Detroit Lions mock draft roundup: D-line picks dominate
Allen Park — Here's a final roundup of mock drafts from the web and some thoughts on each of the projections.
HAROLD LANDRY, DE, BOSTON COLLEGE (7)
Thoughts: Landry was the pick in my final projection, published Wednesday. He's not without his flaws, but a springy athlete on the edge is the prescription for what ails Detroit's pass rush. With the team's current depth, the Lions can ease Landry in as a rookie, developing his playing strength and arsenal of moves with an focus on fully replacing Ziggy Ansah in 2019.
DA’RON PAYNE, DT, Alabama (7)
Thoughts: Of all the defensive linemen who could be available to the Lions at No. 20, Payne is arguably the most ready to contribute immediately. A dominant college run stopper with untapped potential as a pass rusher, he is versatile enough to play a significant role as a rookie. This pick would take care of Detroit's long-term need for a nose tackle.
MARCUS DAVENPORT, DE, UTSA (5)
Thoughts: Davenport is raw, but has an unteachable frame paired with elite athleticism, drawing comparisons to Ansah. There's a belief it will take one, maybe two full seasons for Davenport to get fully comfortable in the complex, multiple front Detroit's installing this offseason, but his ceiling, as an all-around defender, is higher than than Landry's.
TAVEN BRYAN, DT, Florida (3)
Thoughts: A third Gator defender in two years? Sure, why not? Byran, like Davenport, is in need of some serious refinement to his technique, but there's Pro Bowl potential here. The athleticism is off the charts for an interior rusher, and his explosive first step could give Detroit an interior pocket disruptor it lacks.
WILL HERNANDEZ, G, UTEP (2)
Thoughts: A personal favorite in this draft class, Hernandez is a behemoth who probably will play between 330 and 340 pounds. Strong as he is big, Hernandez would give the Lions a powerhouse at left guard to complete its overhaul of the offensive line. And while he might not be ideal for zone concepts, which often require interior linemen to get in space, Hernandez could significantly improve Detroit's power-running game.
ROQUAN SMITH, LB, Georgia (1)
Mocked by: Mark Maske, Washington Post
Thoughts: This is the only projection that had Smith sliding to the Lions. Most mocks have the Georgia linebacker coming off the board in the first 10 picks. If he's there for the Lions, yeah, you jump at the opportunity to add the rangy, hard-hitter. Plug him in at the weakside next to Jarrad Davis and you have two linebackers who don't have to leave the field.
MIKE HUGHES, CB, Central Florida (1)
Mocked by: Ben Volin, Boston Globe
Thoughts: You can make a strong case the Lions have a long-term need at cornerback, but the depth chart is pretty packed for 2018, making Hughes a poor first-round value. Between last year's second-round pick Teez Tabor, the returning Nevin Lawson and free-agent addition DeShawn Shead, the Lions should be able to find a capable complement to Darius Slay.
VITA VEA, DT, Washington (1)
Mocked by: Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus
Thoughts: Again, like Smith, few expect Vea to be there when the Lions are on the clock. But, as the cliche goes, you run to the podium if you have the chance to land the big fella. Vea has the potential to be the league's next great nose tackle, given his surprising athleticism for his size.
KOLTON MILLER, OT, UCLA (1)
Mocked by: Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk
Thoughts: I can justify just about any projection, but an offensive tackle? Taylor Decker is stellar on the left side and the Lions committed a monster, long-term contract to right tackle Rick Wagner last offseason. Nothing about Miller's profile and skill set suggests he's a fit at guard, so we'll just assume Florio was working off a needs list for Detroit that hadn't been updated since last year.
MAURICE HURST, DT, Michigan (1)
Mocked by: Dan Kader, SB Nation
Thoughts: Hurst has the skill set to be an exceptional pro, but I'm not sure he's going to be a strong fit for Detroit's new scheme. As an undersized, penetrating 3-tech, he's best suited for an attacking front, similar to what the Lions have run in previous years. There will still be some situational elements of that in the new scheme, but his overall bulk could limit Hurst's role in a multiple front.
ARDEN KEY, DE, LSU (1)
Mocked by: Drafttek
Thoughts: Drafting Key strikes me as reaching for an inferior talent to address a need, which is something general manager Bob Quinn is unlikely to do.
RASHAAD EVANS, LB, Alabama (1)
Mocked by: Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
Thoughts: If the defensive linemen are all off the board, there's a case to be made for Evans. Similar to Smith, he has the range to be a sideline-to-sideline coverage 'backer on the weakside.
JUSTIN REID, S, Stanford (1)
Mocked by: Josh Norris, RotoWorld
Thoughts: Similarly faced with a projection that left Detroit without a viable defensive line option, Norris has the Lions trading down three spots with the Patriots, likely picking up extra draft assets in the process. Safety isn't a pressing need, but Reid's versatility would allow him to see the field in big nickel packages as a rookie while being groomed to replace either Tavon Wilson or Glover Quin in 2019.
TRADE OUT OF FIRST ROUND (1)
Mocked by: R.J. White, CBS Sports
Thoughts: A trade for two second-round picks, giving Detroit three total, wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. White suggests the Lions could use the first to take Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn, a stellar option to flesh out the team's offensive line. With the other two picks they could snag a second-tier defensive lineman — such as Key or Georgia's Lorenzo Carter — plus add a running back from the deep class of prospects.