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‘Mock Draft 1.0’: Mel Kiper Jr. slots Ohio State DE Sam Hubbard to Lions

For the third straight year, Detroit comes into the draft with a glaring need. Mel Kiper Jr. thinks the Lions address that need with their first-round pick.

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

From yonder, the bells are ringing from the headquarters of the Worldwide Leader in Sports. It’s officially mock draft season, and maybe the most recognizable face in the game has released his first take at the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Not so surprisingly for Mel Kiper Jr., he has the Cleveland Browns selecting a quarterback, Josh Allen, with the first overall pick because “Coaches want to work with the 6-foot-5 Allen because he has all of the tools.”

Drink it in. This is officially the offseason.

While there are a host of teams searching for a signal caller in this draft, and so many available for the taking, the Lions are all set at quarterback with Matthew Stafford. In the first iteration of Kiper’s mock draft series, he took the opportunity to address the Lions need on the defensive side of the ball, and the position most in need of being attended to, with Detroit’s pick at No. 20 in the first round: Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard.

Here’s what Kiper had to say about the Lions’ situation and the rationale for choosing Hubbard:

Ezekiel Ansah had a bounce-back year with 12 sacks, but he’s a free agent. Will the Lions give him a long-term deal? Detroit’s No. 2 sacker was former sixth-round pick Anthony Zettel, who had 6.5, so this is a clear area of need. Hubbard is probably better for team that plays a 4-3 like the Lions. He didn’t have a consistent 2017 season, but he finished strong with 2.5 sacks at Michigan and 2.5 more in the bowl win over USC. Is he Joey Bosa? No, but that’s why Bosa went No. 3 overall. Hubbard would be good value at pick No. 20.

It’s a totally fair point to mention Ansah’s impending free agency, but Detroit’s decision of whether or not to bring him back, no matter the deal, should factor little into deciding where to upgrade. The Lions need an impact player on the defensive line, regardless of where they line up and regardless of what they choose to do in respect to Ansah.

However, it’s also totally fair for readers to assume a confused look when they see that Kiper thinks Detroit should nab Hubbard because he’s “better for team that plays a 4-3 like the Lions.” Detroit, a team currently without both a head coach or a defensive coordinator, probably isn’t using this as part of their rationale at this stage in the draft process.

Hubbard is the pick from Kiper, but there are plenty of names, especially at this point in the draft process, that Lions fans are clamoring for with that first pick. Michigan’s defensive lineman Maurice Hurst, Boston College’s edge rusher Harold Landry, and LSU’s running back Derrius Guice were all still available at No. 20 in Kiper’s mock.

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