Oct 26, 2013; College Park, MD, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Sammy Watkins (2) tackled following his catch by Maryland Terrapins defensive back William Likely (4) at Byrd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
In this final SLR Detroit Lions Big Board, you won’t see any drastic changes from the previous big board. Why? Because not a lot has changed. This reflects the NFL as well – many teams have their boards set weeks and sometimes months before the draft, with very few changes occurring. With that said, here’s my final 2014 first round Detroit Lions Big Board.
1) Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (Previous rank: 1)
If Detroit moves up and Clowney is available, he’ll be the selection. That said, if Clowney is available past the first pick, he won’t come cheap. The St. Louis Rams can expect a bidding war for the second pick in that situation.
2) Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo (Previous rank: 2)
Some analysts now believe Mack may be a safer pick than Clowney and consider him a darkhorse candidate to be the first pick. He’d be exactly the flamethrower that the new Detroit coaching staff is looking for.
3) Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson (Previous rank: 3)
Martin Mayhew has made no secret of his love for Sammy Watkins and would have to make a move up to grab him. If Mike Evans is drafted before Watkins, as some predict, the price may not be too steep.
4) Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn (Previous rank: 4)
An elite prospect at left tackle, Detroit would jump on the chance to select Robinson. In a trade up, don’t expect Robinson to be the target, even with his All-Pro potential.
Sep 14, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies receiver Mike Evans (13) runs after a catch against Alabama Crimson Tide cornerback Deion Belue (13) at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
5) Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M (Previous rank: 6)
Mike Evans may be an ideal fit opposite Calvin Johnson as teams would be forced to play physical against him, often leaving a single high safety over the top. At this point it looks like Evans would require a trade up as well.
6) Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M (Previous rank: 7)
Another talented left tackle prospect, Matthews is considered a safe pick and would immediately start on the Detroit offensive line. It’d be a shock if he made it past the 9th pick.
7) Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh (Previous rank: 5)
After making his first appearance on the big board last month, a re-evaluation of the Lions priorities drops Donald down a couple spots. His ability to rush the passer from a variety of positions could see him targeted in a trade up situation by teams such as Chicago and Dallas.
8) Odell Beckham, WR, LSU (Previous rank: 10)
Beckham may be best suited to play the slot, but he’s got home run potential every time the ball is in his hands. I think he’s a top-15 caliber player.
Dec 28, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels tight end Eric Ebron (85) runs after a catch during the third quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina defeated Cincinnati 39-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
9) Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina (Previous rank: 8)
Tight end may not be a position of need, but when a playmaker of Ebron’s caliber is available at 10, I think you certainly have to give him a look. He also could be a trade up target from teams picking in the teens.
10) Ha’Sean Clinton Dix, FS, Alabama (Previous rank: 9)
Clinton-Dix is still my top ranked safety, though others, such as Jimmie Ward, have made their way up draft boards through the process. Safety is a long-term need in Detroit, and in an average safety class, the Lions may have to reach a bit if they want to grab their guy.