Detroit Lions pre-NFL Combine 7-round 2023 mock draft
After a strong week in Mobile by all accounts, we had Henley has one of our five players to watch during the Senior Bowl game a few weeks ago.
Henley had quite a college journey. He played four seasons at Nevada with time at wide receiver, kick returner, both safety spots and in the slot. He became a linebacker in 2020, and in 2021 he had 94 tackles and four interceptions for the Wolfpack. He then moved on to Washington State in 2022, finishing with 106 tackles (12 tackles for loss), four sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
Henley drew particular praise for his work in coverage during Senior Bowl practice week against higher level competition. That’s an area the Lions can certainly use help in, all-around and at the linebacker level. And it’s not as if Henley is a slouch or a liability against the run. If there’s a knock on him it’s that he’s only 6-foot tall, but he’s also 230 pounds (pending measurements at the Combine).
The Lions may turn to the draft to make a notable addition at linebacker. Henley was an easy pick here.
Williams was a three-year starter at Syracuse, and the ACC’s leader in pass breakups in 2020 and 2021. He had two interceptions in seven games last season, before a torn ACL against Notre Dame in late-October obviously ended his season.
Williams’ medical evaluation in Indianapolis, and post-Combine re-check if he has one (which feels likely), will be important to where he gets drafted. But he has good size (6-foot, 189 pounds), and a solid all-around skill set to make a smooth transition to the next level. A lack of long speed, pre-injury, may dampen his stock for some teams. But the Lions easily double-dip at cornerback with the opportunity to do it here.
With Jamaal Williams a free agent (and not a long-term answer anyway), and D’Andre Swift entering the final year of his contract, the Lions should be looking at running back depth in this draft. And yes, I nearly jumped on the Bijan Robinson at No. 18 bandwagon, but decided to wait.
McBride had a very nice 2021 sophomore season at UAB (1,371 yards, 6.7 yards per carry,13 touchdowns. He followed it with even better numbers last season–1,713 yards (second in FBS), 7.4 yards per carry, 19 touchdowns. The whole in his game appears to be as a pass catcher, with just five receptions over the last two seasons, but that could be a usage issue far more than a skillset issue.
Concerns about the level of competition McBride faced have merit. But let’s look at his game logs to see what he did against notable competition over the last two seasons.
2021 season: 18 carries for 111 yards vs. Tulane; 24 carries for 144 yards vs. UTSA; 28 carries for 183 yards vs. BYU (bowl game)
2022 season: 20 carries for 177 yards at Liberty; 19 carries for 141 yards vs. UTSA; 13 carries for 34 yards vs. LSU, 16 carries for 272 yards at Louisiana Tech
PFF gave me a F for this pick, while they also have McBride at No. 79 on their big board. So they downgraded me based on perception of need. But running back should not be dismissed as a need down the road for the Lions, and it’s closer down the road than might be easy to see.