Today marks the last day of the NFL’s Combine in Indianapolis and the start of another glorious draft season. The late Tom “Killer” Kowalski always said the season for us draft geeks doesn’t start until the Combine ends. Or in this case, is almost over. In what’s hailed as “The deepest and best draft class I’ve seen in ten years” by NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, and the Lions are sitting in the cat-bird seat with their pick at number ten. Five of those spots will go to QB’s and OT’s, which the Lions don’t need. That leaves them to basically take the fifth-best player left in an awesome draft. Game on.
We as fans make all kinds of jokes about the Combine, watching football players run around in shorts. The fact is that this is serious stuff, as fractions of a second can raise or lower your draft stock which in turn raises or lowers your signing bonus. A good portion of these guys may only get one NFL contract, and after playing this sport since they could tie their own shoes, they suddenly find themselves literally running for dollars.
Jadeveon Clowney ran a ridiculous 4.53 at the Combine yesterday morning. Match that with Sammy Watkins’ 4.43 over the weekend, and there are now seven players automatically off the board already. With Khalil Mack of Buffalo running a respectable number, you can pretty much guarantee that he’s the eighth player to mark off the list. I know we still have over two months to the draft left, but I’m just helping you out by narrowing the choices down to the respectable few that have a realistic chance of being taken by your Detroit Lions.
The Lions only have a vested interest in three players for their first round selection running today: safety HaHa Clinton-Dix of Alabama and corners Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State and Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma St. Unless one of the corners tears up the turf, and even then, I don’t see Martin Mayhew pulling the trigger on a corner that high in the draft.
The way the draft is shaking down in the pre-free agency period, the whole world knows that the Lions are going to draft somebody for the back seven or a wide receiver. It already looks like it will come down to HaHa Clinton-Dix or wide receiver Mike Evans of Texas A&M.
Before this weekend, I was sold on the safety from ‘Bama, but I’m not so sure anymore after watching the impressive display by Mike Evans this weekend. He didn’t look like a number two receiver to me – he looked like a future number one. He ran a respectable 4.53, 40 time, but showed great hand-eye coordination and terrific hands. He was very fluid and always caught the ball away from his body. Todd McShay had this to say about him: “He is an absolute pit bull on the field, and there is no receiver in this draft who is more dangerous when the ball is in the air. Both the tape and the advanced metrics make the case that he is the most proven down-the-field pass-catcher in the 2014 class. The Lions need a difference-maker opposite Calvin Johnson, and Johnson’s leadership and experience could be just what Evans needs to avoid early-career pitfalls.”
Look at it this way: The Lions are doing everything they can to fix Matthew Stafford, and drafting Mike Evans will go a long way toward doing that. We’ll just have to wait a couple of months to see if I’m right, or until I change my mind again.
Welcome to Draft season.