With the NFL Draft just days away, the mock drafts are coming in hot and fast. ESPN’s top draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay are the latest to drop their newest mock, tag-teaming for a three-round mock. The two alternated every pick until they made all 100 picks.
Maybe this mock was the result of hearing more about what will actually happen, or maybe the two just put out a quirky mock draft to be different from their past mocks, but it is one of the stranger mock drafts I have seen recently.
With the Detroit Lions on the clock in the first round, the following players were still available:
- DE Marcus Davenport
- DT Taven Bryan
- LB Leighton Vander Esch
- RB Derrius Guice
- G Isaiah Wynn
- DE Harold Landry
- DT Maurice Hurst
Yes, all of those legitimate options were available at 20 overall... and Todd McShay passed on every single one.
Instead, McShay chose Iowa center James Daniels with Detroit’s first round pick. Daniels is one of the top centers in this year’s draft. His elite athleticism is part of the reason some consider him the best in the class:
Great RAS overall, though he's missing speed scores. Yes he has a legit shot to go to Lions at 20. No, I wouldn't take him there. Injury history a big cause for concern, we've already seen what happens when you can't remain healthy on the OL. pic.twitter.com/jD4eODJ7Ad— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 9, 2018
But as our own Kent Lee Platte mentions above, injury issues have plagued Daniels’ career. A knee injury—something that is always concerning for a lineman (he’s already had knee surgery once)—caused him to miss a few games in 2016
Because his speed and athleticism is better than his size, most project him to thrive in a zone-blocking scheme over power schemes. Though it’s unclear which scheme the Lions will be utilizing most of the time under new offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, Daniels could come in an immediately start at either guard or center.
Having passed on a ton of defensive talent in the first round, Mel Kiper stepped to the plate to right his partner’s wrong. And, believe it or not, one of the defensive linemen that could’ve been taken 20th overall was there waiting for Detroit at 51.
Michigan’s Maurice Hurst was Kiper’s second-round pick for Detroit, calling Hurst, “a penetrator built for a 4-3 defense.” Though the Lions could very well see a lot more 3-4 looks with head coach Matt Patricia now in charge, Hurst brings an important skillset the Lions are currently lacking: Most notably, pass rushing from the interior.
Hurst is Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 interior defender in this year’s draft:
How do the top prospects on the defensive interior fit in the NFL? @PFF_Josh takes a look:https://t.co/22AfgHtuSp pic.twitter.com/kMmIZRBDkV— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 26, 2018
Though some claim Hurst is too small for Patricia’s defense, his lighter-than-average build didn’t stop him from being a great run defender to go along with his pass rush ability. According to PFF, he finished 13th in run-stop percentage among interior defenders.
It would be a pretty big shock if Hurst was still there at 51 overall, but if enough teams are worried about the heart condition red flag raised by the NFL Combine medical check, it’s certainly possible.
With McShay back in charge, the Lions added another defensive piece in the third and final round of this mock. This time, the Lions picked up an edge rusher: Ohio State’s Jalyn Holmes.
Jalyn Holmes posted a #RAS just inside elite range, but skipped the agi drills. Could drop out of that range if he does poorly, or jump even higher if he does well. pic.twitter.com/uiDwf92PTE— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 5, 2018
Interestingly, while Kiper justified his pick of Hurst because of his fit in a 4-3 defense, Holmes does not project to be a very good fit in a four-man front. As you can see from his RAS chart above, Holmes’ size and strength (and lack of explosive speed) make him a great fit as a 3-4 end.
The Lions are thin at the defensive end position as is, and they don’t really have a prototypical 3-4 end on the roster—although Kerry Hyder could take over that role should he rebound from his achilles injury.
So to recap:
- Round 1 (McShay): C James Daniels
- Round 2 (Kiper): DT Maurice Hurst
- Round 3 (McShay): DE Jalyn Holmes
It’s an unorthodox draft for the Lions, but it does hit on three of the team’s biggest needs, and the value is solid in each round. A couple of these players aren’t popular names in Lions mock drafts, but it’s still a pretty nice haul for Detroit. What are your thoughts?