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2017 Lions mock draft roundup: Linebackers, defensive ends dominate final mocks

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Over the past year, we’ve tracked over 500 mock drafts to give you the best idea of who the Lions should take.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

We here at Pride Of Detroit pride ourselves on being a bit crazy. Back in May, I decided to run a sort of experiment regarding the 2017 NFL draft. I would track every mock draft I could find and chart the results over time, to see if I could find trends and to see if mock drafts have any real world correlation to actual draft results and the perception of them. Since May, we’ve recorded over 500 mock drafts for the Detroit Lions and the results were interesting, both in the overall volume and the way it progressed over time.

By Position

2017 Mock Drafts By Position

Positions Count 508 Dif Percentage
Positions Count 508 Dif Percentage
DE 173 11 34.06%
LB 100 8 19.69%
CB 88 12 17.32%
DL 49 7 9.65%
RB 42 5 8.27%
WR 24 5 4.72%
TE 12 2 2.36%
SS 9 3 1.77%
OT 7 2 1.38%
FS 2 2 0.39%
OG 2 1 0.39%
QB 0 0 0.00%
OC 0 0 0.00%
OL 0 0 0.00%

In the preseason, it was running backs that dominated Lions mock drafts. Once the season started, mock drafts started to shift to reflect how the Lions were performing. Ezekiel Ansah goes down injured, there’s a spike of defensive end mocks. Lions posting historically awful passing defense, hence a spike of corners. This continued as the year went on, so let’s take a look at those trends. For this, I broke up the mocks into four sets: preseason, in-season, pre-combine, and post-combine. It’s pretty self explanatory, so here’s how that looks:

Mocks by position over time

Position Preseason InSeason PreCombine PostCombine
Position Preseason InSeason PreCombine PostCombine
DE 3 32 62 76
LB 2 17 20 61
CB 2 38 33 15
DL 3 24 15 7
RB 6 19 9 8
WR 2 12 2 8
TE 0 0 4 8
SS 0 4 0 5
OT 0 2 5 0
FS 0 0 1 1
OG 0 0 1 1
QB 0 0 0 0
OC 0 0 0 0
OL 0 0 0 0

As the Lions awful pass defense remained an issue, mock drafters continued to give the team what they needed: stronger pass rush and coverage. When the NFL Combine finished, people started to realize just how badly the Lions needed someone to shore up their linebacking corps, and mocks shot up with players like Reuben Foster, Haason Reddick, and Jarrad Davis. Which brings us to who has actually been mocked to the Lions.

Mocks by Player

Player Name Position Count 508
Player Name Position Count 508
Taco Charlton DE 62
Haason Reddick LB 36
Charles Harris DE 26
Malik McDowell DL 22
Teez Tabor CB 18
Jarrad Davis LB 18
Derek Barnett DE 18
Solomon Thomas DE 17
Takkarist McKinley DE 17
Sidney Jones CB 15
Christian McCaffrey RB 15
Dalvin Cook RB 15
Zach Cunningham LB 15
Caleb Brantley DL 14
Reuben Foster LB 14
Desmond King CB 13
Gareon Conley CB 10
Corey Davis WR 9
Dawuane Smoot DE 9
Carl Lawson DE 9
Marlon Humphrey CB 9
Leonard Fournette RB 8
Tim Williams LB 8
David Njoku TE 8
Raekwon McMillan LB 7
Quincy Wilson CB 6
Mike Williams WR 6
Jabrill Peppers SS 6
T.J. Watt DE 6
JuJu Smith-Schuster WR 5
Adoree' Jackson CB 5
Marshon Lattimore CB 4
Ryan Ramczyk OT 4
Tre'Davious White CB 4
Jonathan Allen DL 4
O.J. Howard TE 4
Obi Melifonwu SS 4
Demarcus Walker DE 3
Cam Robinson OT 3
John Ross WR 3
Jordan Willis DE 3
Jamal Adams SS 2
Jourdan Lewis CB 2
Ryan Anderson LB 2
D'Onta Foreman RB 2
Lowell Lotuleilei DL 2
Charles Walker DL 2
Alvin Kamara RB 2
Forrest Lamp OG 2
Tyus Bowser LB 2
Eddie Jackson FS 1
Justin Evans FS 1
Jordan Thomas CB 1
Jaleel Johnson DL 1
Chris Wormley DL 1
Kevin King CB 1
Lewis Neal DE 1
Malachi Dupre WR 1

