Pro Football Focus recently released their third 2017 NFL Mock Draft and like NFL.com and Mel Kiper, they have them drafting a defensive lineman. There is a twist however. The analytics gurus at Pro Football Focus think the Lions should put a run stopper on the edge.
That edge player is Soloman Thomas out of Stanford. Thomas is Pro Football Focus’ highest ranked college run defender and would help the Lions prevent big plays from developing out of the opposing backfield.
Here is what PFF had to say about Soloman and the Lions:
"Adding PFF’s Best Run Defender in college football should help to shore up a poor run defense that got gashed at times in 2016. Thomas played mostly on the interior for Stanford, even more impressive considering he’s only 270 pounds. That projects more to a 4-3 defensive end role on early downs where Thomas can add a strong run-stopping presence before kicking inside on passing downs to rush the passer where his 87.7 grade ranked fourth among interior defensive linemen. – Pro Football Focus"
It is way too early to put much stock into any of these mock drafts. A lot can change after the combine. However, they are helpful in understanding the range of players that could be available when Bob Quinn and the Lions pick at 21. Soloman Thomas represents the third different player projected for the 21st overall pick. That said, most pundits seem to agree the Lions should focus on the edge.
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Other players that could fall into the Lions range. Taco Charlton, who NFL.com projected as the Lions pick, drops to number 28 in the PFF Mock. Mel Kiper’s pick for the Lions, OLB Tim Willams will be off the board at 16. While potential draft target, offensive Tackle Ryan Ramczyk, goes just ahead of the Lions at 20. Defensive Tackle, Malik McDowell may also be on the board when the Lions pick.
There are two other interesting players that may be on the board. Michigan Cornerback, Jourdan Lewis and Washington Wide Receiver John Ross. Both would fill a need for the Lions and could have an immediate impact.
It is a good year for the Lions to be picking so late in the first round. The draft is deep at defensive line and defensive backfield. Consequently the Lions should be able to fill a team need with a solid player who could start on opening day.