Sure, the 2017 NFL Draft is still two months away, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t time to hop on the mock draft train before it gets to full steam ahead.
Over at FanSpeak.com, they give you the chance to take on the role of your favorite team’s general manager and utilize their mock draft simulator. It almost brings you as close to the actual experience of being a general manager as Draft Day does. But, again, thanks to FanSpeak’s “On the Clock” tool, you don’t have to be Kevin Costner to live out the dream of an NFL GM.
So here’s the deal: I tried to keep things as realistic as possible and by that I mean yes, I did spend the $6.95 to upgrade to a premium account. How else was I going to truly live out the dream of being a GM if I didn’t afford myself the opportunity to move back in the draft?
For this, my “Mock Draft 1.0”, I imposed as many of the constraints the draft creates as possible—thank you to Alex Reno for the suggestion of using time limits once they put me on the clock. I even got a stranger to sit in the same room as me while drafting. His purpose, you might ask, was to shout things like “Take Player X” if the clock dipped to a certain time remaining. I wanted this to be as authentic to the experience as possible.
Round 1, Pick 21: Traded to SEA
I spent $6.95 for the opportunity to trade up and down, so you better believe I’m taking full advantage of this. The Seahawks see OT Ryan Ramczyk from Wisconsin still on the board and, desperately in need of help up front, they send their first-round pick (26th overall), third-round pick (90th overall) and compensatory third-round pick (106th overall) in exchange for Detroit’s first-round pick (21st overall) and sixth-round pick (181st overall).
Round 1, Pick 26: OLB Haason Reddick (Temple)
With edge rushers like Taco Charlton and Malik McDowell off the board, it was a no-brainer to move a few spots back and take the chance Reddick would still be available.
If there’s something the Lions absolutely need, it’s an upgrade at linebacker. Tahir Whitehead was targeted 87 times and allowed 72 receptions per PFF, the most receptions allowed by any linebacker and second among all defensive players—rookie Vernon Hargreaves allowed 80 receptions on 113 targets.
Reddick would immediately make an impact for Detroit. Our own Alex Reno had a lot to say about Reddick as a prospect, but here’s what it boils down to:
He has the sideline-to-sideline speed that Teryl Austin desperately needs at linebacker ... As a former defensive back and edge rusher, Reddick knows what it’s like to play at all levels of a defense and has the instincts and versatility to make plays all over the field. He will be used best at the next level as an off-ball linebacker and could play 4-3 or 3-4 ILB, as well as 4-3 WILL.
Round 2, Pick 53: CB Adoree’ Jackson (USC)
After passing on other talented cornerbacks like Gareon Conley from Ohio State and Tre’Davious White from LSU in the first round, the Lions land maybe the most dynamic athlete not named Jabrill Peppers in all of college football.
Straight up, Jackson is a playmaker. Detroit’s defense is in need of those type of players after generating only 14 turnovers—the fourth fewest among all teams in 2016.
Andre Roberts, the Lions punt return and kick return specialist in 2016, is a free agent. Even if Detroit decides to bring him back, drafting Jackson would only give them another threat on special teams.
Round 3, Pick 85: RB Kareem Hunt (Toledo)
Running back is not a need, but if Hunt is still available at this point in the draft, affix the card with Hunt’s name on it to a missile, point it towards the podium and fire without thinking twice.
Hunt’s stout base provides for good balance and strong running, but don’t get it twisted, he’s got the ability to make defenders miss with a mean spin move. Watch him put a defender four yards in the backfield into a spin cycle, get up-field and finish forward:
Kareem Hunt displays balance and his burst after the spin move to evade a tackle in the backfield. pic.twitter.com/GtXRmYg6IY— Ryan Mathews (@Ryan_POD) January 28, 2017
Hunt would be a great compliment to Ameer Abdullah out of the backfield, providing the missing element for the Lions running game.
