Well the site is slow today, or maybe I am just trolling it too much. Either way, I seem to be chewing through more content than my appetite desires. So I decided to take a look at some guys in various rounds of this draft that are personal favorites of mine. I will attempt to rank the players in order of my value of them. I am not going to include defensive tackles as I feel we already have a starting caliber player on our roster in a back up role with Sammy Lee Hill. I also am going to steer clear of quarterbacks since Stafford and Hill are more than adequate.
Patrick Peterson: This is the top player on my value board and I think I would have an accident in my pants if the Lions moved up to get him. That being said I think the price would be too high to do so. Chances are pretty good he is off the board by pick 7 at the latest.
Von Miller: To me it is 1a and 1b with Peterson and him. This guy is an elite player and will be a stud in any scheme. That being said he will hold more value to a 3-4 team and I fully expect him to be off the board by pick 9 at the latest. In fact he very well may go off the board before Peterson.
Prince Amukamara: A safe solid pick at 13 he gives us the perfect corner for our scheme. He is an in your face type off corner that excels in playing up in a receivers face and forcing them to reroute. He is very sound fundamentally and has very good hips for a big guy. He is also very clean off the field and seems to have the right attitude to succeed in the NFL, all the intangibles check out. He is physical not only against the pass but the run as well. You will struggle to convince me that any other secondary player, including safeties, are better tacklers or at reading and properly playing a run from the secondary. I also believe that he is a bit undervalued as a rusher from the secondary. I see his starting potential to be on par with the current talent level of Charles Woodson. I do not think he is a shut down corner, but I do think that he is big, physical, and more than capable of being solid in coverage. If there is one knock on him it would be that he does not always have the hands you would want on a ball hawk. If this guy had better hands he would be challenging Peterson for the number one corner spot in the draft. That being said he is a former running back that knows what to do when he does get his hands on the ball. While he does not have the pure athleticism Woodson had in his younger days, he does have that play maker ability and he will only develop and flourish from this point forward where Woodson is on the decline. One other hole in his game is that he will not be good in playing off coverage, he simply does not have the agility and quick feet to read and react quickly enough when the other guy is given a free start off the line. But that is not any different than Patrick Peterson or Jimmy Smith.
Robert Quinn: While DE is not a very big positional need the talent here and possible upside warrants the pick. This guy has a special skill set that puts his ceiling very high. He has a scary burst off the line and the ability to dip and rip much like a Dwight Freeny. I see him as being our best pass rusher before the season is over. While it might take him a little time to catch up if the CBA forces a shortened off season I expect he would replace one of our starting ends anyways. This guy would likely spell the end of Turk McBride or Andre Fluellen and might just force Cliff Avril into a backup role sooner than many would think. In fact he might take over for KVB at RDE and push him over to the LDE spot. One nice thing about Quinn is that he can rush equally well from either side of the field, so not only would he be able to move around in the defense on the field presnap, but he also would provide versatility as a starter in the case of an injury to another guy. Putting him on our line would insure the Lions as one of the truly elite defensive lines and pass rush units in the NFL.
Brandon Harris: I know he is a bit of a reach at 13 but he fills a dire need for us and I actually like his skill set as a corner better than any other first round talent. While he lacks the size to be a freak type of corner, he is every bit big enough to play the position in the NFL. He also does not have the hands or play making ability of other corners in the top five of his position group. What he does have though is all of the intangibles and all of the technique along with good speed, hips, and footwork. He is definitely the most complete corner and most polished and pro ready of all the top five rated guys. He is also the most versatile. His skill set allows him to play off coverage, something that Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara, and Jimmy Smith can not do. On top of that he can bump inside if needed and play nickel back. Add in some toughness, moxie, and a very strong run game for a smaller corner. When I add it all up I am reminded of a guy like Antoine Winfield on the upside. I also see his downside above Chris Houston in my eyes. A bit of a reach, maybe, but still better than any corner we currently have.
A. J. Green: While this fella is more of a need than defensive end, there is a bit of a problem with taking him. He is a number one wide receiver and that could cause some issues on an offense that currently does not have any issues with who or how often a guy is getting the ball. Though he would be an amazing talent and scary as hell for opposing defenses to face along with Calvin and Nate, I think there would be an issue keeping him in town for a second contract with Calvin in the mix. He will likely be off the board before we pick anyways but if he is there I would hope the Lions can trade down.
