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SI mock draft: ’Bama DT to Lions; 2 MSU first-rounders

The Detroit News

So, now that the Lions are locked in (barring a trade) with the No. 16 pick in the NFL draft, who will they pick?

Expect Detroit to go with defense, Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated writes.

Burke has the Lions taking Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson with their first-round pick in Sports Illustrated's mock draft Wednesday, bolstering a line that already includes Pro Bowl defensive end Ziggy Ansah.

“Robinson looks like a 10-year NFL vet,” Burke wrote. “The 320-pounder plays above his experience at times, too, thriving with purposeful power. What I mean by that is Robinson can use his frame and hands to get into gaps, but he isn’t a robot about it. He’ll sniff out where the O-line is moving and make sure to stay active.”

Robinson has 3 1/2 sacks and 7 1/2 tackles for loss this season as the Crimson Tide prepares for the national chamionship game Monday against Clemson, and was part of a dominating unit that stymied Michigan State, 38-0, in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

Then again, maybe the Lions will go wide receiver with their top pick?

Burke has a pair of Spartans also going in the first round: Junior left tackle Jack Conklin, who on Wednesday declared for the NFL draft, is going to the Colts at No. 18, and defensive end Shilique Calhoun to the Carolina Panthers at No. 31.

“Conklin can play left tackle, right tackle or possibly even guard,” Burke wrote, “but it’s hard to say that LT is his sure home — hence his spot a notch below (Ohio State’s Taylor) Decker. The Colts should be happy to take him, though. When healthy, Conklin is an intelligent, hard-nosed force. He has yet to declare for the draft.”

Of Calhoun’s projected selection by the Panthers, Burke writes, “(I) continue to believe Calhoun belongs in Round 1, even though his size (6’5”, 250) runs him a little light for a traditional 4-3 NFL end. Calhoun finished his final Michigan State season with 101/2 sacks, a career high. The Spartans rarely took him off the field, which is a testament to his skill set.”

Burke does not have Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook getting picked in the first round, though he says it’s a possibility if a quarterback-needy team makes a trade to move back into the round.