Holding the No. 20 pick in next week’s NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions could go a number of different directions in the first round. If you spend enough time searching the web, you’re likely to come across a mock draft for each unique possibility.
During a Friday conference call, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock poked holes in two of the more popular prospects who have been projected to the Lions – defensive end Marcus Davenport and running back Derrius Guice.
Davenport, the UTSA standout with a prototypical build and chart-busting athleticism, has drawn comparisons to Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah throughout the pre-draft process. Both players entered the league with tantalizing potential, countered by concerns about how prepared they were to make the transition to the pro game.
“I think the underlying understanding here has to be that he's very raw and is going to take a little bit of time,” Mayock said about Davenport. “Even in a simple system, where you line him up wide and teach him how to rush the quarterback, he's got a lot to learn.
“By the way, he's a very smart kid, I'm not taking any shots at him at all – I'm just saying he's as raw as can be.”
Mayock’s position rankings, which published Thursday morning on NFL.com, confirms how much he likes Davenport. He puts him behind only North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb, a sure-to-be top-10 selection.
But Ansah made a quick transition in part because he played in a simpler rush scheme to begin his career. Davenport would be asked to play in Detroit’s current scheme, being installed this offseason by new coach Matt Patricia, which requires defensive lineman to be versatile to play in its multi-look front.
“In a Matt Patricia system, which is very complicated, I think it's going to take him a long time,” Mayock said. “To answer your question in a vacuum, he's better off in a simple system where he can just line up and go as opposed to being asked to do multiple tasks.”
Among the early-round defensive linemen who are more prepared to step in and contribute immediately, Mayock highlighted Vita Vea, Da’Ron Payne and Justin Jones on the interior. As for edge rushers, the analyst mentioned mid-round options Rasheem Green, Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes.
“Those are several names of bigger-bodied type guys that I think would fit in Detroit,” Mayock said.
As for Guice, the most likely first-round option if the Lions opt to address their need at running back early in the draft, Mayock likes the LSU runner’s game, but notes concerns about his football character.
“He's a first-round talent,” Mayock said. “Reminds me a little bit, just style-wise, of a Frank Gore. Gets a lot of carries, tough, his issues more are just – I don't know what the right word is, maybe it's some immaturity off the field.
“What's his work ethic going to be like?” Mayock said. “Will he be a true pro? Will he show up to go to work every day? Some of those concerns could push him into the second round, but make no mistake about it, he's a talented kid.”
Mayock suggested the Lions might find better value on Day 2 by selecting a similar-style runner out of Georgia.
“I love Nick Chubb,” Mayock said. “I think you don't have any baggage like Guice has. He's completely over the knee injury from two years before. He's strong, he's tough. If you could get him in the second or third round, I think that would be a home run.”
With his positional rankings, Mayock ranked Chubb fourth, behind Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, Georgia teammate Sony Michel and Guice.