I have found myself heading over to With The First Pick quite often this draft season. Larry McDaniel runs the scouting blog and keeps it stocked with great information complete with dazzling visuals. WTFP keeps it fresh with a mix of scouting reports, mock drafts and team specific NFL draft content.
Larry took some time to answer a few of my questions earlier this week.
Zac Snyder: Lions fans would have been thrilled to land Prince Amukamara back when it looked like he would probably be off the board by pick 13. Now that it sounds more and more likely he could be available some are backing off the Amukamara bandwagon. Should the Lions take Prince if he’s available or do you think someone else is a better pick?
Larry McDaniel: It depends. Prince Amukamara is an excellent Cornerback prospect that gets overlooked because Patrick Peterson is the number one player in the draft on most analysts’ boards. There are three players the Lions should consider at pick 13. If Tyron Smith or Aldon Smith is sitting there, the Lions must consider them as well as Amukamara. Those are three can’t miss picks in my opinion, and all three would be instant upgrades – making an immediate impact. As it sits now, I don’t see Tyron and Aldon being there, and if that’s the case, Amukamara has to be the guy. Looking at the NFC North and the players that exist in there, a top-flight Cornerback is required in order to compete.
ZS: One local beat writer believes the Lions’ best chance at a trade down is if Julio Jones is still available at 13. Do you agree with this scenario and is there another potential scenario you see that would allow the Lions to trade down?
LM: That’s a great observation by the local beat writer. Julio Jones is an immense talent and teams picking in the back half of the draft want to get their hands on him. Look at the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and Baltimore Ravens. They’re all in need of a receiver and Jones fits in perfectly with their offensive philosophies. Also consider if Aldon Smith is on the board. Teams may be looking to trade up for his services. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in desperate need of an edge rusher, and he fits the bill. If the Lions are open to it, there may be some opportunities to trade back, collect more picks, and still get their guy.
ZS: It sounds like the second round will be the Lions’ best chance to come away with a solid prospect at linebacker. Which linebacker prospect could realistically be there for them at pick 44 that you would take?
LM: I think there’s a good chance that Illinois ILB, Martez Wilson will be sitting there at 44. With his speed, size, and versatility, I think he would make for an excellent defender in the Lions scheme. With that dominating front-four, they’ll keep him clean and he’ll be allowed to fly all over the field. Looking at the teams that pick ahead of the Lions, there isn’t a great need for Inside Linebacker. I think the only real threat is the Denver Broncos. They are transitioning to a 4-3 defense, and need Linebackers who fit the scheme.
ZS: The Lions appear to be doing some running back window-shopping and your latest mock draft has the Lions taking Mikel Leshoure in the second round. What is it you like best about Leshoure and who are some running back prospects that the Lions could look to later in the draft?
LM: I think it’s wise of them to get a look at the Running Back prospects in this year’s draft. I’m actually from Berkeley CA, so I’ve seen what Jahvid Best can do on the field, but I’ve also seen how injury prone he is. Pairing him with a bigger back will make for a dynamic backfield. I mocked Illinois RB, Mikel Lesoure to the Lions because I love his well roundedness. He’s got the vision, balance, lateral movement, and power. He’s also solid in pass protection and catching the ball out of the backfield. As far as later round prospects, I love guys like Shane Vareen out of California, Johnny White out of North Carolina, and Bilal Powell out of Louisville. Those are my sleeper guys that no one is talking about. I envision all of them making solid contributions to an NFL team.