The offseason is upon us. Get ready for endless back-and-forth jabbering related to free agency and the 2017 NFL Draft. Right now, a lot of you are probably mildly excited to talk about what the Detroit Lions’ roster will look like next year, but give it another two and a half months and we’ll all be ripping each others heads off and getting mad online because, let’s face it, the offseason is just too damn long. But that doesn’t matter because we’re all football fiends.
Today, I give you my early seven-round Detroit Lions mock draft. If you haven’t heard by now, there is a beautiful website out there called Fanspeak, which is one of many mock draft simulation sites that allow you to pick prospects for your favorite team. It’s a lot of fun, trust me.
For this experiment, let’s pretend like it’s the real deal. You’ve got one chance to pick the best possible draft scenario you can come up with. No mulligans, no do-overs, just one attempt at improving your team. If you want to take it even further, try giving yourself a time limit between each pick. Here is a link to Fanspeak’s On The Clock tool.*
*Note: You’re able to upgrade to a premium account if you wish to set up your own draft board and have the option to trade up or down with other teams.
21: R1P21 | EDGE Taco Charlton (Michigan)
No, I’m not a Michigan fan. Yes, I truly believe Taco is that good and a perfect fit for this defense. Here is what I had to say about him earlier this month:
Taco has great size for the position (6-foot-5, 272 pounds) along with plus-athleticism. His first step and burst off the snap is just good enough, but he often makes up for any slow jumps with his long arms and low pad level to gain leverage and overpower his opponents. Despite his inconsistent timing of the snap, he is still able to occasionally beat slower tackles around the edge and he does exhibit impressive flexibility around the edge.
If Taco can continue to develop and gain a better understanding of certain situations and when to use specific pass rushing techniques, along with improving his discipline in the run game, he can turn into a stud DE at the next level.
53: R2P21 | CB Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson)
Tankersley is a raw prospect, but has the size (6-foot-0, 200 pounds), speed and athleticism to warrant a Day 2 selection. He does a great job in man coverage by sticking with his receiver and attacking the ball at its highest point. With nine interceptions over his last two years combined, Tankersley has displayed tremendous ball skills.
Tankersley made the right choice to stay in school for another year to work on his technique and other flaws. Most of his issues are very coachable, and if Teryl Austin can go back to his “DB whisperer” ways, then you could see Tankersley developing into a solid shutdown No. 2 corner, which would also move Nevin Lawson back to his natural spot at slot corner and add some depth in the process with Quandre Diggs giving him a run for his money.
85: R3P21 | DT Montravius Adams (Auburn)
Adams was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school with offers from virtually every top school in the country. His college production and tape hasn’t exactly matched his recruitment hype, to say the least, but he did make strides in 2016 after a disappointing junior season.
Although he’s not quite close to being a finished product, Adams has something that you simply cannot teach: a great first step. In the play above, Adams gets as good of a jump off the snap as you can get and manages to split a double team, forcing the QB to tuck and run on third-and-7.
As a Lions fan, how frustrating was it to watch Aaron Rodgers step up in the pocket effortlessly and avoid the outside pass rush from the Lions? It was simple for him, because the Lions do not have a defensive tackle that can push the pocket in the passing game and prevent an opposing QB from stepping up into the pocket. Adams is a natural 3-tech/one-gap penetrator and with the right coaching, he’ll be able to give the Lions what they need in the passing game.
126: R4P21 | WR Shelton Gibson (West Virginia)
Through three rounds, we’ve given the Lions some help on the defensive side of the ball, but what about the offense? According to SportingCharts, the Lions ranked 24th in “Big Play percentage.” They define a big play to consist of a run that gains 10+ yards, or a passing play resulting in 25+ yards. Marvin Jones was brought in last year as an outside receiver that could occasionally stretch the field, but he wasn’t able to get it done during the second half of the season.
Gibson is someone who specializes in big plays and has the ability to blow the top off of a defense at any given moment. In his last two years with the Mountaineers, Gibson led the Big 12 in yards per reception each year with 24.0 YPR in 2015 and 22.1 YPR in 2016. At a listed 6-foot-0, 198 pounds, Gibson has legitimate 4.35 speed and could draw some DeSean Jackson comparisons.
