This is a pivotal year for the Detroit Lions in many respects.
Martha Ford has basically stated to Bob Quinn and Matt Patrica need to get the Lions to the playoffs. And not just a one and done like it has been since 1991. All the Lions did for each of those eight times was come in as a wild card team. And every Lions fan knows how the Lions are on the road.
This mock draft is just my opinion is what will get the Lions to the playoffs. This draft does not contain any trade scenarios and assumes none will be made.
Round 1 – Pick 3
Isaiah Simmons – Linebacker, Clemson 6’4, 230 lbs.
Everyone raise your hand if you remember just how many times tight ends just absolutely shredded the Lions defense. Simmons solves so many issues on defense, it’s like getting two players for the price of one. His football IQ is off the charts, his man-to-man coverage skills is tremendous and will be able to handle 99% of the tight ends in the NFL. He is one of the most dynamic athletes of this entire draft class. He is a game-changing player the Lions so desperately need on defense and can be the pivotal chess piece in weekly defensive game plans.
Round 2 – Pick 3
Jeff Gladney – Cornerback, TCU 6’0, 183 lbs.
Lions did sign Desmond Trufant to replace Darius Slay and given the 2-year, $21 million dollar contract, he was brought in to start. Gladney will get playing time and learn from Trufant and could even become a starter opposite Trufant. Gladney has lightning quick footwork, his transitions are rapid and changing directions is fluid. He his best in man coverage and will need to improve his zone abilities in order to secure a starting job. But with the signing of Trufant, Gladney can watch and learn and most likely will pick up on the nuances of the game quickly.
Round 3 – Pick 3
Robert Hunt – Offensive Lineman , Louisiana 6’5″, 386 lbs.
Hunt is a powerful, nasty offensive lineman who has a strong record of success in the run-heavy offense at Louisiana. He can play either tackle spots or either guard spots so his versatility will be a huge asset. He isn’t a blocker satisfied with keeping his man in front of him, he wants to take it to the next level and leave a dent whoever he is blocking. Would be a valuable player at either of the guard spots.
Round 3 – Pick 21
A.J. Dillon – Running Back, Boston College 6’0″ 250 lbs.
Lions have pretty good depth at running back with Kerryon Johnson, Bo Scarborough, Ty Johnson and Wes Hills. But none of these running backs have been reliable. And I’m not so sure that’s a term that gives anyone warm and fuzzy feelings when drafting a player. But Dillon is an absolute load to bring down and reminds me of Derrick Henry of the Titans. He is a brute of a runner who will physically challenge defenders. He projects as a gap/power rusher and is at his best as a deep set back who can gain momentum working into the point of attack and burst through a hole.
Round 4 – Pick 3
Jonathan Garvin – Edge Rusher, Miami 6’4″, 250 lbs.
Garvin is a long and smooth to go along with his fluidity in the first three steps of his rush to set things up. He is able to work around the outside of offensive tackles. He does need to dedicate himself to the weight room to increase his strength. Putting him on the line with Trey Flowers and Danny Shelton will limit teams on who they can double team.
Round 5 – Pick 3
Collin Johnson – Wide Receiver, Texas 6’6″, 221 lbs
A big physical wide receiver and has good overall athleticism. Will win contested passes more often than not, using his length and catch radius. Has good speed on 8 and 9 routes and displays good tracking ability to locate the ball. Uses his big body to catch the ball while absorbing contact and makes difficult catches at critical times. Imagine a 4 wide receiver set with Golladay on wide side, Johnson on the other with Amendola and Marvin Hall in the slots. No way to double any of them and you can keep the running back in for protection. I like that scenario.
Round 5 – Pick 20
Jordan Fuller – Free Safety, Ohio State 6’2″, 205 lbs.
While he doesn’t have speed to make up for misses, he is physical and aggressive playing downhill. He can take on tight ends (while Simmons goes after the passer), is a good tackler and has a great reputation for character and leadership. He is a sledgehammer when he catches a player flush…a blue collar, hard effort player that will endear him to Lions fans.
Round 6 – Pick 3
Benito Jones – Defensive Tackle, Ole Miss 6’1″, 321 lbs
Danny Shelton isn’t going to be able to take every single snap and Benito Jones offers some intriguing talents. He’s a good hand fighter and is able to slip blocks in short spaces. He’s not going to get a ton of sacks but he does occupy a lot space that allows others to get to the quarterback. But imagine in some scenario where both he and Shelton or inside along with Flowers and Garvin on the outside, not to mention Simmons perhaps being free to do what he does best. This gives the Lions chances to show different alinements to opposing teams and force them to react to the Lions defense rather than the Lions reacting to offenses.
Round 7 – Pick 21
Steven Gonzalez – Guard, Penn State 6’4″, 341 lbs
This is a very big man. Gonzalez has a powerful lower half and is able to reset the line of scrimmage against head up defenders. Well build and uses his natural strength to go toe to toe with defensive tackles. Also has the ability to re-anchor after absorbing initial blows to maintain space for the quarterback to work. Put him on the opposite side of Hunt (386 lbs.) and next to Ragnow (311 lbs.) and you have 1,038 lbs. of nastiness that defenses have to try and get through. I’m pretty sure the run game will improve!
Now I know there will be a lot of disagreements with this mock draft. But I did watch a lot of film, did a huge amount of reading and tried to stay away from folks trying to influence me to take Chase Young, Derrick Brown or Jeff Okudah with the first pick. And while each of these players are good in their own right, I think that Isiah Simmons can do for the Lions what Ray Lewis did for the Baltimore Ravens.