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NFL mock draft: Detroit Lions select tight end O.J. Howard

SB Nation’s latest mock draft offering has the Lions selecting O.J. Howard, a tight end from Alabama, at No. 21.

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

It’s a new week, so that means more mock drafts are falling from the sky. Not only are the mocks dropping, but some players that haven’t been available in previously released mock drafts are finding their way to the Detroit Lions in the first round.

The Picks

The tight end position is a bit of a polarizing topic here in Detroit even though Eric Ebron had the best season of his young career in 2016. While the Lions aren’t in need of a No. 1 TE, they definitely need a compliment to Ebron, or better understood as a player with a more traditional tight end skill set i.e. someone who can run a route, catch a ball and hold his own as a blocker.

SB Nation’s Dan Kadar thinks the Lions might have a chance to plug that need at No. 21 by selecting Alabama TE O.J. Howard:

While Eric Ebron has statistically improved each season in the NFL, he’s still an inconsistent player. Howard is a sure-thing tight end who can catch and block. Having both Howard and Ebron on the field would create fun mismatches.

This could definitely be viewed as a luxury pick as the Lions have plenty of other areas where they could stand to make significant upgrades, but a talent like Howard slipping all the way to No. 21 is something that could be difficult to pass up. Since the conclusion of the Senior Bowl, Howard has seen his stock skyrocket, and many have finally become privy to the talent that was under-utilized at Alabama. In Daniel Jeremiah’s second update to his mock draft—which we examined here last week—Howard was plucked from the draft board by Cleveland at No. 12, the highest I’ve seen his name come off of anyone’s mock draft board.

Another mock draft—complete with awful, no good trades—that dropped today comes from former general manager turned NFL Media analyst Charley Casserly. O.J. Howard slips all the way to the New England Patriots at No. 32, but Casserly has the Lions sticking with an Alabama product and familiar name in OT Cam Robinson:

Robinson would replace Riley Reiff at right tackle should Reiff leave in free agency.

Some pretty succinct analysis from Casserly, but at this stage of the offseason, he could be right. Detroit might find Riley Reiff’s price tag too high for their liking once teams starving for some help at tackle are involved in the bidding process. Should he be too expensive and the Lions choose not to address the need in free agency, an OT in the first round for a second consecutive season could be a real possibility.

What do you think about the Lions drafting another first-round tight end? We discuss the possibility of drafting O.J. Howard and much more in this week’s episode of the PODcast.

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