The Detroit Lions were looking like they could be one of the up-and-coming sleeper Super Bowl candidates in the NFC until the 2012 season happened. Detroit returned to its inconsistent ways, and through injuries and no true “finisher” mentality, the Lions have wound up picking in the top five yet again.
This is not to say the team is devoid of talent, though. The Lions have a ton of really good players at different positions, but they really re-tooled in free agency. Specifically, the Lions went out and got running back Reggie Bush, safety Glover Quin, and defensive end Jason Jones, all on really reasonable contracts. They were also able to re-sign safety Louis Delmas and cornerback Chris Houston. I thought the Lions were one of the winners of free agency, though losing Cliff Avril could hurt them a bit.
Here is a four-round mock draft that I think could really help the Lions get back in the playoff hunt.
1. First Round, 5th overall: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Here, the Lions would be taking a kid who is a local product and a guy who is being given consideration for the number one overall pick. Fisher has displayed excellent feet, strength, and he looks like he could be a future left tackle in the NFL. The Lions have a former first round pick in Riley Reiff slated to start at either right tackle, left tackle, or even guard has been thrown around, so I think Fisher could fit in where Reiff does not. He would either be the Lions’ starting left or right tackle on opening day, and could help keep Matthew Stafford from getting grass in his facemask all season. The Lions do have options with this pick, like a pass rusher or cornerback, but Fisher would undoubtedly be the safest pick and probably the top player on the board at this point.
2. Second Round, 36th overall: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
The Lions have been no strangers to selecting players with character flaws, and Montgomery could be a really nice steal for then in the second round. He is a guy who could come off the edge with power and put pressure on the quarterback, as well as making plays behind the line of scrimmage with relative ease if he gives his maximum effort. That has been a question mark surrounding Montgomery of late, so I think teams will be wary, but the Lions have a big need at this position and this could be a great value in the second round. Montgomery would be made even more effective by the play of Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh on the inside.
3. Third Round, 65th overall: Robert Alford, CB, Southeastern Louisiana
Alford is a guy who has excellent athletic ability and has risen to the top five of Mel Kiper Jr’s quarterback rankings. The Lions went after some mid-round corners last year as well, but this is still a position of need. I think Alford is a guy who gives them an option in the slot or on the outside. He is athletic enough to cover any type of receiver, and quick enough to hang with some of the best slot receivers in the league. He will take some time adjusting to the speed of the NFL, but I think he could be a really solid value pick for them at the top end of the third round.
4. Fourth Round, 132nd overall: Cornelius Washington, DE, Georgia
With their compensatory pick in the fourth round, I think the Lions look to some upside. As I mentioned before, they have a need in the pass rush department. They were able to get Sam Montgomery early in this mock, and with this pick, they go straight upside. Washington had just half a sack last year but was playing out of position, and has phenomenal speed and strength. He is an athletic specimen who would be a good value in this round, because there is little risk and a lot of reward involved. I think this would be a nice selection for the Lions.