While I normally start off my first mock of the draft season with, “It’s that time of year,” I think it’s important to note that it’s always kind of that time of year. The draft season never stops, it just cycles over to the next one. For the Detroit Lions, picking at third overall brings back those feelings of inevitability that we used to deal with on the regular. The first couple picks lock in very early and it leaves the Lions with basically one of only a small handful of choices early on.
Since this mock presumes no trades (out of convenience, but if it helps just imagine that nobody likes Bob Quinn), the first pick probably won’t come as much of a shock. Let’s see if we can’t build off of what free agency started. For simplicity sake, I used The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine for this one.
Round 1, Pick 3
Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Nothing amazing here but Okudah shows elite ball skills right here while catching an interception while being on the ground! pic.twitter.com/iJDleNRT7u— ™ (@CFBLive247) February 25, 2020
I have few doubts that the Lions will be trying hard to trade out of this pick. They might already even have a plan in place, as both Ian Rappaport and Adam Schefter both incorrectly presumed the Lions had additional picks early in separate, unrelated incidents on the same day.
Conspiracy theories aside, if the Lions end up forced to stay at three, it’s almost assuredly for Jeffrey Okudah. Yes, if Chase Young makes it to three then he’s an immediate contender for the pick, but I think there’s a better than zero chance that the Lions take Okudah anyway in that spot.
An elite defender with almost no flaws on the field, Okudah easily slides into the same level of prospect as Patrick Peterson or Jalen Ramsey. His football intelligence is off the charts, and he will do more for his draft stock during interviews, tape work, and whiteboard prep than he ever did measuring out as an elite athlete at the Combine. There really wasn’t any other consideration for me here since Young was gone, leaving Okudah on an island. The recent pickups of Jamie Collins and Duron Harmon make Isaiah Simmons extremely unlikely while the signing of Halapoulivaati Vaitai rules out a first-round tackle, even if a trade down occurred.
Round 2, Pick 35
Curtis Weaver, LB/DE, Boise State
I will not rest until Curtis Weaver gets the attention he deserves. The man is WRECKING offensive lines.— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) September 19, 2019
Among CFB edge defenders through Week 3 (per @PFF), Weaver has the:
- Most total pressures
- 4th highest pass-rush grade
- 5th highest pass-rush win rate pic.twitter.com/agLifdbZP7
Weaver picked up 11.0 sacks as a freshman for the Broncos and somehow he got better from there. A dangerous pass rusher with a variety of ways he can win, Weaver would top off his career at Boise State with 13.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for a loss in 2019. He hit 7.0 flat in the 3-cone drill at the Combine and likely would have rated out as an elite RAS athlete had he run his 40.
With the Lions moving on from Devon Kennard, Weaver would start immediately in this defense and likely put up similar, if not improved, production at a position of extreme need. Weaver may end up a late first-round pick, but options were limited with this pick otherwise. There weren’t any guards on the board (Ruiz went just before) and most of the elite wide receivers were already off the board. I had a few interior defensive line options, but with Russell Blacklock going a pick before I felt the best options were gone. I considered Terrell Lewis here, but his injury history is a serious red flag for me.
Round 3, Pick 67
Isaiah Wilson, OT/OG, Georgia
Really nice job on the deuce block by Georgia RT Isaiah Wilson. Steps down hard. Scoops DT. Works to linebacker. pic.twitter.com/Ma89DIEZyP— Brent Sobleski (@brentsobleski) March 10, 2020
I made it a mission to take some combination of corner, pass rusher, linebacker, guard, or receiver with my first three picks if possible. With the first two covered, picking became slim quickly for elite talent. There were no scheme fit linebackers left (Malik Harrison somehow almost lasted to this pick, but went a couple spots before), the best guards (all two of them) were already gone, and the only receivers left were either big but too slow or small and fragile.
