With the 34th pick of the 2010 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft, the Detroit Lions select Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews.
Here is DrewsLions' reasoning for the pick:
This turned into a really interesting pick. In my opinion, there are lots of good options, but no perfect option. I entertained lots of different players here... nine, to be honest. Those players, in one way or another, would be good picks for the Lions at this slotting and provide value... albeit in different forms of value for each different player, but value nonetheless. I think I'll be hard-pressed to please everyone with this pick, but I doubt anyone will say that they can completely disagree.
Just for the record, Devin McCourty would have been the pick had he not gone to the Vikes (I still call "heresy" by the way). He was the one true "need meets value" pick left on my board. I know some people aren't real high on him, but I think he would have fit very well. He's not the biggest corner out there, but he has sound fundamentals and ran better than expected at the combine. He's just one of those guys that is an all-around good football player and that's what Mayhew looks for... and the staff liked him at the Senior Bowl.
Continued after the jump...
Okay, so enough about the players I can't take. For my pick, I simply went with my BPA that merged with need. In other words, I pulled a Mayhew and just stuck to my board even though I was very close to writing down a different name. Before I get into why I selected Ryan Mathews, let me tell you who I didn't select.
The bottom half of the eight other players I looked at (with rankings in parantheses) were made up of tackles Charles Brown (9) and Rodger Saffold (8), wide receivers Golden Tate (7) and Damian Williams (6) and also defensive end Carlos Dunlap (5). Really, the signing of Rob Sims sold me on holding off from drafting an offensive lineman this early. But there was enough value in Saffold and Brown that there was a fleeting thought of grabbing a steal-in the-second-round by taking one of these two. Just too many needs out there and neither was really BPA on my board. As for Tate and Williams, both are intriguing prospects and I actually had Williams ranked fairly high. Tate is a slot guy, no question there. I think we need to give Derrick Williams one more year to earn that role. Damian Williams has good size for a guy that could challenge Burleson for the future "guy not named Calvin" starter on the outside. He's a good route runner and is known for his good hands and few drops. My question with him (aside from the shoulder injury) is his physicality off the line. How will he hold up against good man-to-man corners in the NFL? As for Dunlap... he was a real head-scratcher. Lots of talent and probably a great value here, but again... I'm just not a risk-taker and neither is Mayhew. The guy has great size and tons of potential, but there is no mistaking that the dude takes plays off. No work ethic means no Mayhew pick in my book... regardless of talent. So no Mayhew pick... no Drew pick.
So I whittled it down to my four remaining players... running backs Jahvid Best (4) and Ryan Mathews (1), safety Nate Allen (2) and cornerback Patrick Robinson (3). Patrick Robinson is corner that I think can be great if he can be coached up a bit. I know a lot of people have him further down their boards, but it was really a tough decision for me not to take him. He's got all the tools, he just needs to have the desire. In the end, I felt I was reaching due to the dire need at corner... so that's a warning sign to make a different decision. Safety Nate Allen is a prospect that has intrigued me for some time. If Mathews went before this pick, Allen would have been the guy. Most people don't have him ranked this high, but Allen is a definitive Mayhew/Schwartz pick. No, he's not the fastest guy on the field, but he is a gamer... and that's what ultimately matters. He reminds me of a young Darren Sharper... always around the ball, always making plays. I think he and Delmas would have been a great tandem for years to come.
But Mathews is the guy who represents the most value for the pick for me. Most mocks have this guy as mid-to-late first round talent and I'm surprised that he's still sitting here. If you noticed, I left Jahvid Best out of my explanations above. I wanted to show why I picked Mathews over Best. Basically, the comparison between these two is speed over power... to an extent. I think the reason that many would prefer Best is because he has a little more of the home-run ability... kind of like a poor man's C.J. Spiller. True, he is more of an open field threat, but when it came down to overall ability, I think Mathews is really a long way ahead of Best. Mathews' downside might be that he's not a real third-down threat, but we have Aaron Brown for that role. Mathews is not huge, but he's a strong, physical runner that can carry the ball 20+ times a game and doesn't piss around at the line of scrimmage... he attacks the hole and gets yardage. In other words, he's productive and durable. He's also a great blocker. Probably much better than Kevin Smith will ever be (at blocking) and can be kept in on passing downs as such. He just brings a lot of versatility and gives us a great, long-term starting running back with few question marks.
It does pain me a bit to take a running back here... because I do like Kevin Smith and I think there are other pressing needs that could be alleviated here. But I'm also a realist and I know that there are good odds that Smith won't be back at 100% the entire 2010 season. Our potential in 2010 hinges on Matthew Stafford taking big strides to being a real franchise quarterback. To do that, the offensive line must be adequate, we must open the field for Calvin Johnson and we MUST have a running game. There are no guarantees with Kevin Smith, so we HAVE to hedge our bets. Mathews will be the guy of the future and I'll bet Kevin Smith turns into future trade bait. Sad... but it's the way of the NFL.
Check out the 2010 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.
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