The Detroit Lions currently have the 10th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft on May 8th. We here at cover32.com took it upon ourselves to act as general manager for our respective home town teams last week. We didn’t allow trades in that mock draft and for the Lions, I selected cornerback Justin Gilbert. It was a pick that fits the Lions needs and I was very pleased with it. For the cover32.com 2.0 version of the mock draft we did allow trades though; I proposed a trade and it was accepted, yielding far different results.
When assessing this year’s draft, I felt that there were three players that stood out above the rest. These three players all happen to fit a need for the Lions as well. So, with that in mind, I proposed a trade to the Jacksonville Jaguars to acquire the third pick from them. I did not want to give up extra picks in the 2014 draft though as the Lions need depth, and need inexpensive depth as they have salary cap concerns, at least until the contract of Ndamukong Suh is extended to lower his salary cap number. The contracts of Suh, Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford represent around $50 million during 2014 and are prohibitive to the future at the moment. The Lions though aren’t concerned about the future as head coach Jim Caldwell, general manager Martin Mayhew and president Tom Lewand have super bowl ambitions this year.
So, I offered up the Lions 10th overall pick this year and the Lions 2015 first round choice as well to move up to the third spot in the draft. Wisely, the Jaguars accepted this offer. I believe it works well for both teams as the Jaguars are far further off from reaching the playoffs and it gives them something to look forward to the future with. For the Lions, they believe they are championship bound, and so this helps them get a player that may put them over the top this year, and if it does, they are giving up the 32nd pick in next years draft, not a high first round selection.
The three players I thought were heads and shoulders above the rest in order were as follows:
1. Jadeveon Clowney
2. Khalil Mack
3. Sammy Watkins
Any of the three have the talent to help the Lions instantly become a much better team. Clowney, grouped with last years rookie sacks leader Ziggy Ansah, all-pro Ndamukong Suh and the unpredictable Nick Fairley would create a line that could become one of the most dominant ever. Without him, they are very good, with him, it could mask a lot of the teams other weaknesses. Khalil Mack is a dominant force and may be the best football player in the draft. Mack is ready to control games at linebacker, something the Lions haven’t seen since the days of Chris Speilman, and his overall talent far exceeds what Speilman ever had.
Sammy Watkins ended up being who the Lions got as the third pick in this mock draft though, as the other two were already selected. That means I wasn’t the only one who felt that strongly about Clowney and Mack, but I’m not at all disappointed by getting Watkins. Teamed with Johnson, newly acquired Golden Tate and running backs Joique Bell and Reggie Bush, the Lions and Stafford are loaded. The young and strong offensive line will only look better as opponents will have no idea of who to focus on and the Lions could make the former Rams “greatest show on turf” look like it was standing still.
With Watkins in the fold, the Lions should be able to run up the score and hide their leaky defense. By not trading any of the other 2014 picks, they should be able to provide an impact defensive player or two in the later rounds as well. It’s a career defining choice for Mayhew. With the goals they laid out for themselves, Mayhew and Lewand have to go for broke, and this is the type player to get it done for them. They are sacrificing a bit of the future, but if the Lions don’t go far into the playoffs, those three may not have a future in Detroit. They better hope though that Stafford stays upright and healthy or the loss of backup Shaun Hill might actually loom large over the 2014 season. Regardless of that, the Lions get their man in this mock draft, Sammy Watkins.
Here’s how the whole draft shook out: (READ)