Back at it again, Mel Kiper Jr. released the second iteration of his 2017 mock draft series this morning. It’s full of interesting selections like Taco Charlton going in the top ten and well-known draft crush of mine Zay Jones sneaking his way into the first round.
You can read “Kiper's 2017 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: A Fournette surprise” if you have an Insider subscription, but if you can’t, spoiler alert: The Leonard Fournette surprise isn’t him slipping to the Lions.
Few names, if any, get the attention that Mel Kiper Jr. does when they release a mock draft. Partly because he’s been doing it for so long, mainly because he’s been publishing it through the conduit that is the Worldwide Leader. If you’re looking for another reason, it doesn’t exist, sort of like the bust of Mike Williams in Canton.
In Kiper’s first version of his mock, he had the Lions selecting Tim Williams, an OLB/DE hybrid from Alabama. Given what information we’ve gleaned from draft profiles and our own Alex Reno, the pick seemed like a questionable selection for a team that just traded Kyle Van Noy in the midst of last season.
In his second edition, Kiper has the Lions tapping the Crimson Tide talent pipeline once again, but this time for some help in the secondary. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey, a redshirt sophomore from Alabama, is Kiper’s choice for Detroit at No. 21:
By the time we're done at the combine, I suspect most everyone will see Humphrey as a first-rounder. He has length, strength, speed and bloodlines, and pretty much everyone could use another good cornerback or two in 2017. Detroit certainly qualifies; it's a pretty weak group beyond Darius Slay, and Slay battled some injuries in 2016. The Lions have some good things going, but they need to add some help on defense.
Back in early January, Reno had this to say about the prospect of Humphrey joining the Lions:
There may not be a more physical corner than Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey, but that’s not exactly surprising to hear from a Crimson Tide prospect ... It’s possible that Humphrey will not be on the board by the time the Lions are on the clock, and it’s also possible that he may not be the best fit for Teryl Austin’s defense ... Humphrey is still a raw prospect and has struggled in off-man coverage, and we know how often Austin loves to leave cushion between his DBs and opposing receivers.
Humphrey arrived at Alabama a track and field star, but quickly proved his football chops by showing an aptitude for the game and a willingness to be physical. His size and speed are tantalizing, without question, but his skill set seemingly limits him to playing outside the hash marks; Detroit would really benefit from adding a corner with some more versatility.
It’s clear the Lions need to bolster their defense by adding depth at nearly every position, but they could stand to upgrade some of their starters, too—and that includes cornerback. With less than a month before the start of free agency, we’ll see if cornerback is still a position of need in April’s draft.