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Detroit Lions land 3 Georgia defenders in ESPN’s latest 3-round mock draft

ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay alter picks in their latest mock draft and the Detroit Lions come away with three defenders from the National Champion Georgia Bulldogs

NFL Combine Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

We’re less than 10 days from the 2022 NFL Draft and analysts continue to look for creative ways to deploy mock drafts for their audiences. On Tuesday, ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay published a 3-round mock draft ($) where the duo alternate picks.

McShay was up first and he paired the Jacksonville Jaguars with Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, leaving Kiper to pick for the Lions at No. 2...

No. 2 Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

Here is Kiper’s reasoning: “I don’t have Walker ranked this high—he’s No. 10 on my Big Board—but he’s going to go in the top five picks because of his ceiling. If the Lions can’t get Hutchinson, they could get instant edge-rush help with Walker.”

Kiper has been all over the map with his predictions this offseason. We have seen him project the Lions to take Hutchinson, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, safety Kyle Hamilton, last week it was corner Sauce Gardner, and now Walker.

So why the wide-ranging disparity? It likely comes down to the fact that most of the players at the top aren’t separated by much and a lot of how the draft plays out will be determined by team preference. Meaning, that while Kiper may have Walker at No. 10 on his personal board, it’s highly unlikely his board will parallel the Lions.

But the Walker selection makes sense and he is being paired to Detroit more each week. Even ESPN’s draft prediction model believes Walker has the best chance of being the selection:

Last week, Kiper noted that he was confident the Lions were comfortable with Jared Goff at quarterback and believed the Lions would not pick a signal-caller at No. 32 (something he has projected all season), saying the following:

The more I talk to people in the league, the more I think the Lions will stand pat on a quarterback with their three picks in the top 34. Jared Goff can be the starter in 2022, and if he struggles, chances are Detroit will be right back in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick, which it can use on a signal-caller.

So logically, this week, Kiper projects the Lions to select...

No. 32 Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

Here’s Kiper’s explanation: “How about this one, Todd? The Lions would get the fifth-year option for Ridder, which we know is important. And I think he could be their starter soon. Ridder is a veteran with poise, arm strength and the ability to throw on the move.”

Sigh. Back to the fifth-year option is an important enough reason to take a quarterback theory. Look, I like Ridder plenty, and I think he will probably be off the board before pick No. 32, but this ideology that the fifth-year option is enough to justify the pick is just lazy.

Next up, Kiper pairs the Lions with the same player he paired them with at No. 32 last week...

No. 34 Lewis Cine, S, Georgia

Kiper explains: “Cine played safety, nickel corner, wide corner and linebacker for the national champs last season. He also ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash at the combine. With their third pick in the top 34, the Lions could get a player who makes the whole defense better.”

Cine visited Allen Park last week, and this is right in the range that most project for him. If the Lions were able to land two Georgia defenders within their first three selections they’d surely be happy.

But what if they were able to get a third Georgia defender...

No. 66 Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia

Kiper addresses the pick: “We’ve probably undervalued Tindall a little bit, Todd—I think he’s more likely to go in the top 45 picks. The Lions could get a steal here with a fast off-ball linebacker with upside.”

Tindall is the rawest—but fastest—of the Georgia front-seven defenders and No. 66 is a nice spot to land him. Right now, his game is based almost entirely on pure speed, but he has the upside to develop it further. Tindall started for the Lions at the Senior Bowl at their BUCK linebacker position, which also figures to be his natural position in the NFL.

For the final pick, the Lions finally land an odd number (97), and that means McShay gets to share his thoughts on the Lions...

No. 97 Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M

Here’s what McShay had to say about the pick: “The Lions might have more pressing needs, but this is really good value for Spiller here. And remember, D’Andre Swift has yet to play a full season in the NFL.”

I agree with McShay that this is a solid value selection, but it’s also earlier that I would prefer to address the position given the stable of running backs on the current roster. He’s only an average athlete—which can be problematic in the NFL at the position—but he’s a solid runner who has a terrific combination of traits that results in positive yardage and solid results.

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