With the 44th pick of Pride of Detroit's 2011 NFL Mock Draft, the Detroit Lions select New Mexico State cornerback Davon House. DrewsLions is serving as the Lions' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
Okay, so once again I'm in a tough position. Looking at my board, I could easily justify trying to move back (and probably get this same player) and pick up a late round draft pick in the process, but of course I don't have that option here. I am really struggling with myself in terms of how much "need" I am putting into this decision. Logic tells me to pick up the best player, but my heart tells me that the situation at cornerback is dire. I simply have to entertain the possible scenario of Chris Houston not re-signing with the Lions and that is a scary thought.
As I looked at my board, I could see lots of possibilities but no perfect solution. Each different player seems to take the team in a certain direction, yet none fill any gaping holes. I knew that if I wanted to fill one of those holes, I was going to have to reach at least a little. How much I was reaching was the struggle I'm sure all GMs go through on draft day. You want to stick to your player rankings -- that's why you have them. You want your team to get better, not just try to stick a player in a hole and hope it works out. But at the end of the day, I still believe that the selection must be a variable mix of BPA, need and value for the draft slot. It's the GM's decision on how much each of those elements play into that particular situation and whether or not you believe the player will succeed within your organization.
Before I tell you why I selected Davon House, here are the other players I entertained. There were two interior offensive linemen in Stefen Wisniewski and Danny Watkins that made some sense here. I think Watkins is better suited for guard, while Wisniewski would have been drafted as the eventual successor at center. But ultimately, I have strong reservations in two areas here. First, could either of these guys beat out Stephen Peterman and play this year? Would this be a pick used solely for future succession planning? That seemed to really drive down the value of taking one of these guys. I can find a successor in round four or later. And second, is Wisniewski the same player as Dominic Raiola? They both struggle with the bigger interior guys and Wisniewski is a tad undersized, just like Dom. If that's the case, I'll just stick with Dom another year and keep looking.
Next, I entertained the notion of a wide receiver, and I know that's not an overly popular pick here. But we do have a need for a speedy third wide receiver and there were two guys I kind of liked here: Titus Young and Torrey Smith. I guess Young was a little more like an afterthought as I had Smith ranked higher. Although I believe there would be real value in taking Smith, I was pushed, pulled and twisted in knots about the hole at corner.
I'll say up-front that Davon House is all over the place in terms of the mocks and big boards out there -- anywhere from high second to late third round. This pick is based on taking in all that feedback from around the web and merging it with what I see in him, and I like what I see so far. Yes, need played a part in this selection. A big part. Is he a little bit of a reach? Yes. But truly, I had him at No. 39 on my board of 50 players I put together two weeks ago, so I am really not deviating that much from my plan (I honestly had him ranked higher than Ras-I Dowling). Of the available players remaining, I had Watkins, Wisniewski, Smith, Martez Wilson and Mikel LeShoure ranked ahead of him. My thinking is that once you get past the top 10-15 players, many of these player's overall value rankings are nearly indistinguishable and the talent level becomes more flat and static versus dynamic within a larger range of equal value across your board. With that line of thinking, this isn't as much of a reach when you toss need into the mix. I just think the player has to fit in terms of what you want to do with him and whether or not you think he will succeed in the NFL. House fit that description for me.
He's not the fastest corner in the draft, but he has some key characteristics that make him a good fit for the Lions, which is what matters. First, he has good man-coverage skills and is a physical player. You want a guy who has that natural ability to backpedal and has good hip-swivel. I think he has that. He's also a sure tackler, which is something that will intrigue the Lions. Second, he has good ball skills and has a nose for the big play. Sure his production went down somewhat in his last season at New Mexico State (because he wasn't targeted as much perhaps?), but he seems to have that awareness for where the ball is and the instincts to make something happen with it (kind of like Alphonso Smith). He's not the most gifted corner, but he always seems to make a play or two every game. I like that about him. Lastly, he has no character, work ethic or injury issues. He did fight a nagging ankle last year, but never missed a single game at the collegiate level and even started 12 games as a true freshman. With all the injury woes the Lions have been handed, some reassurance that this kid is tough and will play through injuries means something.
Okay, so this won't please everyone, but hopefully you can understand the logic here. Fire away!
Check out the 2011 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.