After the Detroit Lions completed the first major step in their offseason plan by hiring Jim Caldwell, quickly, the focus is once again shifting to on-field personnel. As always, that means it's time to delve into some way-too-early mock drafts.
Despite the early nature of reports, it seems many experts figure the Lions will go defense with the 10th overall pick, and specifically, address a needy defensive backfield. Considering new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has a penchant for working with and developing young backfield talent, it would make sense if the Lions decided to find some help at cornerback.
Other than a few outlying selections of wide receivers, most see Detroit going with defense early in the 2014 draft. Here's the first of many bi-monthly mock rundowns leading up to April's big night and weekend.
ESPN: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State. Mel Kiper has the Lions taking Gilbert, a Cowboy cornerback, with the 10th overall pick. The reasoning? Detroit's defensive line can wreak havoc, but that won't matter if the team still cannot cover down field. Gilbert's size and speed would help him cover anyone, and additionally, he has strong return skills.
Fox Sports: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State. Peter Schrager agrees with Kiper, saying the Lions will pick up a defensive back, Unlike Kiper, however, Schrager sends Dennard to Detroit, a local product from Michigan State. As Schrager says, Dennard has the physicality to go toe to toe with some of the bigger wide receivers in the division such as Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey, and would fix a secondary held together with Scotch tape and hope the past few seasons. Well said.
Football's Future: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon. A bit of a surprise to see Ekpre-Olomu crack the top ten, but as is written, he's a player with excellent ball skills that is a solid cover corner. That combination certainly would help the Lions in their quest to bring some long awaited stability into their defensive backfield.
NFL.com: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M. With the first offensive entrant, Daniel Jeremiah pencils the Lions in with Evans, a dynamic wide receiver who was Johnny Manziel's favorite target while in Texas. Jeremiah doesn't provide a write up, but it's safe to assume he, like plenty of others, desperately wants the Lions to find a target to utilize opposite Calvin Johnson. Considering his solid 2013 season, Evans could be that guy.
CBS Sports: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State. There's no early disagreement between Rob Rang and Dane Brugler, both of whom send Dennard to the Lions. As the others said, upgrades in the defensive backfield might become paramount for Detroit early due to the big plays the secondary has given up over the past few seasons.
Sports Illustrated Audibles: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson. If Chris Burke's selection of Watkins at pick 10 came true in April, it would likely set off a firestorm of excitement amongst Lions' fans. As far as wide receiving options go, many have set their eyes on Watkins since his big performance in the Orange Bowl, and view him as the ideal option to pair with Johnson. Hard to imagine him lasting until selection 10, but if it happens, count on the Lions to snap him up.
Mocks Projecting Defense: 4
Mocks Projecting Offense: 2
Positional Target Breakdown: Cornerback, Wide Receiver
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