What’s better than a mock draft? Two mock drafts, of course.
On Wednesday, ESPN dropped their dueling mock drafts, in which draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay each did a two-round mock for all 32 teams. Both went in very different directions for the Detroit Lions, which makes sense considering just how many choices the Lions are likely to have on draft weekend.
Here’s a look at each of their hauls:
Mel Kiper’s Lions mock:
Round 1: DE Montez Sweat — Mississippi
Round 2: CB Justin Layne — Michigan State
Despite the current trend of the Lions going a little more offensive-heavy in more recent mock drafts, Kiper goes the other route, targeting defense with both of Detroit’s first two picks.
Montez Sweat has been a very popular choice for the Lions ever since the defensive end destroyed the NFL Combine. While Detroit’s need for an edge player is not as pressing after adding Trey Flowers in free agency, Sweat has the kind of positional versatility to play all over Detroit’s complicated defensive front. He would make an already strong defensive line even stronger.
In the second round, Kiper fixes Detroit’s long-term issue at outside cornerback with local prospect Justin Layne. In our own mock draft from February, Alex Reno took Layne in the third round, saying of the Spartan, “He’s the physical type that loves to get his hands on you and disrupts routes early.”
That’s exactly the kind of corner that Matt Patricia prefers, and it’s easy to see Layne making an immediate impact for the Lions, even in his rookie year.
However, Kiper’s mock fails to address some of the Lions’ more pressing needs at the moment. Detroit doesn’t fix their gaping hole at right guard with Kiper’s first two selections, and Detroit’s shaky depth at tight end also goes unaddressed.
Todd McShay’s Lions mock:
Round 1: TE T.J. Hockenson — Iowa
Round 2: DE Jaylon Ferguson — Louisiana Tech
McShay addresses one of those big needs with the ever-unpopular first-round pick of tight end T.J. Hockenson. Lions fans are weary to pull the trigger on a top-10 tight end after the Eric Ebron fiasco, but Hockenson presents a nice balance of both receiving threat and blocking skills. However, you could argue that Hockenson isn’t elite at either talent.
In the second round, McShay addresses what he seems to believe is still a pressing need for the Lions.
“The Lions didn’t get an edge rusher in Round 1, so I’ll give them this highly productive defensive end -- he had 45 sacks in his career -- to chase quarterbacks,” McShay wrote to justify his pick.
Personally, I don’t like this pick at all. Ferguson was an early favorite of mine, but after getting his shot to play with the big boys at the Senior Bowl, I was left a little uninspired. Ferguson in the second round seems a bit too high for a risky, small-school prospect, and it doesn’t even address one of Detroit’s bigger needs.
Instead, I would’ve liked to see McShay seek out an offensive lineman, cornerback or even a wide receiver. Michigan corner David Long, Ohio State receiver Parris Campbell or Layne were all available in McShay’s mock and would have been more valuable picks.
To me, this isn’t particularly close. I like Kiper’s mock a lot better. I am far from against grabbing a tight end in the first round, but McShay’s mock just seems like bad value all around. Detroit gets a tight end that may struggle in his first year in Hockenson, then drafts Ferguson, who will probably be a low-rotation guy in his first year. For a team that is making moves to get better immediately, McShay’s approach looks extremely misguided.
Compare that with Kiper, who gets Detroit an immediate contributor on the defensive line in Sweat, then follows it up with Layne, who could very well start opposite Darius Slay in Week 1. That’s the kind of draft a defensive coach like Matt Patricia would dream of. Obviously, it leaves the Lions a little weaker on the offensive side of the ball, but you can’t fix everything with two draft picks. Ideally, the Lions would pick up a contributor in the third round of Kiper’s mock, and Detroit would actually come out with a pretty impressive haul.
Who had the better two-round Lions mock?
This poll is closed
Kiper: Montez Sweat, Justin Layne
McShay: T.J. Hockenson, Jaylon Ferguson