Round 3, Pick 90: OG Isaac Asiata (Utah)
Larry Warford is almost assuredly headed elsewhere in free agency, so where do the Lions find his replacement? Sure, Graham Glasgow filled in nicely when Laken Tomlinson’s play wasn’t at the level it needed to be, but should Warford leave for greener pa$ture$, the Lions are suddenly slotting Glasgow at left guard and moving Tomlinson back to his natural position at right guard; they’d be left with virtually no depth at the position.
Detroit should take the draft as an opportunity to acquire some more depth along the interior of the offensive line and Isaac Asiata would do just that. In 2013, Asiata played right tackle, moved to right guard in 2014 for seven games and then primarily played left guard for the rest of his time at Utah. He’s a high character guy who’s tough and plays mean. In addition to both guard positions, he could play center, and he seems to just genuinely love to play football.
Round 3, Pick 106: DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (Villanova)
Ah, we meet at last. Tanoh Kpassagnon (Tawn-oh pass-N-yo) is a sight to see, so, behold:
Look at Tanoh Kpassagnon's arm length relative to his waist. He's going to be a weigh in star. pic.twitter.com/BvuCCbBkL4— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) January 15, 2017
Is this a reach at this point in the draft? Perhaps, but do you want me to draft an edge rusher or not? I’m steering this thing, so we’re picking up Mr. Kpassagnon.
Round 4, Pick 128: DT Tanzel Smart (Tulane)
Let’s break this pick explanation up into two parts:
Part one, before the clock expired: Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Tanzel Smart until I was on the clock. With a couple of minutes staring me in the face and a big dilemma of which direction to go in, I did what I do best: Google’d the ever-loving-hell out of his name.
Twice a first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection in 2015 and 2016, Smart is a bit of an undersized three-technique, but that’s okay because we just drafted a guy who is 6-foot-7.
Part two, after I got to watch some tape: In all reality, Smart seems like the right kind of player to pair with A’Shawn Robinson. No pun intended, but Smart makes up for his relative lack of athleticism by relying on his instincts and making the right play. He’s quick, disruptive, plays low and shoots though gaps to get into the backfield and make plays—in 2016, Smart had 18.5 TFL and 5.5 sacks.
Round 5, Pick 165: TE Michael Roberts (Toledo)
Roberts probably won’t be available at this point in the draft, so let me preface this by saying if he’s on the board for when the Lions are picking in the fourth round, he should be taken then and there. He showed up and showed out during the week for the East-West Shrine Game, and from there his stock has only gone up.
Catch just now for Toledo TE Michael Roberts at the East West Shrine Game. Showing some versatility coming out of the backfield. pic.twitter.com/9g8D79Vhtf— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) January 21, 2017
Tight end—a more in-line, traditional one—should be high on the Lions’ list of priorities. Roberts makes catches and blocks well, so this is a match made in mid-to-late round heaven should the Lions have the chance to select him.
Round 6, Pick 215: S Tedric Thompson (Colorado)
Safety is a position that could be tended to even earlier in the draft, but with the way things played out, this is where I was able to get around to it. Glover Quin is on the last year of his deal, and at 31 years old, his replacement isn’t currently rostered.
Thompson is a a good cover safety who had 10 interceptions in his four years at Colorado. He isn’t a safety who will play up in the box, and he isn’t a tackler who will leave a mark, but as a former high school wide receiver, Thompson has the hands to make plays on defense.
Round 7, Pick 250: WR Jamari Staples (Louisville)
This pick was a flyer. It’s a position where the Lions will probably address in free agency, or could be solved if Anquan Boldin gives them the word that he wants another year. Staples could come in as a camp tryout, much like Jay Lee last year, and give the Lions a good look at an outside threat. Standing at 6-foot-3 and only 190 lbs., Staples dealt with nagging injuries during his time at Louisville, but he’s a player who could catch some eyes at the combine with his athleticism, and entice a team into taking someone they could develop.