With the 13th pick of Pride of Detroit's 2011 NFL Mock Draft, the Detroit Lions select California defensive end Cameron Jordan. DrewsLions is serving as the Lions' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
Like past years, I'll give you a quick explanation of the methodology used when I make a selection. That way I won't have to explain it before each of the picks I'll be making for the Lions. First, I'll be trying my best to marry positional value, best player philosophy, talent and overall impact. That's a mouthful and not always easy to do, but I just want to be clear that all of those things impact a real GM's decision, so they will in turn affect mine. Second, the pick will be "my" pick, but I also will not make a selection that I think the Lions "wouldn't" make. For example, I really like a kicker at No. 13, but I know that the Lions wouldn't make that selection, so I move to the next most logical option where I feel the Lions might legitimately be interested.
Alright, let me preface this pick by saying that if I am Martin Mayhew, I am calling every team in the league and screaming to trade down. I had a feeling that I would be in this very position. I just don't feel like there is a need guy here that marries the No. 13 pick with value. And when that is the case, it's time to get the best player on the board. I really feel like I am pigeonholed into one of two positions here: defensive end or offensive tackle. On my board, the next four guys are of those two positions. Since the crying, pleading need on this team is linebacker and cornerback and there isn't one of those to be had without reaching more than a little bit, I'm going to go with the player that I think is the best value and fit.
This was a more difficult selection than I had thought it was going to be. While I don't fully buy into the hype of every mock giving the Lions an offensive tackle because we can't keep Matthew Stafford upright, I do see some sense in getting a long-term replacement for Jeff Backus that we can have compete at guard in the meantime. Maybe Backus kicks inside ... who knows. I just know that the offensive line isn't simply "set as is." We need an upgrade there at some point. Does it have to be with the No. 13 pick, though? This is where I struggle. I think we can get a solid guard/center prospect in later rounds.
So I had then decided on a defensive end, because you can never have enough players that can get after the quarterback, right? If we can't get a corner here, let's get a pass rusher that can give the quarterback less time and give the corners that are on the roster some help. There is no shame in giving this team more strength on the defensive line and you can never have enough great pass rushers. So why Cameron Jordan over J.J. Watt? Well for me, I love his versatility and I think that Gunther Cunningham would too. He can line up inside, outside and even rush the passer from a standing position. That's a pretty nice gift for a guy of Jordan's size. This will simply give this defense so much more flexibility and the ability to show so many different looks. They will have a group of guys up front where the staff will be able to do just about anything they want scheme-wise. In the end, I just thought Watt was a little less athletic and quick and probably was best suited to play inside or end in a 3-4.
I'll just add one quick note on corners Jimmy Smith and Brandon Harris. Every fiber of my being wanted to be able to select one of these guys, but there is so little consensus out there on these two players that there was no need for me to look too much further. In fact, on most of the decent "big boards" and mocks out there, both of these players have been second rounders lately. Although the temptation was there out of need, Martin Mayhew will not bite, so neither will I. This pick will surely not please everyone, but I think we netted a physical, athletically gifted defensive end, which always has value.
There you have it ... fire away!
Check out the 2011 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.