Julio Jones: Similar to Green, I think this guy is a number one receiver and will cause issues down the road if we draft him. Though it is a good problem to have, it is not one I think the Lions should be willing to take on in this draft with so many available upgrade in other positions. Jones is also a perfect fit for a weest coast system, he is a ferocious competitor and probably the best run blocking receiver to come out of the draft this year. While he has a good 40 time he plays slower than that time and has issues separating on the short and medium routes because he tends to run them a bit sloppy. He is a much better deep route runner and while he would give opponents trouble, I am not sure that is what the Lions are looking for in the number 2 or 3 receiver spot. If he is on the board at 13 I am hoping for other teams to trade up with us rather than for us to draft him.
Ryan Kerrigan: I know I will take some heat for this but I do not see any defensive end in this draft that has been more productive, nor taken a game over and dominated it with the frequency of this guy. Everyone always describes him as a high motor guy and makes him seem like he is an effort only player. The truth is though that he has pretty elite speed, good balance, amazing endurance, and is a lot stronger than people give him credit for. I cannot think of any player I have ever seen that would fit better to be mentored by KVB. Putting this guy next to Suh would give opponents nightmares on the left side of their line for the next decade.
Cameron Jordan: This guy is highly under rated and I just cannot figure it out. His tape, talent, and intangibles put him as a far better physical freak DE in my eyes than Bowers. This guy actually has some speed and agility, a clean bill of health, and more than one year of tape. Again, I don't know why Bowers is rated so much higher than him. This guy most reminds me of Julius Peppers, a big guy that moves a lot better than he should. While he is not quite as elite as Peppers, he is not anything to be thumbing your nose at.
J. J. Watt: Much like Amukamara above, Watt might not be the most talented guy in his positional group, but he really don't have any holes or huge areas of weakness either. This guy could be a sleeper pick and just might be one of those guys that under the right coaches ends up surprising people and performing far beyond what the general expectations of him are. Most people see him as a 3-4 DE only, but I think he has a lot of room for improvement on pass rush technique. In year one he will be the kind of guy that is not flashy and will not tend to stand out as a play maker, but he will take care of his responsibilities and he will not hurt you for being on the field either. I see this guy as a bit of a safe pick. He may never develop into an elite pass rusher, but he also is one of the least likely players to bust in this draft. I do fully expect a 3-4 team to take him off the board before we pick though as he is hands down the best 3-4 DE in the draft class.
Gabe Carimi: While many might think I am crazy I am moving him up as my number one tackle prospect for the Lions. He has the size, physical attitude, strength, and coaching to step in and be a starter day one. The only problem is that it might be at Right Guard or Right Tackle and that is not really what you want at pick 13. I believe that he will be a starting left tackle in the NFL if he is force to be one, but I also think that he will likely be very similar to Jeff Backus. That being an elite right tackle / right guard who happens to be a left tackle because the team could not find anyone better. So while I do not think he will ever be dominant I do think his ceiling is a bit higher than Backus. He may actually make a pro bowl or two even if he has to play the left side, as an alternate. The reason I like him though is the fact that I feel he provides an absolute upgrade in day one and a long term insurance policy at left tackle in case Jason Fox does not work out.
Nate Solder: I know the guy needs a lot of work and that he is a bit of a developmental project. However his size and athleticism make him a unique prospect. Originally a tight end he does not have the experience at left tackle a lot of these guys do. That puts his ability to improve and his ceiling much higher in my opinion. The problems I have with his game mainly can be fixed with coaching and him getting a little bit of a nastier demeanor. Three years from now he just might be the best lineman of this class and is the most likely to be a dominant "shutdown" left tackle.
Tyron Smith: For a while I had Tyron above Carimi, however medical issues with his knee and the fact that he has rarely (only for a snap or two) played left tackle has put some red flags up for me. Much like Solder this guy has a higher ceiling than others. The main problem I have with taking him is that he does not give us much more than what I think Jason Fox already provides. However if the Lions are planning on moving on from the Gosder Cherilus endeavor, he makes a lot more sense to me. Taking this guy would likely spell the end for Gosder or Cory Hilliard.
Mike Pouncey: While I would cringe a bit if he was the pick at 13, because I feel like he is a much better value at 17 or even a bit later, he would provide a significant upgrade in talent and an immediate day one starter. Pouncey gets knocked a lot for his struggles with shotgun snaps early on this year. However that was corrected already and worst case scenario will be corrected by the end of his rookie year. While this guy is not the most athletic center you will ever see he is an amazing football player. Meaning that he has all of the intangibles you want to have in a guy anchoring the middle of your line. He also has the rare ability as a center to anchor against a 3-4 nose tackle. So no this would not be a sexy pick, but it would be highly effective.
