You know that when Mel Kiper Jr. busts out his first mock draft that it is officially Draft Season. This week the ESPN draft expert released his "Mock Draft 1.0" for the 2017 NFL Draft and it’s filled with a lot of surprises. You can view the whole thing here if you have ESPN Insider, but let’s focus specifically on his pick for the Lions.
At No. 21 overall, Kiper grabs Alabama defensive end/outside linebacker Tim Williams for the Lions. "Williams (6-4, 250) is a fantastic pass-rushing talent who can be unblockable at times," Kiper wrote in his column. "This is a clear need, especially with few pass-rushers available in free agency."
While I think Kiper’s head is in the right place here—a premier pass rusher is arguably the Detroit Lions’ biggest need—I’m not sure Williams is the man for the job. Kiper concedes that Williams will probably need to add some weight to move from outside linebacker to defensive end. That immediately conjures up visions of Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy almost had the exact same measurables (6-foot-3, 243) and was once labeled a top-level pass rusher. But after the Lions drafted him, he was unable to make the transition to a more traditional 4-3 linebacker or even as simply a pass-rush specialist.
It would be a dangerous gamble for the Lions to try this round-peg, square-hole line of thinking again with Williams. And even if he’s successful, he likely wouldn’t play much in Detroit. From our own Alex Reno:
His best play is going to be as a pass rushing OLB and would likely only see the field for about 10-25 percent of the Lions’ defensive snaps, if he were to start at SAM linebacker
This seems like a risky pick for the Lions, but what are your thoughts?