Who Are the Experts Predicting to Detroit Lions in 1st Round of the NFL Draft?

Brandon Alisoglu@@BrandonAlisogluCorrespondent IApril 8, 2015

Who Are the Experts Predicting to Detroit Lions in 1st Round of the NFL Draft?

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Has the silly season left you slack-jawed and slaphappy? Has the inexhaustible amount of mockery and prognostication forced you to give up wading through every Detroit Lions mock draft due to carpal tunnel syndrome?

    I get it. The NFL draft has grown to such an extent that only kitten photos and memes featuring Kermit the Frog get more hits these days. 

    That's why the assignment editors have sent me meandering through the web tasked with collecting all of the relevant mock drafts I could find and the reasoning for the Lions' pick in each. So save time and your wrists by clicking through to the next slide.

RB Todd Gurley, Georgia

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Running back has been a hot topic of debate since the season's end found Detroit 28th on the team-rushing list. That pathetic mark resulted in Reggie Bush getting cut, which in turn opened up a running back-in-the-first-round can of worms.

    Doug Farrar of SI.com apparently isn't bug-shy. He believes Detroit should pull the trigger on a banged-up banger from the SEC:

    Gurley might be a top-15 pick were it not for the knee injury that ended his season last November. There are injury concerns beyond that torn ACL—he suffered an ankle injury in 2013—but when healthy, Gurley is a slightly faster version of Marshawn Lynch, with the kind of size, speed and powerful agility that turns college backs into NFL rushing champs. He would add so much to a Detroit offense that has been unbalanced to the passing side for years.

    Todd Gurley has everything you could want in a power back. He uses his 222 pounds to abuse would-be tacklers and has enough speed to run away from defenders after he bowls them over.

    However, the injuries that Farrar touched on can't be glossed over. He had to use the "but when healthy" argument, which should lend itself to a few squeamish moments inside Detroit's war room, considering the fates of Ryan Broyles and Jahvid Best.

    Plus, there's little value in grabbing a running back so early this year. The second round is overflowing with guys like Tevin Coleman and Jay Ajayi who possess slightly less talent but don't carry the opportunity cost of shoring up the offensive or defensive lines. 

OT Andrus Peat, Stanford

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    One such offensive lineman is Andrus Peat. The Stanford product was Dane Brugler's pick over at CBS Sports, and he explains why here:

    The Lions have a few stopgap options at right tackle, but Peat is arguably the top offensive tackle in this draft class. Stability (Peat) is better than serviceable (current right tackle situation).

    A lot of people don't see Peat lasting this long. Just ask Sigmund Bloom of FootballGuys.com and Lance Zierlein of NFL.com:

    Re: Stanford OT Andrus Peat - NYG/STL/MIN fans be on alert... RT @LanceZierlein I think he goes inside top 11

    — Sigmund Bloom (@SigmundBloom) April 7, 2015

    However, this pick smacks a lot of Riley Reiff—a solid player who would excel at right tackle but isn't that well-suited to the left side. He can drive a player off his spot in the run game and is an apt pass protector, but he's not elite enough to warrant a move to the left side.

    If the Lions are going to take a tackle this early, the value would be finding someone who can move Reiff to the right side or guard. Peat isn't that guy.

OT D.J. Humphries, Florida

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The more enticing tackle option in terms of talent is D.J. Humphries. He's always had the talent, as proven by his 5-star recruiting rank, per 247Sports, and All-Freshman SEC nod, but he hasn't been as consistent since.

    That didn't stop Daniel Jeremiah, Charles Davis and Bucky Brooks, all of NFL.com, from projecting him to Detroit. Brooks lays out his reasoning here:

    The Lions need to reshuffle their offensive line to ensure Matt Stafford is protected in the pocket. Humphries exhibits intriguing qualities as a potential left tackle, allowing the Lions to slide Riley Reiff over to right tackle.

    That sounds quite a bit better than the Peat pick, doesn't it? It's the only type of rationale that makes sense for taking a tackle here.

    The chief concern with Humphries, however, is the reason for his aforementioned lack of production. He missed seven games over the last two seasons, and we've already discussed why the Lions weigh injuries heavily when evaluating prospects.

    But there isn't another tackle in this draft who gives you the upside of Humphries. Despite the injuries, he's a tough player who loves trench warfare and has the athleticism to back it up, making him a strong fit against the pass and in Detroit's zone-blocking run scheme.

DT Eddie Goldman, Florida State

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Defensive tackle is the other most prominent position mocked to Detroit.

    The trade for Haloti Ngata and signing of Tyrunn Walker abated any immediate need. But both of those players are currently set to be free agents in 2016, and there isn't any indication the Lions have interest in retaining C.J. Mosley.

    That's probably why Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN and Don Banks of SI.com see Eddie Goldman as Detroit's first-round target, the latter of which gave his explanation here:

    Goldman is a run-stuffer who can throw his 300-pound-plus frame into the void that exists up front for the Lions, contributing from day one. Finding an offensive right tackle is also on the to-do list, which could mean Stanford’s Andrus Peat or Pitt’s T.J. Clemmings are on Detroit’s first-round radar.

    Goldman has his champions, but he doesn't appear to be a great fit for Detroit's defensive style. He's strictly a hole-clogger who will keep the linebackers clean. He only made five plays behind the line of scrimmage (2 sacks, 3 TFL) in 2013 and improved to just four sacks and eight tackles for a loss last season.

    Granted, he could be a poor man's Ngata, but run-stuffers are easier to find than gap attackers. The Lions would be better off finding a player who can turn it loose and penetrate rather than a one-trick pony, and Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo agrees:

    If I'm the Lions, I'm looking at Grady Jarrett before I look at Eddie Goldman in the first round.

    — Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) April 1, 2015

DT Malcom Brown, Texas

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    While Grady Jarrett would be a nice pick (and he'll be discussed in different pieces yet to be published), the better first-round target hails from another Southern school.

    Surprisingly, the player most mocked to Detroit to start the draft cycle has seemingly fallen off most people's radars. A lot of that is due to some seeing Malcom Brown off the board by this point, but ESPN's Todd McShay doesn't view things the same way:

    This is another great value pick (No. 13 on our board). The Lions added Haloti Ngata to help ease the sting of losing Ndamukong Suh in free agency to the Lions, but not only is Ngata getting up in age and not the same level of dominant force that Suh was, but Detroit also saw Nick Fairley leave in free agency, and C.J. Mosley doesn't appear as though he'll be back. Brown is a very good run defender and an improving pass-rusher, and he has the versatility to play multiple spots along the defensive front.

    While McShay does acknowledge that Brown is more deserving of a higher pick, he also understands that this draft has plenty of interchangeable players value-wise, or at least I assume he does. There isn't a ton of difference between the No. 20 pick and No. 50 pick this year.

    Regardless, Brown would be a great fit for Detroit. He can use his 319 pounds to occupy blockers, but the tape shows he has a better burst off the line than Eddie Goldman. That's why he finished his last collegiate season with 13 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks.

    While those numbers aren't insane compared to the Seminole's, it should be noted that new head coach Charlie Strong was able to turn him loose. Here's betting defensive coordinator Teryl Austin would find creative ways to exploit his natural penetrating ability as well.

    All combine statistics are courtesy of NFL.com

    Brandon Alisoglu is a Detroit Lions Featured Columnist who has written about the Lions on multiple sites. He also co-hosts a Lions-centric podcast, Lions Central Radio. Yell at him on Twitter about how wrong he is @BrandonAlisoglu.


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