We’ve taken a look at several mock drafts already and seen a few trends that will likely continue as the draft approaches. One trend that faded fairly fast, in the first round at least, was running back. Indeed, RB was tied for the most mocked position to the Lions in all the mocks I’ve tracked even now, though almost all were from prior to October. I say most, because we’ve got at least one that happened in the second week of November, which is what we’re leading off with in this preview.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford, RB
Early in the offseason, projecting a running back to the Detroit Lions was all the rage. Dalvin Cook was the most common name, while Leonard Fournette was the highest profile. A name you didn’t hear often is Christian McCaffrey out of Stanford. One of the most prolific running backs of this decade in terms of production, McCaffrey has plenty of doubters. CBS’s Rob Rang mocked McCaffrey to the Lions, and he had this to say:
There are plenty who don’t think McCaffrey projects well to the NFL. Most of this is due to his size as he is another player who lacks the ‘ideal bulk’ to be an every down player in the NFL. In an offense that doesn’t use a RB in that kind of role, I could see McCaffrey fitting in perfectly with the Detroit Lions backfield. Screw power completely and just go with a trifecta of finesse with Abdullah, Riddick, and McCaffrey.
Solomon Thomas, Stanford, DE
Rob Rang’s CBS cohort, Dane Brugler, went with a different Stanford product in his 11/11 mock draft. He instead went defense with end Solomon Thomas. More compact than the type of pass rushers we’ve gotten used to in Detroit, Thomas has shown the top tier athleticism that players like Ezekiel Ansah and Devin Taylor possess. The question is going to be whether, like Ansah, he can harness that athleticism to become a premier player or, like Taylor, he cannot. Brugler writes:
Thomas has notched 22.5 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks over 21 games in 2015-2016. That kind of production is okay, but you’d obviously prefer a lot more than that if you’re picking a player high in the draft. A smart and instinctive player, Thomas represents a more balanced defensive end than some of the others we’ve previewed so far. I’m not sure he’s an elite talent, but I’m certain he’ll find a use on an NFL team in a starting role.
Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt, LB
Finally I’m finding a player that I truly want that is being mocked to the team! Zach Cunningham is a draft crush of mine and a player that it’s hard to watch without catching on immediately to who he is at an NFL level. DraftBlaster.com mocked Cunningham to the Lions at 20th overall, though they update their picks at the same link often and don’t provide write ups for picks. They did have this to say of Cunningham back in October:
Cunningham projects in many ways the same as DeAndre Levy right now. That isn’t to say he’d be reserved to a Will role, only that it would probably be his best spot. Should Levy heal and continue to play for the Lions, Cunningham should be able to slide into either of the other LB spots and be comfortable on any down. If Levy doesn’t recover fully, obviously that would put Cunningham as a more important piece in a Detroit Lions defense that lacks that mid level impact defender.
Midseason isn’t usually the time you start seeing the ‘weird’ picks, the out there ones that don’t make much sense on the surface and require a lot of explanation to make them work. Still, there are a few that maybe you didn’t see coming. These won’t be the last, and I’m certain we’re going to see a few stars align as time goes on. What do you think of these mocks, do any of these players get you excited for the future? Are there any players you feel would be better suited to the Detroit Lions roster? Let us know in the comments.