After the frenzy that was free agency, we’re in the full swing of mock draft season, and the guy who started it all, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., just released his latest iteration for 2018—“Mock Draft 3.0.” (ESPN Insider required).
In a shocking turn of events, Kiper’s selection for the Lions at No. 20 didn’t bend to the recently imposed narrative of replacing the now departed Eric Ebron. Instead, Kiper was able to address an area of need for the Lions with a player whose name has generated relatively little buzz thus far: Taven Bryan, interior defensive lineman from the University of Florida. Here’s why he made this pick for Detroit:
“This pick is all about projection, as Bryan is a freakish talent who didn’t produce to his ability at Florida; he had only 5.5 career sacks. But there were games (turn on the Texas A&M tape from 2017) in which he looked like a top-10 pick. He would play 3-technique for the Lions and new coach Matt Patricia. Bryan is raw, but he could be a star given time (and coaching) to develop. Linebacker and cornerback should be options for Detroit here, and running back shouldn’t be out of the question.”
The Lions are desperately in need of a 3-technique pass rusher to pair with their run-stuffing defensive linemen A’Shawn Robinson and Sylvester Williams, and Bryan fits the bill. Kiper mentions his lack of statistical production while at Florida—just 5.5 sacks in his three-year career—but his potential to be great is something tangible given his incredible athletic ability. Take a look at his RAS score—both as a DT and a DE—courtesy of our own Kent Lee Platte:
Bryan’s versatility in his ability to play both inside and out will certainly be an alluring attribute to the team of Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia when the Lions are on the clock at No. 20—Quinn was also at Florida’s pro day.
In Kiper’s last mock draft, the Lions went with LSU running back Derrius Guice, who is curiously absent from Kiper’s most recent mock draft. This isn’t the first time the player Kiper had slotted to the Lions didn’t make an appearance in the first round of his next mock draft—his “Mock Draft 1.0” article had Detroit selecting defensive end Sam Hubbard from Ohio State—who was also absent when the Lions took Guice in his “Mock Draft 2.0” article.
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