Anthony Costanzo: A lot of people put him as the number one left tackle prospect on their boards, however I feel that his ceiling is very low. While he is very sound technically I have issues with his anchoring and his ability to handle elite speed. That is the kiss of death for me as a left tackle. Not only will he struggle to handle the bull rush of guys like Jared Allen, but he will struggle against the elite outside rushers like Peppers too. The plus for him is that he can get stronger and develop the ability to anchor better. Long term I see him as a very similar tackle as Carimi, with better technique but less mean streak. The difference in them as a left tackle three years from now is going to be marginal. While Anthony may be a better left tackle than Carimi when all is said and done, I feel like Gabe gives you more immediate impact and more versatility.
Aldon Smith: This guy has a nice burst off the line but I have a couple of issues with his game. For one, he has to play from a down position to be effective, unless the false step he takes while up gets coached out of him. When you consider that I take converting him to a line backer off the table, even though he has some experience playing it. He is not instinctual nor efficient when he is in an up position. The other issue I have with him is that his footwork as a pass rusher is not clean, and he tends to play a bit high for a smaller guy. Effectively I think he is a BIG project for a 4-3 team as a defensive end. Not only will he need at least a year of polish if not two to be an effective rusher IMO, he will also need to add size and strength to be able to play the run effectively. Think of him as Cliff Avril that has issues with technique, now think about how long it is taking Cliff to develop whom had less to work on when he was a rookie. I think you all understand why I am not high on this guy as a 4-3 DE now. That being said 3-4 teams will value him much much more than we do as a hybrid rush LB / 3rd down DE. The only way I want to see the Lions drafting this guy is if they trade down and everyone above is gone.
Kyle Rudolph: Obviously this is not a guy you pick at 13. However in a trade down he could add amazing versatility and value to the Lions. He is a unique talent I can best describe him by comparing him to Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler. He has amazing hands for a tight end and will immediately be our number one option as a receiver on third downs. He will not drop the balls like Grew. He is also going to be a much better route runner than Grew. That being said he is not much faster. When fully healed and back up to game speed he plays like a 4.7 guy. enough speed to threaten some deep post and seem patterns, but no Vernon Davis. He is a really good end zone jump ball target though as he will usually be covered by a linebacker or safety that he can out size or out athlete when the ball is in the air. When it comes to blocking he is not as good as Grew in run block, but just as solid pass blocking, and a significant upgrade over Scheffler. So while a lot of people might not like the pick, in the case we trade down to say 28, this guy could provide an absolutely lethal two tight end set with Pettigrew. It would also allow us to move on from the oft injured Scheffler, or the rarely used Heller.
Danny Watkins: In a trade down scenario he makes sense late in the first round. He fills an immediate need and is likely to be a pro bowl guard for years to come. Add in the fact that he used to be an enforcer in hockey and I think he fits right in to be playing in Hockeytown. He is most compared to Logan Mankins. For a guy who has not played much football he is very sound fundamentally. He also has a mean streak and very good use of leverage and his hands to go along with very good endurance. While he is a bit old for a rookie at age 27 he is probably the most pro ready lineman in the draft.
Aaron Williams: Again the trade down scenario. Drafting this guy would give us a very nice compliment to Delmas that can step in day one and be a game changer. While this pick would not make the most sense from a positional need standpoint it would help to cover a lot of deficiencies in a weak outside corner tandem. The fact that this guy is not only a ball hawk but also an impact player against the run would make him too tempting for me to pass up as a late first round pick. Providing the linebackers with solid backup against the run from both safeties, along with the corners solid help over the top from both sides might be a round about way of upgrading the defense, but it also might just be the glue this defense needs to help mesh a weak line backer corps and corner tandem with a dominant front line. In a very obscure way, this guy might just be the biggest on field impact player for the Lions defense.
Guys that I have off my board that I would not take in round one, but I will trust in the front office should they be drafted are listed below.
Jimmy Smith: Severe character concerns here for me.
Da'Quan Bowers: Concerns over medical, work ethic, and talent match up to scheme fit.
Mark Ingram: Medical concerns along with lack of any real dominant part to his game. While he is goood at everything, he is great at nothing.
Adrian Clayborn: Medical Concerns along with work ethic.
Cameron Heyward: Concerned that his talent does not match our scheme well.
Brooks Reed: I don't think he matches up well with out scheme.
Akeem Ayers: Concerns over talent matching up to scheme fit along with character concerns.
Well that is it for first rounders, anyone beyond this I would normally grade out as second round talent or happens to play DT or QB.