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2018 NFL mock draft: Freep goes EDGE early for the Lions

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The Lions land one of the better pass rushers in the Detroit Free Press’ first mock of the season.

Virginia Tech v Boston College Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

The Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett released his first mock draft of the season, and his pick for the Detroit Lions is a pretty common one. Birkett has the Lions selecting Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry with the 20th overall pick.

Landry has been one of the most popular choices for the Lions from the beginning of mock season. He was the choice in Kent Lee Platte’s unique Consensus Mock Draft 1.0 back in January, he was the fifth-most popular pick for Detroit back in December, and earlier this week, MMQB’s Albert Breer made an identical pick in his second mock draft of the season.

Of course, just because the choice is popular doesn’t means Birkett’s pick isn’t without merit. After all, in the past two drafts the Lions have ended up selecting players that many believed they were going to select. Birkett offers sound reasoning for the pick. “Landry was a dominant rusher as a junior, and he’d have an easy transition in Detroit playing for his old coach, Paul Pasqualoni,” Birkett writes.

That’s a very important point to make. New Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni worked as the defensive line coach for Landry’s final two years at Boston College. However, it’s also important to note that the Lions have coaches on staff that have worked directly with some of the other best college prospects in this year’s draft. For example, defensive line coach Bo Davis mentored defensive end Marcus Davenport at UTSA—and briefly with Da’Ron Payne and Da’Shawn Hand at Alabama.

Birkett passed over several running back prospects to select Landry, but most of the other common defensive line picks were gone by the time the Lions were on the clock. Da’Ron Payne went 12 to the Bengals, Vita Vea went 16 to the Ravens, Marcus Davenport went 18 to the Seahawks, and Maurice Hurst went 19 to the Cowboys.

As for the prospect of Landry landing in Detroit, it would add some much-needed pass rushing ability with the versatility of being in a 3-4 or 4-3 system. Here’ what Platte wrote about Landry earlier in the week, regarding his superb athleticism:

Upon reviewing his 2016 tape, however, it’s very clear that Landry has the athletic tools to be successful in the NFL with speed, explosiveness, and an inconsistent but incredibly impressive bend on the edge that makes a pass rusher prized by NFL clubs.

Harold’s draft stock took a hit in 2017, as he struggled to look quite as flashy while fighting through injuries, but with an impressive NFL Combine performance, he may be able to make up some of the respect he may have lost last year.

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