Hey guys. I did some research and came up with a mock draft for the Lions in the upcoming 2012 NFL draft. Now, I'm not going to say that this is even close to what will happen, but I do have some reasoning to back up my mock. For now, I will just put it out there and see what everyone thinks. Later, I will come back and possibly explain my reasoning. Here you go:
The Lions have needs at OT, C, G, CB, DE, LB, and S. With all of the top rated OTs, Gs, and DEs gone (see my full 1-22 mock at The Mane Attraction), the Lions will be left looking at C, LB, CB, and S at pick 23. Available, highly ranked (according to Scout.com), players at those positions include Peter Konz (17), Zach Brown(18), Janoris Jenkins(20), Alfonzo Denard(25), and Mark Barron(21).
Peter Konz is without a doubt the best center in this draft. Hands down he is the top rated prospect at his position. He is intimidating, smart, nasty, and a great run blocker, which is something the Lions have been missing in the middle of their O-line for a very long time. However, he is projected as a round 2 prospect because of the fact that he is a center. Zach Brown is second only to Courtney Upshaw at the OLB position. However, he is also projected as the best 4-3 OLB in the draft. Since the Lions run a 4-3, Zach Brown fits their scheme very well AND he is the best 4-3 OLB in the draft. Again, Brown is projected as a 2nd round prospect however. Janoris Jenkins is ranked by many as the 2nd best CB in the draft. He is also ranked by many as the 3rd or 4th best behind Claiborne, Kirkpatrick, and sometimes Gilmore. That said, Janoris Jenkins is a consensus first round pick. Alfonzo Denard is also a consensus first round pick, but he is ranked behind Claiborne, Kirkpatrick, Jenkins, and sometimes Gilmore. Mark Barron is the consensus #1 SS in the draft, but he is also projected as a round 2 prospect. So what will the Lions do at pick 23?
Based on what Mayhew and company have done in the recent past, they will be looking to draft the best player available. If one of those players is ranked as the best player at their position, both by the "experts" and on their big board, then they will choose that player. It is almost a God given certainty. That said, Mayhew has also made it clear that this draft is not as much about who they will take as who they will not. Does that mean they will not choose Jenkins because of his "character issues"? Janoris Jenkins is the highest ranked player available that projects as a first round pick at this point. That said, Peter Konz is the definite best player at his position, as is Zach Brown and Mark Barron. Is this a difficult decision? Maybe not for the Lion's front office, but it is certainly difficult to project from my standpoint.
My opinion is that the pick SHOULD be Janoris Jenkins if the rest of the draft were to play out as I have suggested (See The Mane Attraction). However, my heart says that the Lions will not draft Jenkins. If the Lions are to draft a player at pick 23, who projects as a second round prospect, rather than give Jenkins a chance, then my hope is that they either trade down OR draft Peter Konz. Since the Lions re-signed Tulloch, the need for a LB shifts down some. They could potentially afford to take a wait and see approach on a LB in the 2nd or later rounds. The Lions have, and are apparently very high on, Louis Delmas and Amari Spievey at safety, so that may not be a very high priority either, which could allow them to also take the wait and see approach there. In my opinion the Lion's greatest need is at CB, followed by solid run blockers up front. Clearly the Lion's propensity has been to draft the "BPA", but that has often been the highest ranked player at their position rather than by consensus rank alone. Matt Stafford was the best QB, Brandon Pettigrew was the best TE, Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh were the best DTs, in their respective drafts. Were all of these guys the "best player available" at their draft positions, or were they simply the best player at their positions and also high on the Lion's big board? An argument could be made against both Pettigrew and Fairley, but you get the idea.
My prediction here is not going to be based on what I think the Lions should do, but rather what I believe they WILL do if the situation is as I have outlined. My mind says they should give Jenkins a chance and choose him, but my heart says the pick will be Peter Konz. I will be happy with this pick, but I will always feel that the pick SHOULD have been Jenkins.
Round 1, Pick 23 - Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Round 2, Pick 54 - If they can't move up for Zach Brown, they'll take Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
Round 3, Pick 85 - It's a toss up depending on who does or does not fall, or whether or not they move up again for a RB like LaMichael James, but if they sit at 85 I think they could draft Trumaine Johnson, CB/FS, Montana.
Round 4, Pick 117 - If Vontaze Burfict is still on the board, I don't know how you pass on him here. Maybe they go Travis Lewis if he falls and Burfict is gone. That said, the Lions will probably look at an OT/G to develop here, or a safety. Some think it will be George Iloka, S, Boise State. I'm thinking more along the lines of Nate Potter, G/OT, Boise State. He needs to put on weight and gain some leg strength for drive blocking, but he should have time to do just that in Detroit, and he has the potential to be the replacement for Backus in the near future.
Round 5, Pick 158 - It's a major crapshoot at this point. BPA. Probably a DE, LB, QB, or OL...Maybe Jake Bequette, DE/OLB, Arkansas.
Round 7, Pick 219 (from Seattle...forfeiture of 6th round pick) - BPA. Maybe a LB or S. Perhaps they take a shot on someone like Sean Cattouse, SS, California, Tony Dye, SS, UCLA, or Lance Mitchell, S, Oregon State should they fall. I think they will keep an open mind and wait to see who is available. They'll pick someone who has value.
Round 7, Pick 230 - BPA...maybe a developmental QB...maybe a guy like Dominique Davis, QB, East Carolina.
What do you think?