So I had to jump outside of the box a bit here and came up with Isaiah Wilson, who would ideally play at right tackle. Wilson is massive, weighing in at 350 pounds at the Combine, but similar to Mekhi Becton (though not the same level of talent), Wilson is incredibly athletic for his size. With Vaitai in the fold and Decker not going anywhere, Wilson would slot in immediately at right guard, starting right away and providing starting level play there. The team loves versatility, and his ability to move outside if needed provides both injury insurance and protects against the possibility that Vaitai busts as a free agent signing.
Round 3, Pick 85
Larrell Murchison, DT, North Carolina State
Sleeper: DT Larrell Murchison (North Carolina State, 6’ 3”, 291 Lbs). Stats: (2 seasons) 38 Solo Tackles, 42 Asst Tackles, 80 Combined Tackles, 20 TFL 11 Sacks, 1 INT, 4 PD & 3 FR. #LarrellMurchison #4EDraft2020 pic.twitter.com/ZxayBtkPQG— 49er_Edits (@49er_edits) January 31, 2020
Murchison doesn’t have the length that Matt Patricia tends to like in his defensive lineman, but he certainly has the explosiveness to be a serious threat as an interior rusher. Bringing a variety of pass rushing moves to the table and coming in with a solid plan to counter his blockers, Murchison notched 7.0 sacks and 12.0 tackles for a loss in 2019.
I was inches away from drafting Chase Claypool, the uber Height/Weight/Speed receiver out of Notre Dame, or Jason Strowbridge from North Carolina (who I like and I know this staff likes), but I went with Murchison as I think he’ll provide the most immediate impact.
Leki Fotu, nose tackle from Utah was also on the board here as well as Charlotte’s Alex Highsmith, but the signing of Danny Shelton and drafting of Curtis Weaver earlier ruled those out for me. This was the toughest pick to make so far as the options were pretty solid, including taking a running back I know the Lions are high on in Zack Moss, but I’m still assuming the team values durability first and foremost for a rusher and Moss lacks that.
Round 4, Pick 109
A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College
Speaking of durability, the Lions eventual running back selection was the massive 247-pound rusher from Boston College who only missed three games over three seasons. Dillon was a superb athlete coming out of high school at over 230 pounds even then, but it was still surprising to see a nearly 250-pound running back hitting a 41-inch vertical and nearly 11 foot broad jump.
Extreme athleticism and durability, both check marks, so how about production? His final season, Dillon put up a stat line including 1,685 yards on the ground and 14 touchdowns. Hell, his worst season was an injury-shortened 2018 where he still put up 1,108 yards and 10 touchdowns.
He doesn’t provide much value as a pass catcher out of the backfield, but Dillon can run a football down a defense’s throat all day every day. He was also an easy choice here as Eno Benjamin went one pick prior and Bradlee Anae a pick before that. The next best player I think the Lions would have considered here was Nick Coe out of Auburn, but that was more than 15 picks later.
Round 5, Pick 149
James Morgan, QB, Florida International
QB Spotlight WK4⬇️— QB Spotlight (@QBspotlight) September 25, 2019
*James Morgan: FIU
* I know not the start FIU wanted this season, but plenty of season left to get on a streak.
* Morgan healthy enough to gut it out last week & play, 29/41, 394yds passing,3tot tds,1int.
*Absolute dime here⬇️ don’t count out FIU just yet pic.twitter.com/iCZFLWx9gL
I have my own concerns about what the Lions are going to be doing with their two (yes, it should still be two) backup quarterback spots, but since this is my mock I’m doing it my way and picking up someone worth developing into a possible starter down the road.
Morgan is a pocket passer with somewhat limited mobility, but he can pick up yards when he needs to with his feet even if he’s not a weapon in that regard. Through the air, he has a nice, strong arm despite a bit of a wonky passing motion that probably takes a bit off. He’s generally accurate and smart with the football, but what really sets him apart is his pocket presence. Think of him as the anti-David Blough, able to sense where pressure is coming from and anticipate at what point the ball has to be gone along with the wherewithal to ensure that last part happens.
