Drysdale: Full Detroit Lions 2019 ‘Perfect’ NFL Mock Draft Vol. 1

Polar Vortex 2019!

What better time than to write up my first full Detroit Lions 2019 NFL Mock Draft?

Let me begin by saying these mock drafts are extremely fluid as free agency will play a huge role in what direction Lions’ GM Bob Quinn decides to go in the NFL Draft.

For example, I personally believe that acquiring an edge rusher should be the number one priority this offseason and I would have to believe that Quinn agrees with that. But if he goes out and signs a big name DE such as Trey Flowers out of New England (yes, please!), the chances of the Lions drafting an edge rusher with their No. 8 pick in the first round would drop, though it is still possible.

This volume of my full Detroit Lions mock draft focusses on what the current needs are at this moment in time as if not a single free agent is signed.

So, with that understood, let’s take a look at Vol. 1 of my full Detroit Lions 2019 ‘Perfect’ NFL Mock Draft.

Round 1 (No. 8 overall) Rashan Gary (DL) – Michigan

Despite not having as much production as many projected him to have at the college level, Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary is the real deal and I have no doubt that he will be a top 10 pick. Gary would fit in beautifully with what Matt Patricia wants to do with the Lions’ defense and if he is available at No. 8, Bob Quinn should not hesitate to pull the trigger.

From The Draft Network:

Rashan Gary is a versatile defender with the needed abilities to be a disruptive force working from 3T. Gary has the ability to set the edge vs. the run and can be worked on the outside sparingly, although his pass rush skills are best utilized in scenarios that allow him to play with linear angles and with his hips aligned behind his pads to optimize his power and quickness.

Round 2 (No. 43 overall) Irv Smith Jr. (TE) – Alabama

2018 proved exactly how important it is for Matthew Stafford to have a tight end who can make plays. When Bob Quinn got rid of Eric Ebron, his game plan was to upgrade the position but as we know, that backfired on him. Some have said the Lions should draft a tight end in the first round, which in my opinion would be a mistake, but selecting Irv Smith out of Alabama in Round 2 would be a huge get. Smith is not only a great run blocker but he can get open and makes plays in the passing game.

From The Draft Network:

Not many tight ends in college football can hold a candle to what Irv Smith did this season for Alabama. 710 yards, seven touchdowns and an average of 16.3 yards per catch are all eye-popping numbers which led to Smith wisely bolting for the NFL following the National Championship Game. There his athleticism, smooth routes and strong blocking skills should translate quickly into a versatile starting tight end.

While Smith may lack elite explosiveness, he still has the speed to win vertically as a flexed receiver while being one of the best blocking tight ends in the draft. The risk of drafting him is minimal, especially if he tests as well as expected. Smith may never be a top 2-3 tight end in the NFL, but he’s fully capable of being among the best in the next tier.

Round 3 (No. 88 overall) Michael Jackson (CB) – Miami

Despite what some fans may think, the Lions’ secondary (outside of Darius Slay) is hot garbage. Unless Slay can cover both sides of the field on the same play (he can’t), the Lions absolutely must give him some help on the other side. The answer could be Michael Jackson out of the University of Miami. Jackson has good size and he is not afraid to mix it up when asked to play man coverage.

From The Draft Network:

Michael Jackson has attractive qualities as a potential starter in the NFL. Jackson’s size and physicality at the line will serve him well on the boundary. Yet Jackson’s lapses in discarding blocks, tendency to grab just a split second too long on breaks and his modest change of direction skills and burst in space pose as barriers that will make him a scheme-specific prospect. Jackson needs to play press-man coverage in order to properly illustrate his strengths.

Round 4 (No. 111 overall) Andy Isabella (WR) – UMass

I have been all over Andy Isabella since Senior Bowl week started and the rest of the nation has hopped on the bandwagon. One of Bob Quinn’s biggest jobs this offseason will be to replace Golden Tate and Isabella is the man for the job. Not only his he extremely fast but he runs efficient routes that allow him to get the separation he needs. There is no doubt in my mind that Isabella would be the perfect weapon for Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ offense. The only problem is that rather than waiting until the 5th Round, the Lions will likely have to take him in the fourth since the hype is high.

From The Draft Network:

Andy Isabella is a player who has a much more prominent pathway to NFL success after the rule changes in recent seasons. A diminutive, non-physical player, Isabella wins with quickness and thrives in space. His best role would be as a slot/depth option on a team that looks to space the field and isolate their athletes one on one. Passing systems like the ones in KC and SF come to mind as specific favorable fits.

Round 5 (No. 147 overall) Miles Sanders (RB) – Penn State

Kerryon Johnson looks like the real deal if Kerryon Johnson can stay healthy. Unfortunately, even going back to his days at Auburn, Johnson has not proven he can stay on the field for a full season. In today’s NFL, it is a nice advantage to have a pair of running backs to shoulder the load and Miles Sanders could be the guy to give Johnson a hand. Though he was overshadowed in his first two seasons at Penn State by a guy named Saquon Barkley, Johnson rushed for 1,274 yards (5.8 ypc) in 2018, proving he can get the job done.

Miles Sanders entered Penn State as the top-ranked RB in the 2016 recruiting class. The Pennsylvania native stayed in state despite offers from all the top schools in the country. Through his first two seasons at Penn State, he only saw 56 carries due to being stuck behind Saquon Barkley. In that small sample size, Sanders fumbled the ball 5 times and lost 3 of them. Fumbles continued to be an issue once he took over the starting RB role in 2018, he fumbled 5 times losing 4 of them. Sanders’ junior season was a long-awaited breakout. He tallied over 1,200 rushing yards along with 24 receptions.

