As expected, an abundance of mock drafts and prospect-rating lists have emerged upon the conclusion of Super Bowl XLVIII. Fans around the league will have to wait a little longer than usual to see who their team’s will select in the 2014 NFL Draft, which will take place on May 8-10. This only means that there is even more time for teams, fans, and experts alike to change their opinion about the future NFL players.
Year in and year out, the time period lasting from the end of the Super Bowl until the regular season kicks off is (unofficially) officially the happiest time of year for Detroit Lions’ fans and this year is no exception. The direction of the team has been established (as far away from the Jim Schwartz-era as possible) and now it is time to take a look at what collegiate players can help bring the Lions back into the playoffs.
Of course, many changes will take place once the free agency period begins (March 11) and the Lions’ official draft needs will adapt to whatever transpires during that time. Now, here is my first mock draft of who the Lions will take in rounds 1-3 of May’s draft.
Note: Considerations are based off the assumption that Joique Bell, Dominic Raiola, and Brandon Pettigrew will return next season.
Round 1, Pick 10
Darqueze Dennard, Cornerback – Michigan State
It is no secret that the Lions are in need of a lot of help at the cornerback position. On average Detroit nearly gave up 250 passing yards per game last season, making them the 10th worst passing defense in the league. There is a lot of debate over who will be the top corner selected and if there is any corner that is worthy of being a top-10 selection. Dennard plays very aggressive and has great man-to-man cover skills, but the Michigan State product will need to prove that he has the speed it takes to play at a high level on Sunday’s.
Notables – Mike Evans, Wide Receiver (Texas A&M) and Justin Gilbert, Cornerback (Oklahoma State)
Round 2, Pick 13
Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver – Vanderbilt
Matthews, who is 6-foot-3, would be the perfect fit to line up opposite of Calvin Johnson. Detroit needs to add another threat at the receiver position; a guy who can take over a game if opposing defenses take Megatron out of the picture. The Lions’ offense struggled to move the ball when Johnson wasn’t a factor, Matthews is a guy who can go out and get ten catches a game (206 receptions over the past two seasons). As long as Detroit addresses their cornerback need in the first round, this is the guy they should set their sights on in the second round.
Notables – Brandin Cooks, Wide Receiver (Oregon State) and Kyle Fuller, Cornerback (Virginia Tech)
Round 3, Pick 12
Travis Swanson, Center – Arkansas
Whether or not Dominic Raiola returns next season, the Lions will need to eventually fill his position. I believe that Detroit will reach a short-term deal in order to bring back the 13-year veteran, who just had the best season of his career. Pro Football Focus rated Raiola the second-best center in the league this past season and his locker-room presence is invaluable during Detroit’s transitional period. However, Swanson’s draft stock is currently on the rise and he could jump up to the first or second round, but for now he would make a great third-round pick.
Notables – Dion Bailey, Safety (USC) and Devon Kennard, Defensive End/OLB (USC)
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