Love him or hate him, Mel Kiper Jr. is one of the biggest names in the NFL draft game. He was there with ESPN in the early years of televised drafts and can be credited with helping the draft grow to the huge annual event it is today.
So who does he have for the Detroit Lions in his first mock draft of the 2014 draft cycle? It’s not another weapon for Matthew Stafford – it’s Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. Kiper comments:
With continued improvement from Ezekiel Ansah to go with the dominance of the interior of that defensive line, the Lions could create a ton of pressure on opposing QBs next season. The problem is if they can’t do a better job of covering, it might not make a difference. Gilbert would help the cause coming off a season where you could argue that no cornerback in college football performed better. He has the size to compete with bigger wide receivers and the agility and speed to run with anybody. He also brings strong return skills.
Many early mock drafts have had the Lions grabbing Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Kiper very well may have done the same, had he not sent Watkins to the Oakland Raiders with the fifth pick. Still, Gilbert hasn’t been a total stranger in other mocks I have seen so far.
Looking for some other options? Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans both come off the board in Kiper’s mock within three picks following the Lions.