Taco Charlton dominated the mock draft scene for the Lions both before and after the combine. It’s worth noting that over the past couple weeks leading up to the draft, he’s been seriously challenged by both Haason Reddick and Jarrad Davis. Taco has also seen a significant drop off in perceived draft value, falling out of the first round altogether for some, while Reuben Foster went from obvious top 5 pick to falling right into the Lions’ range at 21 due to injuries and character concerns. Here’s how this all looks over time:

Mocks by players over time

Player Name Position Preseason InSeason PreCombine PostCombine
Player Name Position Preseason InSeason PreCombine PostCombine
Taco Charlton DE 0 5 22 35
Haason Reddick LB 0 0 6 30
Charles Harris DE 0 6 5 15
Malik McDowell DL 0 7 10 5
Teez Tabor CB 2 6 7 3
Jarrad Davis LB 0 5 3 10
Derek Barnett DE 0 2 7 9
Solomon Thomas DE 0 10 7 0
Takkarist McKinley DE 0 1 9 7
Sidney Jones CB 0 9 6 0
Christian McCaffrey RB 0 9 2 4
Dalvin Cook RB 1 7 5 2
Zach Cunningham LB 0 2 6 7
Caleb Brantley DL 0 10 2 2
Reuben Foster LB 1 3 2 8
Desmond King CB 0 10 3 0
Gareon Conley CB 0 2 3 5
Corey Davis WR 0 6 1 2
Dawuane Smoot DE 0 4 5 0
Carl Lawson DE 2 4 2 1
Marlon Humphrey CB 0 1 5 3
Leonard Fournette RB 5 1 1 1
Tim Williams LB 0 0 7 1
David Njoku TE 0 0 2 6
Raekwon McMillan LB 1 6 0 0
Quincy Wilson CB 0 1 5 0
Mike Williams WR 1 1 0 4
Jabrill Peppers SS 0 0 0 6
T.J. Watt DE 0 0 0 6
JuJu Smith-Schuster WR 0 5 0 0
Adoree' Jackson CB 0 2 2 1
Marshon Lattimore CB 0 2 2 0
Ryan Ramczyk OT 0 2 2 0
Tre'Davious White CB 0 2 0 2
Jonathan Allen DL 3 1 0 0
O.J. Howard TE 0 0 2 2
Obi Melifonwu SS 0 0 1 3
Demarcus Walker DE 0 2 1 0
Cam Robinson OT 0 0 3 0
John Ross WR 0 0 1 2
Jordan Willis DE 0 0 0 3
Jamal Adams SS 0 2 0 0
Jourdan Lewis CB 0 2 0 0
Ryan Anderson LB 0 2 0 0
D'Onta Foreman RB 0 2 0 0
Lowell Lotuleilei DL 0 2 0 0
Charles Walker DL 0 1 1 0
Alvin Kamara RB 0 0 1 1
Forrest Lamp OG 0 0 1 1
Tyus Bowser LB 0 0 0 2
Eddie Jackson FS 0 1 0 0
Justin Evans FS 0 1 0 0
Jordan Thomas CB 0 1 0 0
Jaleel Johnson DL 0 0 1 0
Chris Wormley DL 0 0 1 0
Kevin King CB 0 0 0 1
Lewis Neal DE 1 0 0 0
Malachi Dupre WR 1 0 0 0

The way mocks have trended has been a bit of a roller coaster this season. We’ve seen it flip from RB and WR to DE and DT to CB and back around to LB and DE. It seems to be settling in to some combination of linebacker or defensive end as we near the draft, so if public perception is correct that is likely where the Lions focus their efforts in the first round. Last season’s top two most mocked players were Taylor Decker and A’Shawn Robinson, but I’m doubtful the Lions end up with a Taco Charlton/Haason Reddick combo the way this draft is shaping up. Still, we’ve seen stranger things in the draft and the only people who know how the teams are thinking are the teams themselves. All we can do is obsessively track these things and hope there is some secret hidden in the data.