The draft season can be exhausting. We here at Pride Of Detroit have already tracked over 450 mock drafts, conducted best and worst case scenarios, and run full round scenarios involving trades and team-by-team projections. Some players have way too many red flags for the picks to make sense, others just don’t fit. It can be maddening, especially when it comes from a national source with very little insight into the team.
In the Navy, a “red flag” refers to Bravo, a red maritime flag that lets other ships know that you are carrying dangerous goods onboard. In the spirit of red flags, and to blow off a little bit of steam, I like to put together a bit of an outlet for all that draft aggression. This culminates in the “Not Mock Draft,” where I pick one player for each round that the Detroit Lions should absolutely NOT draft. The only rule is that it must be a player that’s actually been mocked or somehow linked to the team (at least for the first rounds) and that I must arbitrarily connect that player with some kind of maritime flag, signalling to fans the level of danger or concern with the pick.
1st Round Pick: David Njoku, TE, Miami
Do you like tight ends? I know what you’re thinking, the Detroit Lions just took a tight end in the top ten back in 2014. Now hear me out here, because this tight end is like, super athletic. Sure, he drops more footballs than he probably should, but he has really big hands! He’s a pretty poor blocker, but as I understand it he will put on a few pounds and be much more stout as a run blocker. Besides, he wasn’t as bad as people say in college, he played in the ACC so how bad could he really be? I mean, when he was at UNC... wait a second... I seem to have confused my notes for David Njoku with everyone’s old Eric Ebron scouting reports. Or not. Same thing, really. In all seriousness, there are multiple reports that the Lions love Njoku as a prospect and they totally don’t all link back to Daniel Jeremiah’s original report that was basically just connecting the dots from Al Golden being coach at Miami.
Flag: Hotel, a red and white flag that signals “I have a pilot on board”. In this case, the Lions already have an Eric Ebron and don’t need another one.
Round 2: DeDe Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
So if you pretend neither Golden Tate or Marvin Jones exist, you probably have wide receiver as the top need in the 2017 NFL Draft. Well, there’s some good news out there because one of PFF’s top receivers is still available in the second round! This first round (oft-mocked-there-if-you-only-ever-read-one-specific-site) kinda player is just what the team needs! Westbrook ran a 4.39 at his pro day, so he has plenty of athleticism as long as you ignore his below average height, weight, bench, vertical, shuttle, and 3-cone. He didn’t measure at the combine, so even with the pro day bump he couldn’t get above average. He’s a terrible blocker at receiver, which is a minor knock, but that lack of physicality also shows up whenever a defender so much as grazes him. Or threatens to graze him, never mind tackling. Westbrook is just under six feet tall, but weighed in at only 178 pounds at the combine with short arms and below average hands. The good news is that he only has a couple of domestic violence arrests, so the reports about his poor response to character questions can probably be ignored since he’s already had worse things on public records. He’s overcome a lot, though, having nearly died from a ruptured intestine coming out of high school and sustained multiple injuries over the course of his college career that will in no way combine with his rail thin frame and slender physique to create durability concerns.
Flag: Juliet, a blue and white striped flag that means something along the lines of “I am literally on fire and have explosive cargo on board, you’d have to be an idiot to come near me.”
Round 3: DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State
So there are top tier athletes, there are below average athletes, and there are heavy footed slow movers. I should mention that I really do like DeMarcus Walker and think the Detroit Lions would get a long-time rotational player with good technique and understanding of blocking schemes if they drafted him. They would also get a player who could go toe-to-toe as the slowest player on the team every year. I joked previously that he may be slower than Don Muhlbach, and while he didn’t hit his 5.28, he did hit a pro day 4.88 (pro day times average .1 second faster for DL). Walker had been mocked previously to the Lions in the first round, then the second round when people started questioning his athleticism, and the third when he confirmed how bad of an athlete he was relative to his position. I would love to draft DeMarcus Walker. Just not in the third (or fourth) round.
Flag: Yankee, a diagonally striped yellow and red flag that means “I am dragging anchor.” You’ll be reminded of that flag anytime you watch Walker trying to chase down opposing players.
Round 4: Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
Jake Butt is an above average athlete (though not a comparably great one, especially in this class) who is high character. Prior to 2016, he was considered a favorite to be one of the top two tight ends in this draft class. So why am I featuring him a round lower than his current projected round in an article about who I wouldn’t draft? Well for one, I suspect he falls and quite far. The big knock you hear about Butt is that he suffered a torn ACL late in the season that caused his draft stock to tumble. What is often overlooked is that Butt has had to deal with knee injuries for three consecutive seasons. He tore his ACL and meniscus in 2014 and then had arthroscopic knee surgery in 2015 before tearing his other ACL in 2016. The injury risk with someone with that kind of history is high, and while I think some team is going to get themselves a good value pick in taking Jake Butt in the 2017 draft, it should be in rounds after the first four.
Flag: Whiskey, a red square inside a white square inside a blue square, this flag is used to signal when one requires medical assistance.
Round 5: Nobody
As it turns out, I couldn’t find anyone in the fifth-round range that I’d really be worried about drafting. Thankfully, we have a flag for that.
Flag: Quebec, a flat yellow flag that is used when a vessel has no disease or danger and is requesting permission to be allowed into harbor.
Round 6: Ben Boulware, LB, Clemson
Every season there is an undersized linebacker who wins by grit and determination. A high character player that everyone admits has athletic limitations but somehow they’re convinced they will find a place in the NFL. Last year, that honor went to Scooby Wright. A few years ago it was Zack Follett, who the Lions ended up drafting. In any event, Ben Boulware may be the grittiest, but it was Follett who saw the most success. Before his career was ended by injury, Follett had become a below starter level player who was seeing playing time due to personnel limitations on the Lions, which is the very best you’ll ever get out of someone like this. A replaceable cog you’re going to see in the late rounds the following year.
Flag: Mike, a white X on blue background, it is used when a vessel is simply going nowhere.
Round 7: Chad Kelly, QB, Mississippi
Nephew of the great Jim Kelly, Chad Kelly was receiving first-round hype prior to the 2016 season, though many believed it was mostly his name that drove that narrative. He’s seen a bit of a resurgence every now and again, but it always ends up the same way. Teams go back to his tape and see an erratic player who doesn’t scream easily coachable. They look at his injury history and see someone who has struggled to stay healthy. They look at his character history—his long, difficult character history—and wonder if he’s ever going to grow up. Then they see someone who threatened to show up at the NFL Combine until someone explained to him why he wasn’t invited and realize this kid is going to require a great deal of help. Is his upside worth it? I would argue that it is not.
Flag: Victor is a red X on a white background and is used when you clearly need help.