On Tuesday, it was my turn to step up as acting general manager for the Detroit Lions in SB Nation’s two round mock draft. After a week or two of anticipation, the board fell in a way I was not at all expecting. The five picks leading up to No. 21 were all offensive playmakers, leaving a surplus of defensive talent at my disposal. Here’s a look at the previous picks:
1. Cleveland Browns - DE Myles Garrett
2. San Francisco 49ers - S Malik Hooker
3. Chicago Bears - QB Deshaun Watson
4. Jacksonville Jaguars - DL - Solomon Thomas
5. Tennessee Titans- CB Marshon Lattimore
6. New York Jets - S Jamal Adams
7. Los Angeles Chargers - DL - Malik McDowell
8. Carolina Panthers - TE OJ Howard
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
10. Buffalo Bills - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
11. New Orleans Saints - Derek Barnett, EDGE, University of Tennessee
12. Cleveland Browns - Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
13. Arizona Cardinals - Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech
14. Philadelphia Eagles - Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
15. Indianapolis Colts - Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
16. Baltimore Ravens - Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
17. Washington Redskins - Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
18. Tennessee Titans - John Ross, WR, Washington
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - David Njoku, TE, Miami
20. Denver Broncos - Christian McCaffrey, RB/WR. Stanford
Shocked at my good fortune, I suddenly became a little panicked. I was now out of excuses. If I made the wrong pick, I couldn’t blame the picks before me or the inability to trade up to grab my guy. For most Lions fans, “their guy” was sitting there at 21, whether it was Taco Charlton, Haason Reddick, Takkarist McKinley, Zach Cunningham, Jabrill Peppers, Obi Melifonwu.
Of course, with this bounty staring me down, all I could think about was trading down, which sadly isn’t allowed in the SB Nation mock draft. So I had a decision to make, and it was essentially just down to Charlton vs. Reddick.
This is a tough conundrum for me, because experts can’t seem to agree on either prospect. Back in January there was a lot of hype surround Taco, suggesting that he could, and will, go in the top 10. For whatever reason, that talk has cooled down and there are some that think he’ll fall out of the first round completely.
For Reddick, the opposite seems true. Now there is a growing consensus that he won’t be there for the Lions at 21. In fact, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein had Reddick going fifth overall in his latest mock draft.
I, personally, view the prospects as very similar in value and talent. Charlton seems like a perfect fit in Detroit. He has all of the skills required for a closed end, which the Lions desperately need opposite Ezekiel Ansah. He’s a great run defender, he uses his hands extremely well, and he can even kick inside on occasional downs to bring the heat from the middle.
Reddick, though, obviously fills a more pressing need, and there are no glaring flaws in his game. He’s a solid tackler, decent in coverage and his athleticism scores are off the charts:
But what tipped the scales for me is simply the playmaking ability. I think Lions fans are getting a little overhyped on Reddick simply because of Detroit’s pressing need for a linebacker. While it’s important to consider need, the NFL Draft is all about long-term planning. The Lions’ needs for the 2017 season alone should not be the main priority, and, in my opinion, Charlton’s playmaking ability (10.0 sacks, 13.5 TFLs in 2016) trumps everything. Although Reddick’s stats are just as impressive (9.5 sacks, 22.5 TFLs), as a 4-3 linebacker, his role will be severely different than it was in college. He would likely be asked to help improve Detroit’s horrendous coverage skills at the second level. That’ll be a big help, but it won’t change the game like Charlton could.
In 2014, we saw Teryl Austin’s defense at it’s best. The Lions’ defense was defined by a suffocating defensive line who not only got to the quarterback, but excelled at stopping the run. Charlton is a guy who can help Detroit take another step in that direction after adding A’Shawn Robinson last year. We know Bob Quinn is a firm believer that the building blocks of any successful team is line play, and that’s why I’m taking Charlton over Reddick.
Who would you have picked in this mock draft?
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