It's Draft Week around the NFL. Teams have finalized their boards, the prospects have their travel itineraries if they're attending the drafts, and, if not, they've already packed their houses with snacks and drinks for their families to enjoy while waiting for their name to be called. It's an exciting time for the team, the players, and for fans who want to know what their team may look like this coming season. For us, it means final mock draft time, so here we go.
Pick 8: Brian Burns, DE/LB Florida State
I've went around and around with this pick. Except for extreme situations where one of Josh Allen or Quinnen Williams fall, it's been a tough call between players like Burns, Montez Sweat, Ed Oliver, and others. In this case, the dream scenarios didn't happen so I had the same type of choice once again.
In comparing athletic traits this week, I found one of the cleanest comps you'll ever find between two prospects in Brian Burns and Danielle Hunter. They were similar to an every degree in every metric that both measured in, and I think their ceilings are the same. Burns comes pre-packaged with a dynamic pass rushing skillset, something Hunter lacked when entering the NFL, so his initial impact may be even larger, especially in a defense like Matt Patricia's that can take advantage of his ability to move around.
Pick 43: Deebo Samuel. WR, South Carolina
A few weeks back, Deebo Samuel was referred to as "an assassin from the slot" and it's stuck with me. It's hard to find many terms more encapsulating of a player's talents than that, and his immediate impact could be a rookie Pro Bowl in this scheme, he fits that well. I had considered Chris Lindstrom in this spot as he was once again available, but I've taken the Boston College guard so often I wanted to provide a little bit of flavor with this pick. I think that a receiver like Deebo Samuel can provide similar rookie impact.
Pick 88, Sione Takitaki, LB, BYU
Everyone is looking for the big Bob Quinn surprise small-school pick here, and while BYU isn't a small school, this pick still fits the mold. I have, admittedly, been stanning for Takitaki for months, so anyone who follows me on social media probably saw this coming from a mile away.
While Takitaki has some red flags in his past, his story is one of the most interesting of the class. After being dismissed after several off-field concerns from BYU, he was accepted back to the team after he was married and not only cleaned up his act but became a team leader upon his return.
His play isn't flawless, he relies a bit too much on his elite athletic profile rather than technique, but he has the highest ceiling of any LB in this class. I think if he is given the time and attention he needs to clean up his technique, his devotion to improving his craft could see him as a Bobby Wagner type of interior presence in this defense.
Pick 111: Kingsley Keke, DL, Texas A&M
I've been stating for some time that Keke is a guy who can sneak into that late Day 2 talk, so seeing him still on the board here felt like a coup. He is a reasonably polished player with a ton of athletic potential with the versatility to line up along the line. All of those are traits this coaching staff coaching staff covets, so I think he's going to be one they consider strongly here.
Pick 146: Foster Moreau, TE, LSU
Foster Moreau may have the highest ceiling of this class. He's starting from a much lower floor than T.J. Hockenson or Noah Fant, and he doesn't have the route tree of Jace Sternberger or Caleb Wilson, but Moreau can contribute as a blocker from day one and gives you the elite athletic potential to be a playmaker down the road when he develops. We talk about Hockenson as if he's George Kittle for the obvious reasons, but Moreau may be even closer since he's not likely to he an early pick but has the same level of potential.
Pick 184: Ka'dar Hollman, CB, Toledo
With so many prospects from Michigan, Michigan State, and even Central Michigan getting the big media push, the Lions go a different direction in terms of picking a local cornerback prospect by taking Ka'dar Hollman late. Like former Toledo tight end Michael Roberts, the team spent time with Hollman at his Pro Day, and while he's not likely to be ready to start from the jump, he has the potential to be a complementary piece in a defensive backfield in relatively short order. I would expect Hollman to edge out Teez Tabor and other bottom roster corners in training camp to steal a roster spot, but he's enough of an unknown that he probably clears waivers if he's not able to impress immediately and needs a year on the practice squad.
Pick 204: Alex Bars, OG, Notre Dame
Alex Bars has dealt with multiple injuries in his Notre Dame career, missing some time and putting his NFL projection in a bit of a difficult range. His tape, on the other hand, can be very good, and if it weren’t for all the lost time, we would probably be talking about Bars as a starting caliber guard at the NFL level a lot louder. As it is, it’s a risky pick even this late, but it’s one that I can say with confidence has enough upside to justify a late-round selection. Bars has starter potential if he can stay healthy.
Pick 224: Josiah Tauaefa, LB, UTSA
When it comes to linebackers, you tend to want the fast movers and explosive playmakers. Sometimes you just want a guy who’s going to do his job and maintain his assignment. Those guys tend to get the label “faster playing speed than timed speed” or “instinctive.” Tauaefa falls into that category as he doesn’t look, nor did he measure out, as a top =0tier athlete, but his play speed is acceptable. Tauaefa would make the squad based on special teams play at first, and while I don’t think he’s going to be an every year Pro Bowler, I think he has Josh Bynes, long-term starter potential.
Pick 229: Keelan Doss, WR, Cal-Davis
If I had to pick a single player in this mock draft that is going either far too early or far too late, it would be this pick. Keelan Doss is similar to Kenny Golladay in that he’s being pursued by multiple teams who are trying to keep their interest on the down low. Like Golladay, it’s possible Doss even sneaks into Day 2 of the draft.
With a more impressive athletic profile than many expected, Doss has seen his name seemingly mentioned by every team’s beat and is a popular pick from the beginning to the end of Day 3. When I saw him still on the board, I was shocked that he wasn’t taken earlier, and I could see him being selected in any of the previous five picks. Doss would immediately improve the receiving depth, and I have faith he would make the final roster, knowing that he would be unlikely to clear waivers. Year 1, he’s probably depth, but if the team was looking for a developmental player to step into Marvin Jones’ role, taking a guy who projects to Jones as his ceiling is a good bet.
This would see the Lions addressing their pass rush, slot receiver position, linebacker depth, and sets up several other positions for the long term by adding quality depth with developmental potential. Though I made a late hail mary, I wasn’t able to address the right guard position as I had hoped, and while Hollman provides some solid depth and potential for the future, he doesn’t do much in the short term to aid the cornerback spot. It wasn’t the perfect draft, but I think it turned out alright considering how the board fell.
Do you think you can do better? Give us your best seven-round mock draft in the comments, and while you’re at it enter a ballot into our first Pride of Detroit mock draft challenge, instructions here.