The NFL differs from the other North American professional sports leagues in a lot of different ways, but mainly because it offers year long excitement for its fans. Rather it be the actual season, the playoffs and Super Bowl, free agency or the combine and NFL Draft, the league has a way of giving fans something to look forward to the whole year.
For the most part of the last 20+ years, we Detroit Lions fans have come to expect a very high draft position once the season has concluded. However, that is not the case this year. The Lions finished 11-5 and earned a berth in a wild-card playoff game. This rare success (hopefully it becomes the norm) will have the Lions selecting 23rd in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft.
We want to start off by saying that this is our first mock draft since the Lions season ended, and depending on what the Lions do and don’t do in free agency could definitely cause these selections to change. Nevertheless, as of today these are our best guesses on which players would be ideal selections for the Detroit Lions in the first three rounds of this year’s NFL Draft.
Round 1, Pick 23: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
The Lions offensive line took a major step backwards this past season. After boasting a top 10 unit the prior year, the Detroit offensive line looked over powered by more than a few defensive fronts and gave up the 4th most sacks on its quarterback, Matthew Stafford, in the entire NFL – including the season ending one against Dallas in the playoffs. Enter Ogbuehi (ah-BOO-hee). He is the latest of a constant influx of premier lineman to come out of College Station the past few years. Ogbuehi has the prototypical size and athletic ability to succeed in the NFL right away, but the key here: he is flexible enough to play both guard and tackle. If the Lions are serious about improving it’s run game and pass protection then drafting a player like Ogbuehi is a no-brainer.
Round 2, Pick 55: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
Let’s face it folks – Rashean Mathis is 34 years old (which is like 56 for a NFL corner). Every other corner on Detroit’s roster, not named Darius Slay, are decent nickle backs at best. The Lions need another corner to match up with today’s growing talent of NFL wide receivers. We have the Lions dipping their hands back into the SEC with the second round selection of LSU cornerback Jalen Collins. He is tall and rangy, some traits that are coveted by NFL teams today. It would be shocking if the Lions didn’t look for help in the defensive secondary in the first two rounds.
Round 3, Pick 87: Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State
What would a Detroit Lions mock draft be without the Lions selecting another weapon for Matthew Stafford? Although the signing of wide receiver Golden Tate tremendously helped alleviate some of the pressure off of Calvin Johnson to dominate every game, the passing game at times looked to be missing a reliable third option. Youngsters like tight end Eric Ebron and wide recievers Corey Fuller and Jeremy Ross made reliable plays that were far and in between. After a stellar college career at Kansas Sate, Tyler Lockett is bringing his pristine route running and dangerous run after the catch ability to the NFL. His size and small hands will cause many teams to pass on Lockett, but the Lions would be smart to nab him if he falls to them at this stage in the third round.