In honor of the best 48 hours in sports, the following is a mock draft for the Detroit Lions, bracketology style.
Round 1: Overall Pick #10
5 seed CB Justin Gilbert vs. 12 seed FS Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix
If you listen to the experts, Justin Gilbert continues to come off the board at pick 10 with the Lions once again trying to solidify the most glaring need on defense. Gilbert has the size and athleticism teams crave and with the large WRs in the NFC North, the pick makes perfect sense.
With four corners picked in the last two drafts, will Lions GM Martin Mayhew pull the trigger on a first round CB? New DC Teryl Austin is a secondary expert and will be eager to show he can turn at least one of them into a starter. Remember corners take seasoning and the company line coming out of Allen Park is that this team is ready to win now.
Clinton-Dix is clearly the best safety in this year’s draft class and would be an immediate upgrade at the position. A big hitter with closing speed and the ability to catch the ball, Clinton-Dix fits the modern NFL mold for the perfect centerfielder.
The last time the Lions took a safety this early was Bennie Blades in 1988, so it’s been awhile. With the loss of Louis Delmas, and the imminent signing of 30 year old James Ihedigbo, a long term solution is needed and with the scarcity of good safeties in this year’s draft, Detroit would take advantage of picking early and get Ha-Ha in the fold.
This is a classic 12-5 upset. On paper, it should be Gilbert, but for the Lions, Clinton-Dix is the better fit.
Round 2: Overall Pick #45
6 seed WR Allen Robinson vs. 11 seed WR Donte Moncrief
The Lions love offensive weapons. If Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are off the board, Detroit will have to wait until round 2 to grab Matthew Stafford’s newest toy.
Both of these players are 6’2” and 220 pounds, with good hands and can seal a corner in the run game. Early mock drafts had Robinson selected one round ahead of Moncrief, but the facts are telling a different story.
Moncrief is better in nearly every measurable and his 4.40 forty makes him the better option to stretch the field opposite Calvin Johnson compared to a very pedestrian 4.60 posted by Robinson.
The signing of Golden Tate, may lead many to look for a slot receiver in the draft, but ideally, Tate should be in the slot to take advantage of his ability after the catch and Detroit would love to add another big target.
Another upset according to the seeds, but after an impressive showing at the combine and great pro day, the smart money is on the underdog.
Round 3: Overall Pick #76
3 seed C Weston Richburg vs. 14 seed CB Keith McGill
With Dominic Raiola hanging on to his NFL career, this pick is as obvious as the seeding. The Lions need a replacement at center and seem very interested in the man from Colorado State.
At the combine, line coach Jeremiah Washburn spent extensive time with Weston and was reportedly going to see him a second time before the combine concluded.
Additionally, Richburg has already been working with Lions guard Larry Warford in Arizona this offseason and comes from an offense similar to the Lions pass-first approach.
McGill is a tall corner at 6’3” and has excelled in press coverage in college with good acceleration and long arms but missed as many games as he played in Utah.
If you had to bet on any of Detroit’s picks in 2014, this is the one.
Round 4: Overall Pick #107
4 seed OLB Jordan Tripp vs. 13 seed DT George Uko
Small school players are always intriguing. Jordan Tripp was a third generation player at Division II Montana and served as team captain. At 6’3” and 235 lbs, he does not have the small school build and shows athleticism and strength found in big conference schools. He posted the fasted 20-yard shuttle for linebackers and was an immediate leader at Indy. He should be a top 100 pick but may slip because of his lack of collegiate competition.
George Uko is an explosive defensive lineman who has the versatility to play defensive end and tackle. He’s a natural 3-technique player, showing ability to penetrate the gap and uses his hands well. With a naturally large frame but only 287 lbs, he has room to pack on a few pounds to compete at the NFL level.
Chalk takes this matchup as the Lions need a linebacker and would be great value if Tripp slips.
Round 5: No Selection
Round 6: Overall Pick #173
8 seed G Michael Schofield vs. 9 seed DE Aaron Lynch
Schofield played tackle at Michigan and earned All-Big Ten honorable mention in his senior year. Highly competitive and maintains his ground with good bend and sufficient arm length. He has trouble with speed rushers which makes the transition to guard in the NFL probable. Has 10 collegiate starts at guard so his versatility as a swing lineman is a plus.
Lynch is a textbook underachiever. Played two years at Notre Dame and then transferred to South Florida. A freak athlete with great combination of size, speed and length who earned First Team All-American Freshman at Notre Dame and First Team American Athletic Conference last season.
He’s dominant when he wants to be, but his motor is not constant and takes too many plays off. Lynch is a big gamble that could pay off huge, but like double 00 in roulette – highly unlikely.
8-9 matchups are usually a coin flip, but the new Lions coaching staff appears likely to avoid high risk players.
Round 7: Overall Pick #204
7 seed QB Jeff Mathews vs. 10 seed SS Vinnie Sunseri
Can the Lions strike gold again in the 7th round as they did with Willie Young? Sunseri played with Clinton-Dix at Alabama and has limited physical abilities but is a field general in the secondary putting his teammates in the right position and alerting them of formations. Plays tough but limited speed will hurt him at the next level. Add in a torn ACL in October and he is a special teamer at best.
Mathews is an intriguing QB prospect, he played in a pass-friendly system at Cornell. With big hands, big arm and ability to change arm angles he can make all the throws and has shown touch on the ball. Only had Ivy League competition and holds onto the ball too long but was impressive at the Shrine game.
Kellen Moore is not the answer if Stafford goes down, Mathew is a perfect project for the quarterback-centric coaching staff now in Detroit.
Chalk holds again here. With or without Shaun Hill returning to Detroit, the Lions need to develop a young quarterback and Mathews is a bigger, younger version of Stafford.