I wanted to get another wide receiver or linebacker here if I couldn’t land a quarterback, but I was still looking at big and slow or small and frail receivers. Linebackers simply weren’t there, with only one (who was both undersized AND slow) in the next 20 picks.
Round 5, Pick 166
Michael Turk, P, Arizona State
In case you thought the Jacked Punter (Michael Turk) ever skipped leg day, here’s his 75-yard punt ... with Tecmo Bowl music pic.twitter.com/ynwUcP8RVB— Benjamin Hoffman (@BenHoffmanNYT) February 29, 2020
The Lions have an immediate need at punter and should draft one with this or their next pick. You can argue that you don’t draft punters, but I will once again counter with the fact that most players taken in this range either don’t make their team or don’t make any lasting impact. The very low percentage chance the Lions find some superstar with this pick isn’t as important as the very high percentage chance they land a four-year starter who will make the roster as a rookie and have an immediate impact. Turk is the best option, in my opinion, and I’m basing it on his leg and not his bench numbers (though that was fun for a minute).
The Lions passed on the opportunity to take a new fullback in Devin Asiasi here, one of the remaining tight ends (all below average athletes because this class is terrible), or a developmental tackle like Terence Steele, or slower corner like Lamar Jackson.
Round 6, Pick 182
James Proche, WR, Southern Methodist
This play didn’t count but I do not care. What an incredible catch by SMU WR James Proche. pic.twitter.com/a3fjX3rVeI— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) November 3, 2019
Having failed mightily to land a receiver earlier in this draft, I had to settle for finding the Danny Amendola successor again. A noted James Proche stan, it really wasn’t my intention to pick him again, but after trying for the first four rounds to find a suitable option without reaching and being unable to do so, I had to have a fallback player.
Proche is a strong route runner with a bigger catch radius than you’d expect at his size. He doesn’t separate all that well, but he catches almost everything thrown in his direction. There were a couple other receivers in this range, but I don’t think the Lions are considering the big slot option anymore so Antonio Gandy-Golden was out, and while Tyrie Cleveland’s athleticism is enticing his tape isn’t good enough to consider him for anything other than practice squad.
If I hadn’t already taken James Morgan, I might have considered Colorado quarterback Steven Montez here for an athletic developmental option.
Round 7, Pick 235
Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming
LB Logan Wilson ( Wyoming, 6’ 2”, 250 Lbs). Stats: (4 seasons) 249 Solo Tackles, 160 Asst Tackles, 409 Combined Tackles, 34.5 TFL, 7 Sacks, 10INT, 2 TD, 14 PD, 4 FR, 1 TD & 5 FF. #LoganWilson #4EDraft2020 pic.twitter.com/Ew7mDCxWjD— 49er_Edits (@49er_edits) February 5, 2020
This one stunned me. I get that TDN’s rankings were used, and he isn’t rated that high for them, so programatically that is why Wilson was available here, but I don’t know how they had him rated so low. I had assumed a player with an elite athletic profile, prototypical linebacker size, and a productive college career where he averaged 102 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3 turnovers a year would get a guy taken much earlier than the final round of the draft. Maybe because he will be a 24-year-old rookie?
I’m not sure why he’s so low, but this was an easy final choice for me. This could have just as easily been a developmental pass rusher like Carter Coughlin, another linebacker like Daniel Bituli, or a special teamer like David Reese. Lavert Hill was still there, which many Michigan fans would have jumped on, but there simply wasn’t a player with this high of an upside or low of a floor available.
So with this mock I was able to address cornerback, pass rushing both on the outside and the interior, right guard, running back, and punter. I was unable to adequately address the long-term roster health of the wide receiver position, find an offensive playmaker, or fully address the linebacker position like I wanted. What decisions did you think were good, bad, or middling? What choices would you have made instead, assuming a trade was off the table? Let us know in the comments and drop a grade below!
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