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2017 mock draft previews: Midseason part 5

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The Detroit Lions were projected to pick in the top 5 prior to the season, which has obviously changed the outlook of mock drafts since they’ve been winning. Some players have stuck no matter where they’re picking, however.

Alabama v LSU Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

We’re not done yet, folks, and the mock drafts keep rolling in. Today we’re going to look at a few players that have been mocked consistently to the Detroit Lions. These guys saw their names first mentioned back as early as May and are still being linked to the team as possible first round picks by the Lions in November. In some cases, that’s because they’ve fallen a bit in the first round. In others, it’s just because they fit the team’s needs so well.

Previously: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Dalvin Cook, Florida State, RB

The two names that topped every RB list in the beginning of 2016 were Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook. Both players have taken a bit of a beating in the rankings, but you’ll still see one or the other high in the first round and the other down in the 20s. By coincidence, those are the places the Lions used to be projected and have been lately, so we’ve seen Cook in both places. Erik Lambert of NFL Mocks has this to say:

Personally, if I had to choose between the two I would go Fournette over Cook. Cook certainly has the better vision and patience, but a shoulder injury raises questions about his durability and he hasn’t played at the same, elite level he played at in 2015. Although he was found not guilty in a misdemeanor charge of battery in 2015, his off field character is going to be closely scrutinized as draft season approaches. His on field work ethic has been referred to glowingly, however, and even a dropoff in play from 2015 to 2016 shows a top tier RB.

Leonard Fournette, LSU, RB

Many of those projecting a RB to the Lions back in may had them pegged for LSU’s phenominal running back, Leonard Fournette. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller was one of them, and this was back when the team was picking sixth overall. Fournette hasn’t had the top tier season that he enjoyed when he ran for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2015, but he also hasn’t been receiving the same blocking. Fournette, like Cook, was good enough the year prior to see himself into the early rounds, but the reasons for the dropoff in production is going to be vetted heavily. Miller notes:

At 6-foot-1 and over 230 lbs., Fournette is a hog to bring down. He hasn’t been breaking tackles at the rate he was in previous years, but he is rushing for nearly 7 yards a carry which would be a career high. That’s even more impressive when you note that he’s done so with an ankle injury limiting him, but that injury is also the biggest reason he could fall to the second half of the first round. Will Carroll, one of the best injury experts you will find, notes that it may be a chronic problem requiring surgery.

Reuben Foster, Alabama, LB

Foster is a player I expected to be mocked to the Detroit Lions more often than he has been. One of the first players mocked by Todd McShay back in May, he’s been brought up a few times since then from major sites as an option and I find it interesting he isn’t mentioned more. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke had this to say when he mocked Reuben Foster to the Lions:

Some of the plays that Foster makes are amazing, eye-popping. Unlike Fournette and Cook, it’s possible Foster isn’t being mocked as much anymore because his stock has remained in the top half of the first round. He has a reputation as a downhill thumper, in part because of Alabama’s defense, but also because he’s very good in run support. That shouldn’t take away from the fact he’s also pretty good in coverage, an area the Lions are horrible in.

Last Word

I’m a big proponent of taking talent when it’s there. First round running backs find success at a higher rate than second round backs, who find more than third round backs, and onward. The Detroit Lions running back corps of Ameer Abdullah (IR), Theo Riddick (primarily a receiver), Zach Zenner (limited in role), and Dwayne Washington (limited due to role and injury) isn’t exactly comforting going forward. Despite that, I don’t think picking a RB is going to be the best value in this draft. There is too much talent at other positions, like cornerback or defensive end, to justify taking a rusher high. What do you think? Should the Lions take that risk on one of these players? Who have you seen in college football that would be a better option in the 2017 NFL draft? Let us know in the comments.