Whenever the NFL Combine comes around, it is so easy for scouts and fans to get carried away. The numbers can make us swoon or sour on any given prospect. While a player’s wingspan can give some insight on his potential, the game tape is still the omega to look back at on draft day.
With that said, the Combine is still a great way of separating close-calls. Key position battles across the board were given new light, and so today we take another look at what the Detroit Lions should do in May.
First Round (10)- CB, Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State University
Cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard both impressed last week and have solidified their cases to be top 15 picks. Gilbert has elite measurables and ball-hawking ability, while Dennard is the much more polished prospect. If the Lions feel either of these players can step in and supplant Chris Houston as the team’s top corner, they will rush the pick to the podium.
While Gilbert blew up the Combine, his game tape is way too inconsistent for me. Dennard had superior numbers against short, mid-range and deep passes last season.
Dennard looks flawless on film, and his measurables are near identical to superstar Darrelle Revis’ coming out of college. Still, Dennard’s draft stock has failed to soar to top-ten status because his size, speed and ball-hawking skills are not elite.
Wide receiver Mike Evans is my other front-runner for this spot. His great hands, massive frame and leaping ability would make him an immediate upgrade across the field from Calvin Johnson. If the Lions aren’t convinced by Gilbert or Dennard, look for Evans to be the pick.
If wide receiver Sammy Watkins or linebacker Khalil Mack somehow drops to 10 all bets are off, but I give that about a one percent chance of happening.
Finally, don’t rule out a trade here as this draft is deep at each position the Lions are targeting. If the Lions traded down, tight end Eric Ebron, linebacker C.J. Mosley, wide receiver Marquise Lee and safeties Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would all be strong options.
The Lions’ first pick and the fate of Brandon Pettigrew are huge determinants for how the rest of their draft will go.
Second Round (45)- WR, Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
The Lions are desperate for a second option at wide receiver. Matthews had great college number, but scouts worried about his speed in the NFL. A 4.46 40-time erased many doubts.
It was brought to my attention that Isportsweb’s Jordan Johnson made a mock draft back on February 5 selecting Dennard and Matthews as well. I guess all I can do is tip my hat to his brilliant pre-combine insight.
Honorable mentions: Marcus Roberson (CB), Ryan Shazier (OLB), Kyle Van Noy (OLB)
Third Round (76)- FS, Terrence Brooks, Florida State University
The Lions have to address the free safety position with the recent releasing of Louis Delmas. The All-ACC performer brings blistering speed to the spot with a 4.42 40-time . The additions of Brooks and Dennard could turn the secondary into a strength.
Honorable mentions: Paul Richardson (WR), Martavis Bryant (WR), Ed Reynolds (FS)