In Mel Kiper's latest mock draft, Lions take DE Montez Sweat
At the very least, the Detroit Lions partially addressed the team's pass-rush deficiencies in free agency, inking defensive end Trey Flowers to a five-year, $90-million deal. But it's fair to say you can never have enough players capable of getting after the quarterback.
With that in mind, ESPN's Mel Kiper has the Lions going back to that well in his latest mock draft, posted Wednesday morning. In the projection, he has the team taking Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat with the No. 8 pick.
"I really liked Sweat's 2018 film, as he had 11.5 sacks and was a terror off the edge for the Bulldogs," Kiper writes. "And after running a 4.41 40-yard dash at 260 pounds at the combine, he has likely locked in a spot in the top 10. There is a fit in Detroit, which just added big-money signing Trey Flowers as a replacement for Ezekiel Ansah but needs help on the other side. Sweat could be an impact pass-rusher in the tough NFC North."
The other side is occupied by Devon Kennard, who was signed to a three-year deal as a free agent last offseason. In 15 games, he tallied 46 stops and a career-high 7.0 sacks.
But Kennard was asked to handle a heavy workload in 2018. Despite missing a game, he was on the field for 87.5 percent of Detroit's defensive snaps, playing more than 90 percent in 14 games.
Sweat offers a prototypical frame and chart-topping speed for his position. He's also produced against the top levels of collegiate competition, topping double-digit sacks each of the past two seasons.
Kiper favors Sweat to the Lions over other edge-rushing options available at No. 8 in this scenario, including Michigan's Rashan Gary (No. 9 to the Buffalo Bills) and Florida State's Brian Burns (No. 15 to Washington). Sweat also is off the board ahead of top tight end T.J. Hockenson (No. 10) and disruptive interior lineman Ed Oliver (No. 14).
Gary's teammate, linebacker Devin Bush, long a Kiper favorite in this draft class, shoots up the board in this latest projection. After an outstanding performance at the league's scouting Combine last month, the ESPN analyst has Bush being taken by the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 11.
Michigan State cornerback Justin Layne, who has generated some first-round buzz after the Combine, didn't appear in this mock.
Georgia's DeAndre Baker (No. 20), Temple's Rock Ya-Sin (No. 27) and LSU's Greedy Williams (No. 29) were the only corners to make the cut.