With just over two and a half weeks until the 2018 NFL Draft, the mock drafts are coming fast and furious.
Last Friday, Pride of Detroit published version 1.0 of my mock draft. In terms of the positions I planned on targeting, it didn’t exactly turn out the way I had intended from the start, with me choosing a running back and an offensive lineman in the second and third round. While adding an interior offensive lineman and a running back are certainly needs for this team, Detroit has other pressing issues on the defensive side of the ball where there isn’t nearly as much depth in the draft as the previously mentioned positions.
However, some draft experts aren’t as worried about the Lions shoring up those defensive positions with early draft picks, including Dane Brugler, senior draft scout for the aptly titled NFLDraftScout.com.
Brugler recently released a three-round mock draft where Detroit found another running back to add to their backfield and a tight end to replace the production—and athleticism—of Eric Ebron.
With their first pick, Brugler slots defensive tackle Taven Bryan from the Florida Gators to the Lions. Bob Quinn has spent the last two seasons trying to find a three-tech defensive tackle to bring some consistent pressure, and Bryan figures to be one of the best available in this year’s draft:
Detroit needs reinforcements on the defensive line to provide more of a pass rush and Bryan is a candidate to do that. With his athleticism and strength, the former Gator is one of the best three-technique tackles in this draft.
Taven Bryan's path to the NFL draft - as told by his total QB pressures pic.twitter.com/4ZAfcD8Y0z— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 3, 2018
For Detroit’s next two selections, Brugler nabbed a running back—Georgia’s Sony Michel—and a tight end—Penn State’s Mike Gesicki.
“The Lions are going to draft a running back in the early rounds,” says Brugler, echoing the sentiments of many other draftniks. “Michel outside the top-50 is excellent value.”
Our own Alex Reno wrote about the prospect of the Lions adding Michel, noting that he wouldn’t be “disappointed in the slightest if Bob Quinn were to draft him on Day 2.” However, drafting Michel may not be such a popular pick amongst Lions fans, or Alex Reno himself considering his teammate and fellow running back, Nick Chubb, was still available when the Lions were picking at No. 51—Reno has gone on the record explaining his affinity for Chubb, even calling him his “No. 3 ranked running back in this year’s class.”
Along with Chubb, other running backs still on the board were San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson, and North Carolina State’s Nyheim Hines.
With Detroit’s third-round pick, Brugler selected Penn State’s athletic tight end Mike Gesicki, who some view as the top tight end prospect in the NFL Draft, and whose NFL.com draft profile makes him sound like a certain tight end that just left town:
If you are looking for a tight end who can line up and help in the running game, he’s not your guy. However, if you want a pass-catcher who can get open and has the ball skills to win against linebackers and safeties, he might be your guy. Gesicki needs to improve his play strength and his issues as a blocker could limit the amount of teams who will target him, but he has a chance to become one of the better pass catching tight ends in the league.
His athleticism makes him a rare talent as outlined by his measurables—Gesicki turned in athletic scores at the NFL Scouting Combine that ranked him third out of 678 tight ends since 1987, but taking a tight end at this spot in the draft may be a tough pill for some to swallow with some of the other talent still on the board. Among those still on Brugler’s board at the No. 83 pick include Arkansas’ interior offensive lineman Frank Ragnow, North Carolina State’s defensive tackle B.J. Hill, and LSU’s edge rusher Arden Key.