With the 33rd pick of the 2009 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft, the Detroit Lions select Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers.
Here is DrewsLions' reasoning for the pick:
I suppose I was a bit naïve to think that the #33 pick was going to be easy. Unlike the #20 pick which didn't have a lot of great options, the #33 pick ends up being a tough selection because of the number of good options available. The pressure is now on me to able to make the right selection here. After much debate, I narrowed my search to four capable players: Robert Ayers, Evander Hood, Alex Mack and Duke Robinson.
I'll start with the two guards, Alex Mack and Duke Robinson. There is no doubt in my mind that both of these players instantly upgrade our offensive line. There is little downside to picking either of these players. Mack might be the more talented of the two because of his ability to play center as well and would be a great asset as Raiola's back-up or eventual successor. But I probably would have taken Robinson over Mack. He is the best pure guard in the draft and I'll be surprised to see him last this long in the real draft. He is a mauler and the run blocker we've needed for many years. At 6'5", 335 lbs, he is a true road-grader but could play right tackle if needed. It was hard to pass on both of these great prospects, but I just felt there was a player there for the taking with more upside and value.
With Hood, I just felt like I might be reaching a little and letting the pressure of needing a good defensive tackle cloud my vision of the best player available. If Hood had Ron Brace's size and kept a bit of his athleticism, he would have been an easy choice. The fact is, Hood isn't as athletic as Peria Jerry and isn't the run stuffer that Ron Brace is. This spot is too high for Brace and since Jerry's off the board, you're left with a bit of a ‘tweener in Hood that is probably better suited for the mid to late 2nd or early 3rd round in terms of value. Some will probably disagree with that sentiment, but that's how I feel after looking at a lot of film and doing a lot of research on him.
That leads me to my pick of Robert Ayers. I truly thought that someone would scoop him up prior to this pick - especially with the fuss some of you made over me not taking him at #20. But choosing Ayers was still a bit of a leap for me. His ability and upside are great, but there are some concerns over his character and passion for the game. For me, taking Ayers is the closest that I will come to taking a risk. But at the #33 pick, when many have Ayers projected in the mid-first round and specifically Mike Mayock - who calls Ayers a Top 5 player (I disagree with that assessment, by the way) - it's tough to pass on him.
Although defensive end is not an immediately pressing need, there are two reasons that I felt I could make this pick here and now. First is Ayers overall ability. His quarterback rushing skills and initial burst are not of the Top 5 caliber, but his play against the run is absolutely worthy of that designation. I can see him playing on first and second down with Avril being the third down rusher. With Cunningham barking on his ass all day and with Schwartz's ability to scheme for his talent, I think that Ayers can be an absolute steal at this point in the draft and have an immediate impact. My second reason is that I can still see us being able to get a solid guard and defensive tackle in the third round. Guys like Brace and Urbik could slide into the third round and there will be other good options there as well. I think this is where the Lions take a little bit of a risk, but could end up with three good first round-caliber players.
Again, this pick will not satisfy everyone. There seem to be those on the Ayers bandwagon and those that think he'll be a bust. But at the top of the second round, I think there is significant value in the pick. Ayers could be a major part of this team finally solidifying their run defense - which is atop the to-do list for the Schwartz regime.
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