From Devy Football Factory:

Sanders is a very thick built RB, his legs are thick and provide him with a nice power base. His legs almost rival that of his former teammate Saquon Barkley. Sanders is a powerful runner that also has great ability to juke and make defenders miss. He has the strength to power through arm tackles and take defenders head on. Sanders has the power to run through defenders and gain additional yards. Along with being powerful, he is a very shifty runner. On a number of occasions, Sanders has almost juked an entire defense on large chunk plays. He is very good laterally but can get out of control trying to juke too many defenders and lose yards. He’s proven adequate in the short passing game.
Sanders is lacking a true elite gear. He misses out on some long TD runs due to not having that elite gear to pull away from defenders. He’s more than fast enough to contribute at the NFL but the big explosive plays won’t be where Sanders makes his money.

Round 6 (No. 186 overall) Damian Prince (OG) – Maryland

As we speak, it sounds like T.J. Lang is interested in playing for the Lions again in 2019. That being said, with his injuries piling up (especially brain injuries), he could either change his mind or the Lions could decide to move on from him. Damian Prince out of Maryland is not necessarily the guy to step in for Lang (at least not immediately), but he could end up developing into a solid NFL starter down the road.

From NFL Draft Bible:

Big, strong, physical and wide, making it extremely hard for pass-rushers to get through or around. He does a nice job on chip blocks and getting a body on multiple defenders on any given play. Does well against speed rushers due to his athleticism and ability to change direction but lacks the speed and footwork to play outside. He has a proven track record playing in the Big Ten and has started since his redshirt freshman season at both right tackle and right guard. A visual learner, according to his offensive line coach Tyler Bowen, who sends online video clips and uses practice footage to show examples of the right technique. He has gained about 30 pounds since his freshman season. While he has the experience playing both tackle and guard, he is definitely better suited on the inside, where he can compete for a starting job at the next level.

Round 6 (No. 205 overall) Jordan Ta’amu (QB) – Texas A&M

Matthew Stafford is the Detroit Lions quarterback and he will be the Detroit Lions quarterback for the foreseeable future. As we speak, former Michigan State QB Connor Cook is penciled in as Stafford’s backup but you can bet that Bob Quinn will be looking for a developmental quarterback.

One quarterback who could slide to Day 3 is Jordan Ta’amu out of Ole Miss. Ta’amu may not have the perfect NFL build for an NFL QB but he is a high character guy who gets the job done on the field. Will Ta’amu be available in Round 6? Maybe. If he is, the Lions had better snag him immediately.

From The Draft Network:

In a league that covets quarterbacks with tools and character, it’s befuddling to me why Ta’amu is receiving zero attention while quarterbacks with all kinds of flaws are being billed as Round 1 candidates. I’m not suggesting we put Ta’amu in their conversation, I’m suggesting we put them into his conversation. And keep him in that conversation.

The odds of Ta’amu becoming a franchise quarterback are slim – like almost every other quarterback in this class. But if you’re looking for upside and a lot of the baseline traits needed to be a successful signal caller in the NFL, Ta’amu might be exactly what you need, and you might not need to spend more than a day three pick to get him.

Round 7 (No. 226 overall) Delvon Randall (S) – Temple

When we get down to the 7th Round of the NFL draft, we are really just throwing darts. No. 1, who knows which players will be available and No. 2, of those available players, which ones will the Lions have on their draft board. That being said, safety Delvon Randall is a guy the Lions could move on if he is still available when they make their first of two 7th Round picks.

From The Draft Network:

Size and strength are pro-ready. Has shown the ability to man multiple roles in Temple secondary. Widely regarded within the program as a top-notch communicator and leader. Played through a myriad of injuries last season, which did seem to impact him on the field.

Mostly a sure tackler, shows good form to wrap and drive through contact. Sifts through trash well around the box in run defense. When he brings it, no issue getting runners on the ground 1v1. Run support is inconsistent, but angles and body control are typically excellent when closing from distance.

Frustrating lack of consistency as a run defender. Often late to get into his run fills and seemed passive in his body language about getting involved in tackles when coming from deep. Would not describe him as a high motor player all of the time. Will miss some tackles in space due to an inability to change directions quickly with the ball carrier.

Biggest concern is his athleticism. Needs to play faster on a consistent basis. Seems like his pace of play varied from drive-to-drive, game-to-game. Not sure he has the long speed or short-area quickness to excel in either man or single-high coverage. Very little man coverage experience in the three games I saw on tape.

Round 7 (No. 236 overall) Isaac Nauta (TE) – Georgia

Coming out of high school, Isaac Nauta was a 5-star prospect. While at Georgia, he never really developed into a great receiving tight end but he showed that his blocking skills are very ready for the next level. Personally, I would not be surprised to see Nauta go in the 5th or 6th round but since this is what the “perfect” Lions’  NFL Draft would look like, let’s roll with him in the 7th round.

From The Draft Network:

A former five-star recruit, Nauta started fast at Georgia, but the offense never evolved as it should have, which limited his impact as a receiver in the Bulldogs offense. Blessed with good speed and terrific hands, Nauta can make plays vertically and is a bull after the catch, but doesn’t have ideal separation ability as a route runner against sticky man coverage defenders.

Nevertheless, blockers like Nauta don’t come along at the position often, making him a high floor prospect with little downside as a mid-late day two pick. He’ll contribute as a rookie, the only question is how dynamic a receiving option Nauta can become over time.


Written by Don Drysdale

I am a fan of all Detroit sports and LOVE to write about them!

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