Gayle.
Tripp has been a hot sleeper name that Bleacher Report's resident draft guru, Matt Miller, has going in the third round. However, his athleticism (4.67 40 and 37.5" vertical) and ability to play all three downs isn't enough to overcome his inconsistent tackling, so he drops into the Lions' lap.
Lastly, Detroit doesn't know what it has in Jason Jones, so the team can use more depth at defensive end. Gayle used his 4.7 speed and lateral quickness to post 12.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks his sophomore year. Unfortunately, he didn't match those numbers again over the next two years. But that's why the Lions' front office retained defensive line coach Kris Kocurek when it sacked the last staff.
Round 6: Arizona CB Shaquille Richardson
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin loves big, physical corners. Actually, everyone does, so it wouldn't be surprising if Shaquille Richardson hears his name before the sixth round.
But if not, Detroit would be wise to snap up the 6'3" cornerback from Arizona.
Many others have mocked a cornerback to the Lions within the first two rounds. I have been a loud, active opponent to that view here at B/R and on Lions Central Radio.
However, with Chris Houston's toe injury lingering into May, things are starting to look dire. So I'm compromising enough to see Detroit adding some depth to battle with Darius Slay, Bill Bentley and the host of recent defensive back signees.
Any sooner than the sixth is too much of a reach unless the Lions believe Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard has top-five-cornerback-in-the-league potential. Detroit has invested high picks (Slay) and money (Houston) into the position and needs to see what the return will be instead of pulling the plug and throwing more high-value assets at the problem.
Richardson's huge frame and press ability will give Austin the type of cornerback he desires without spending too much. It's the best of both worlds.
Round 7: Rice K Chris Boswell
Last year, I mocked Mayhew's decision of Sam Martin in the fifth round. Now, I'm wising up and mocking another specialist to Detroit.
Chris Boswell knocked in 81 percent of his sophomore-year attempts and can expand the scoring zone with his huge leg. However, his accuracy has dropped each of the last two seasons to a concerning 66.7 percent in 2013.
But this is exactly what you do with a seventh-round pick—take a guy with huge upside despite his flaws.
That's it, folks. Keep your browser pointed to the Detroit Lions B/R page throughout the draft as I grade and analyze each pick in real time.
And, of course, you can give me the business when I fall flat on my face. I really set myself up with that first slide, didn't I?
All combine results courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.