The Super Bowl is over, the 2018 Senior Bowl is in the books, and the NFL Scouting Combine is upon us. For the Detroit Lions, this offseason will be extremely crucial as they not only hired a new head coach, Matt Patricia, former defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, but they will have the opportunity to add some key pieces to their roster that will help them contend in the near future.
What Lions general manager Bob Quinn does in free agency will help determine the route he goes in the NFL Draft but for now, we will focus on what the Lions would do if the draft was today.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the Detroit Lions Perfect 2018 NFL Mock Draft (Vol. 2)
*As of now, the Lions have one pick in each of the first five rounds of the draft.
ROUND 1 – Maurice Hurst (DT) Michigan
This is a very difficult one for me right off the bat. At this point, my dream pick would be DL Vita Vea out of Washington but if I am going to be honest with myself, I have to believe Vea will be off the board before the Lions select 20th overall. That being said, if Vea is my No. 1, my No. 1A is Maurice Hurst out of the University of Michigan. Hurst is a high motor guy who would fit perfectly in Patricia’s defensive scheme, especially if Haloti Ngata does not return. The Lions really need a guy to clog up the middle and Hurst would fit the role and immediately improve the interior of the defensive line.
ROUND 2- Billy Price (G/C) – Ohio State
If they ever really want to contend for a Super Bowl, the Detroit Lions must improve their offensive line. Specifically, the Lions have to fix the interior of their offensive line either via free agency or the NFL Draft. Billy Price out of Ohio State is a talented offensive lineman who can play both center and guard at the next level. At 6-feet-4, 315 lbs, Price is a big man. But he is also very smart and would upgrade the Lions offensive line overnight (even though he is a Buckeye!)
ROUND 3- Rashaad Penny (RB) – San Diego State
That is how many rushing yards Rashaad Penny had during his senior season at San Diego State. That astounding number also puts Penny in the top five all-time for rushing yards in a season behind Barry Sanders (2,628), Melvin Gordon (2,587), Kevin Smith (2,567), and Marcus Allen (2,427). At 5-feet-11, 220 lbs., Penny just so happens to be nearly the same size as Kareem Hunt, who was taken in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Hunt, of course, led the entire NFL in rushing this past season and I would not be surprised at all if Penny was top 10 next season as a rookie.
Now, let me be clear about one thing. I DO NOT believe the Lions absolutely MUST get a running back in the offseason. In fact, I still believe that Ameer Abdullah can be a solid NFL back IF he has an offensive line to block for him. That being said, Bob Quinn has said he plans to add help to the Lions running back stable and Penny would be a steal in the 3rd Round, especially since he improved his stock with a stellar Senior Bowl week.
ROUND 4- D.J. Reed (CB) – Kansas State
When it comes to the Detroit Lions secondary, I happen to believe that Darius Slay is the only true starting cornerback the team has. Sure, they have a couple of guys who can provide some depth but adding another cornerback should be part of the Lions plan this offseason. If Bob Quinn does not address the position in free agency, D.J. Reed will be perfect if he is still around in the 4th Round.
At just 5-feet-9, many will argue that Reed is too small for the next level and it’s exactly that thought that may allow him to fall to the later rounds. He certainly plays bigger than his size and he has a knack for breaking up passes, as highlighted by his 25 passes defended over his two seasons at KSU.
ROUND 5- Mason Cole (C) – Michigan
As noted, the Detroit Lions absolutely MUST improve their offensive line this offseason. Whether Bob Quinn addresses it through free agency, through the NFL Draft, or through a combination of both, it has to happen. If things play out perfectly and the Lions grab Billy Price in Round 2, Mason Cole could be a nice complement in Round 5.
Though he started off playing tackle for the Wolverines, Cole eventually slid over to center and that seems to be his best fit at the next level. I would not expect Cole to start for the Lions right off the bat but he could be a good depth player and eventually start at center sooner than later, especially if Price works out at guard.