166: R5P21 | RB James Conner (Pittsburgh)
In terms of character and off-the-field concerns (or lack thereof), James Conner checks off every box without a hitch. He gets his toughness from growing up as the youngest of five brothers, and was often at the center of his older brother’s tormenting and playful tricks.
On a more serious note, months after suffering a season ending MCL injury in 2015, Conner received news from his doctor that would change his life. After seeing a specialist, a PET scan would reveal that Conner had a large tumor growing in his chest, and in December he would announce to the sports world that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
Fast forward to January of 2017 and James Conner is considered to be an early-Day 3 option for any team that is looking for a power running back. How? After beating cancer in 2016, Conner would return to the field and return to his old form, carrying the ball 216 times for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns, and even added a new element to his game, more than doubling his receptions (21) in 2016 compared to his previous three years combined.
Conner promised us he would play football again, and he did. I promise that this kid is special and one of the best power runner’s in this year’s class. He would add a completely new dynamic to the Lions’ running game.
206: R6P21 | LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (Tennessee)
Reeves-Maybin had a very impressive junior season for the Volunteers tallying 105 total tackles (14 for a loss), six sacks, four pass deflections and two forced fumbles. He had an unfortunate end to his 2016 campaign, however, suffering a season-ending left shoulder injury.
As of now, Reeves-Maybin is widely considered to be a later round prospect, as he is a tad undersized for a linebacker (6-foot-0, 230 pounds), but he does share some similarities to what many believed the Lions saw in Miles Killebrew. Reeves-Maybin has the ability to play both safety and linebacker, though Tennessee decided to keep him mostly as a weak-side linebacker. He has the speed and athleticism, along with some decent cover skills to line up as a slot corner, and an impressive ability to weave his way through defenders and shoot the gap as a blitzing linebacker.
Adding a guy like Reeves-Maybin would immediately give the Lions some much needed speed at the linebacker position, as well as some depth and insurance at both linebacker and potentially safety.
216: R6P31 | QB Alek Torgersen (Penn)
Here’s what we know: Dan Orlovsky’s contract is up this year. He’s also not a very good backup quarterback.
My gut is also telling me that after Randy Edsall left the Lions to take on a head coaching gig at Orlovsky’s alma mater, UConn, there is a strong possibility that Orlovsky could hang up his cleats and go on to coach under Edsall. After all, he did seem pretty excited about the hiring.
We also don’t know much about how ready Jake Rudock is to take on the backup quarterback job, and a kid like Torgersen, who had an impressive week of practices during East/West Shrine Game week, could come in and push Rudock for that spot.
Penn QB Alek Torgersen is a guy that @FBallGameplan has told me about all season. Can def confirm he has a live arm. Throws it on a rope.— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) January 16, 2017
Here’s what Emory Hunt of FootballGameplan had to say late last year on Torgersen:
Torgersen is one to definitely keep an eye on for 2017. In this game he showed tremendous downfield accuracy. Going down the sideline, Torgersen displayed the touch necessary to allow the receiver to not break stride. He is, quite honestly, A+ in that area. Best I’ve seen live this season. He’s a really good athlete that can be effective on zone fakes both as a runner, and as a thrower. Torgersen is tough in the pocket, standing tall in the face of pressure. He’s going to be a really good prospect entering his senior season.
253: R7P32 | TE Josiah Price (Michigan State)
Wouldn’t be a seven-round mock draft in January if you had any clue who most of these late-round prospects were and didn’t settle on a hometown prospect, am I right? But seriously, the Lions could desperately use a blocking tight end and that’s exactly what Price has done throughout his college career for the Spartans. It also helps that he has some pretty reliable hands and came up big in some key situations.
But, of course, as a late-round prospect, Price does have his limitations. He’s fairly undersized and not much of an athlete compared to most of the top prospects. Still, you take what you can get with only a few picks remaining in the draft. I think the Lions would be happy to snag a nice blocking TE like Price this late in the draft.
Let’s hear it, Lions fans. Click on the link provided, give us your mocks and argue with your cat.