Assessing Draft Wire’s 3-Round Mock Draft
NFL Draft website DraftWire.com released its latest three-round mock draft for the 2020 NFL Draft this week.
Projecting the first four rounds at this juncture is a tough call, but it’s entirely possible to evaluate a franchise’s needs this late in the season.
Additionally, projecting the non-seniors who will declare for the draft isn’t concrete.
However, similar to assessing a franchise’s needs, it’s easier to assume now -- since college football’s regular season ended -- who of those with eligibility left will elect to forgo their senior seasons.
With the Lions currently sitting at No. 6 overall in the 2020 draft, let’s break down who DraftWire believes the defense-needy franchise will select with its first three picks.
Round 1, Pick 6
Auburn DL Derrick Brown
If Ohio State defensive end Chase Young is the best defensive lineman prospect in the draft, Brown is right behind him.
The Auburn product was named a first-team All-American by Pro Football Focus for his 2019 season.
With an upside higher than the ceiling, Brown can be a dominant interior lineman that Detroit uses not only in the run game -- like Damon Harrison -- but also in rushing the quarterback.
Per PFF, Brown tallied 34 total pressures, five sacks, 10 QB hits and 19 hurries while batting four passes down at the line in 2019. He also made 34 defensive stops and 41 total tackles without a single missed tackle attempt.
Verdict: Detroit would be taking the best player available should Brown be taken, as edge rusher, linebacker and cornerback are all bigger needs. However, Brown has that “it factor” that makes him impossible to pass up in this spot.
Other options: Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah was taken by the Falcons with the pick before Detroit’s. Should he be on the board when the Lions select, then taking him is a must. With the 30th-ranked passing defense in the NFL and Darius Slay being vocal with his displeasure in Motown, selecting a cornerback in the first two rounds would be wise. Otherwise, Iowa EDGE rusher A.J. Epenesa, LSU safety Grant Delpit and Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons would all be wise choices with the No. 6 overall pick.
Round 2, Pick 40
Utah CB Jaylon Johnson
If Detroit misses on Okudah, Johnson is as good of a consolation prize as you can ask for.
I absolutely love Utah’s defense and its ability to send successful defensive players to the league.
Johnson is the next of the bunch.
Per PFF, in five of Johnson’s last six regular season games, he allowed five passing yards total.
That’s absurd in the pass-heavy Pac-12.
He’s shot up in other mocks, including PFF’s, which has him landing 24th overall to Minnesota.
Verdict: A first-round talent in the second round is always lovely. A first-round talent in the second round that fills one of your team’s biggest needs? That’s a steal.
Other options: Again, if Johnson’s there, you take him. However, should Detroit already have taken a corner in the first round or should Johnson be off the board, Boise State EDGE defender Curtis Weaver stands out as a guy to take here. An injury sidelined him late in the season, but he will be good to go for the NFL Scouting Combine. Weaver was the most productive pass rusher in the country this season, per PFF. And selecting an EDGE rusher fills the biggest need going into the draft for the Lions.
Round 3, Pick 71
Syracuse EDGE defender Alton Robinson
I’m not high on Detroit waiting until the third round to assess its biggest need.
However, I’m also not big on the Lions ignoring the linebacker position during the first three rounds, unless the LB void is addressed in free agency.
Robinson totaled nine tackles for loss, four sacks and a forced fumble for Syracuse this season.
He’s an aggressive, fast EDGE rusher with a good first step.
However, his development in the league may take time, and Detroit needs help in that department immediately.
His pass-rushing moves are limited to outside, finesse moves, and that’s hindered EDGE-rushing rookies before.
Remember, evolving as a pass rusher does take time at the professional level in some instances.
Verdict: He’s a project, but one worth taking in the third round. I’m not sure he provides the immediate pass-rushing help that Detroit needs, though.
Other options: I absolutely love Cameron Dantzler out of Mississippi State -- the same alma mater as Slay -- and he’s still available at this pick in the DraftWire.com mock draft. He was, however, selected with the very next pick. PFF is currently projecting him as a first rounder, although it's the only site slotting him that high right now. Regardless, if Detroit goes with Brown and an EDGE in the second round, Dantzler would be a wonderful selection here.