If the NFL hadn’t gotten so greedy about monopolizing our time and extending the NFL Draft by two weeks, we would be going crazy with anticipation about the draft being only days away. Instead, it’s still a little over two weeks away. Since I never pass up a chance to give myself a pat on the back, I’ll take this occasion to do it again, because it looks like my mock draft in February may come true. There I said the Lions will select Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with their first round pick.
Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft, which came out last week, has the Lions taking Clinton-Dix with the tenth pick in the first round. That means it must be true, right? Seriously, Mel’s first mock draft had the Lions taking cornerback Justin Gilbert with their first pick, a notion I never bought because the lions want to win now and corners take years to develop. Secondly, Martin Mayhew feels like he has a good crop of young DB’s growing in his backyard, and wants to see them develop under new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.
Then Mel had the Lions taking wide receiver Mike Evans after coming around to my way of thinking on the cornerbacks. Things have changed since that version in early March, and now it looks like Evans may be taken be Tampa Bay Bucs with the seventh pick. Everyone knows the Detroit Lions fascination with glitzy wide receivers, so I’m glad he likely will be gone when the Lions pick, as to not give them a choice. We all know what they will do if he’s still on the board. The Lions front office will fall into a dream-like trance like they always do, claiming Matthew Stafford needs more elite weapons and take him.
For the record, I think the Lions should select Clinton-Dix, even if Evans is available. I expect to see a huge improvement in Stafford’s play this season due to the new coaches, so the Lions can get that receiver in the third round in this deep draft for that position. Even though I expect to see improvement in the defense from the new coaching as well, the back of that defense needs an infusion of young blood. I like the addition of James Ihedigbo to go along with Glover Quin in the backfield. It’s probably the best unit we’ve had back there in some time, but they are both getting long in the tooth, and the Lions need a young stud to learn from them.
Not since the days of Bennie Blades have I felt confident about deep throws against the Lions secondary. Nowadays I just close my eyes and pray that someone is in the vicinity to knock the ball away. Do you know what helps out cornerbacks as much as a strong pass rush does? Safeties that can cover their behinds when they make a mistake.
One of the biggest pluses of bringing in Ihedigbo was that he is a leader who is a good teacher to young ball players; a “Closer” like Sheldon White is talking about. Clinton-Dix is compared to Earl Thomas, drafted 14th by the Seahawks in the 2010 draft. Sounds to me like if the Lions draft Clinton-Dix, they could have a dominant set of safeties that could improve this defense immensely.
The next step in completing this defense can be achieved with the Lions second pick in the draft. I’ll let you know the strategy next week.