The Detroit Lions are entering the 2018 NFL Draft with a pretty large amount of needs. None of them are absolutely pressing, but most of them need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Running back is a perfect example. The Lions could probably get by without drafting one this year, but the longer they wait to fill that need, the tougher it’s going to get to actually do it. The same could be said for edge rushers, offensive guard and defensive tackle, among others.
All that is to say that there are a lot of different routes the Lions could take in the upcoming draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay highlighted that fact when they published their two-round dueling mocks on Wednesday (ESPN Insider required). Let’s start with Mel Kiper’s choices:
Mel Kiper Jr. two-round Lions mock:
- Round 1: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
- Round 2: Billy Price, OC/G, Ohio State
Kiper sticks with his selection of Taven Bryan—the same pick Kiper made in his one-round mock draft last week. Bryan could come in immediately and bolster the Lions’ pass rush from the inside. Though Bryan’s production at Florida was limited (just 62 total tackles in three years and 5.5 sacks), he’s a versatile guy who’s still very much developing into a much better player.
In the second round, Kiper shores up the Lions’ interior offensive line with one of the best offensive line prospects in the draft. Billy Price was a two-time All-American at Ohio State and was given the Rimington Trophy last year as the nation’s best center in 2017. Price was expected to show off his superb athleticism at last month’s NFL Combine, but he suffered a pectoral injury that isn’t considered all that serious. It was described as “an incomplete tear” and Price believes he will be ready by the start of the 2018 season.
If healthy enough, Price would come in and assume either the starting guard or center position. The Lions added some depth there in the offseason with Kenny Wiggins and Wesley Johnson, but both are better served as backup plans than starters.
Todd McShay two-round mock:
- Round 1: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
- Round 2: Arden Key, DE, LSU
McShay throws a fairly new name out there for the Lions’ first pick. Sony Michel has been a fairly polarizing running back prospect this draft season. Some believe he could fall all the way to the third round. Others, obviously, believe he’s a first-round talent. It’s understandable to see the disconnect here. Michel spent the majority of his career at Georgia trying to get out from Nick Chubb’s shadow.
Michel is a much different runner than Chubb, preferring to outrun defenders over blowing through them. As that change-of-pace back at Georgia, Michel wildly thrived. He never finished a season below 5.3 yards per carry and in his senior year he averaged 7.9 yards per carry with 16 rushing touchdowns to boot.
In the second round, McShay went edge, and he got another polarizing player in the draft. While Arden Key has, at times, looked explosive and dangerous, his struggles with weight and conditioning—combined with some injuries—have led to inconsistent play and worries about his commitment.
At the NFL Combine, Key showed up lighter, but he declined to run the 40-yard dash, and his other workout scores were just mediocre (he apparently ran a 4.85 40 at his Pro Day, which is not a great time for him). Still, his college production is eye-popping. In 2016, Arden tallied 55 tackles, 12.5 TFLs and 11.0 sacks, including two forced fumbles. In three years, he managed to rack up 20.0 total sacks and 24.5 TFLs.
Both Kiper’s and McShay’s drafts make logical sense for the Lions, even though the two don’t share a position among their picks. All four of these players could theoretically help the Lions at positions of need. Their selections just highlight how unpredictable this year’s draft seems to be and how many directions the Lions could go in.
Which mock do you prefer?
Which mock draft do you prefer?
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Kiper’s: Taven Bryan, Billy Price
McShay’s: Sony Michel, Arden Key