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Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay Differ on Detroit Lions’ Potential First Round Picks in April

February 7th, 2014 at 11:27 AM
By Max DeMara

It's the debate that many, including ESPN's own funny man Frank Caliendo, have begun to lampoon. Dueling draft guru's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay rarely can agree on anything, and count the Detroit Lions' needs at the tenth overall pick this April as another significant point of their contention.

'Johnny Manziel 95 Yard TD Pass To Mike Evans Texas A&M v Alabama' photo (c) 2013, Zennie Abraham - license:

In their latest mock draft, Kiper and McShay shared their thoughts on the different directions Detroit may go later this spring. Kiper, for his part, stuck to his guns, pinpointing Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert as the Lions' ideal first choice. It was the same selection he felt Detroit would make the last time he released his mock report.

"Gilbert has some competition to be the first corner taken, but I expect him to put up some pretty impressive numbers at the combine," Kiper said. "He should prove to be a pretty big draw in a league where big corners who can battle at the catch point, but also have elite quickness and speed are coveted. Detroit should get some development at corner on the current roster, but also could face some turnover. They need to place a bet on another young corner or two."

McShay, never one to shy away from a disagreement, thinks the Lions will fill another one of their major needs this offseason by selecting wide receiver Mike Evans from Texas A&M. Evans, with 6-4 size and fantastic hands, has thrived as Johnny Manziel's favorite collegiate target, and could provide the Lions with an excellent option to go opposite Calvin Johnson.

"Evans still has some developing to do as a route runner, and yes, he has some immaturity issues and a tendency to get over emotional," McShay said. "But he is an absolute pitbull on the field and there is no receiver in the draft who is more dangerous when the ball is in the air. Both the tape and the advanced metrics support the case that he is the most proven down the field pass catcher in the 2014 class. The Lions need a difference-maker opposite Calvin Johnson, and Johnson's leadership and experience could be just what Evans needs to avoid early career pitfalls."

As far as targeting for appropriate need, both Kiper and McShay are correct. Detroit's top two needs this offseason seem to be finding an elite corner and getting Matthew Stafford and Johnson some quality help down field. How Detroit chooses to fill those voids, of course, will become the story. Will new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin be content to mine for gold in free agency and the middle rounds, allowing the Lions to select a skill position player in the first round for the first time since Jahvid Best in 2010? Might Jim Caldwell, who seems to favor larger wide outs as ESPN's Michael Rothstein aptly pointed out, pound the table for the gigantic Evans?

In circles not limited to Kiper and McShay, two of the draft's most notable talking heads, it will become the biggest debate the rest of the winter into the spring. For now, there's still a difference of opinion on both accounts.

Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on this site's Twitter @detroitlions101

Tags: Calvin Johnson, Detroit, Detroit Lions, Football, Jim Caldwell, Justin Gilbert, Matthew Stafford, Mel Kiper, Mike Evans, NFL, Teryl Austin, Todd McShay

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