In the first round of our Pride of Detroit Community Mock, the Detroit Lions selected Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan. Alex Reno, the acting general manager of the Lions, earned a B- grade for the pick with many fans preferring Detroit either go offensive line, running back or another player like Maurice Hurst at 20 overall.
But now it’s Reno’s job to make amends in the second round. With the board falling somewhat unfavorably in the second round, Reno had a tough call. However, he made his choice.
With the 51st overall pick in the Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft, the Detroit Lions have selected USC running back Ronald Jones II. Here’s Reno with why he made the pick:
As is the case for any draft spot, there were plenty of players that I would have hoped would be available at this spot: Nick Chubb, Frank Ragnow, James Daniels, Will Hernandez or Billy Price, for example. And with the run on offensive linemen, it was hard to find value here in the offensive trenches and find someone to compete for the starting left guard spot. Austin Corbett comes to mind as a viable option here, but I felt that there were better players available at other positions of need.
Rutgers edge rusher, Kemoko Turay, was also an option if I wanted to double down on defense and add an extra DE/OLB with pass rushing ability, which our own Andrew Kato labeled as a top-three Lions need on defense.
In the end, this pick was an easy decision for me. I felt there was one player available that stood out in terms of talent and also fit a major need: USC running back, Ronald Jones II.
Jones is my fourth-ranked RB in this class, and is a great fit for the Lions. Despite his thin-frame, RoJo welcomes contact and averaged 3.5 yards per carry after contact last year, gaining 743 yards after first contact and breaking 50 tackles on 212 carries via Pro Football Focus’ draft guide.
RoJo is an electric back with the ability to turn any run into a massive gain, but he’s also an extremely efficient runner that will lower his pads and fight for what’s there, rather than dancing around and always looking for the big play. He improved every year as a pass protector and although he hasn’t shown much in the receiving game (only 32 receptions in three years), some of that can be attributed to USC’s offensive scheme and gameplan—there wasn’t a single RB on their roster that caught 20 or more passes in one season during the time RoJo spent with the Trojans.
With the Lions, RoJo doesn’t have to be a workhorse back right away. He can get his 15-20 touches a game as a rookie and still make a huge impact for the offense splitting carries with LeGarrette Blount and getting some touches in the passing game as well. RoJo turns 21 years old in August and would be a fantastic addition to the offense, giving them a long-term option and a game changer at the RB position.
To see the rest of the picks in the POD Community Mock, check out our picks tracker.
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