The Lions need to improve their linebacking talent and add an edge rusher to pair with Ziggy Ansah. Watt could play linebacker on run downs and rush off the edge in passing situations. Thus, he would help Detroit's defense in two spots.
Watt was one of the breakout players of the 2016 season. He is good at setting the edge in run defense and also is a terror in the pass rush off the edge. Watt recorded 63 tackles with 15.5 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, four passes batted and two forced fumbles in 2016. The 6-foot-4, 252-pounder could be even better as he gains experience. Watt isn't the fastest or most explosive edge defender, but he is tough with advanced technique and a great motor.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State
The Lions could use multiple linebacker upgrades from this draft class.
In 2016, McMillan was solid for Ohio State with 102 tackles, seven for a loss, two sacks, four passes broken up and two forced fumbles. The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder played well in 2015, totaling 119 tackles with 1.5 sacks and four passes broken up on the year. As a freshman in 2014, he played a lot for Ohio State and totaled 54 tackles with 2.5 sacks and a pick-six.
McMillan is a tough defender who has the skill set to be a three-down starter in the NFL. Right now, however, he struggles in pass coverage and needs to improve his ability to drop into coverage. McMillan is a physical, tough run defender at the point of attack.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland
The Lions could use more tight end talent, and Shaheen is a physical freak. He could pair with Eric Ebron and maybe replace him as the feature tight end in Detroit.
Sources say that Shaheen (6-6, 278) is a freak athlete who could be one of the mid-round steals in the 2017 NFL Draft. He was a workout warrior, as expected, but team sources say that his tape showed serious receiving ability for the next level. Even though Shaheen is tall and thick, he has freaky speed and athleticism for such a big tight end. Teams think that Shaheen could be a versatile tight end to create mismatches in the passing game.
Shaheen caught 57 passes for 867 yards with 16 touchdowns in 2016. The previous season, he had 70 receptions for 803 yards and 10 touchdowns. Some team sources even compared Shaheen to Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin
Ameer Abdullah has been a disappointment thus far for the Lions. Even if he turns it on in Year 3, Detroit could use a power runner to pair with him.
Clement averaged 4.4 yards per carry in 2016 for 1,375 yards with 15 touchdowns. He had 12 receptions for 132 yards as well. Clement (5-10, 221) had a respectable showing at the Senior Bowl as he was a physical downhill runner.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Nate Gerry, S, Nebraska
The Lions could use some more safety depth as both of their starters will be free agents after the 2018 season.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Zach Pascal, WR, Old Dominion
The Lions could use some receiver depth, and Pascal could be a steal.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Jeremiah Valoaga, DE/TE, UNLV
The Lions grab a late-round sleeper they've shown interest in.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Grover Stewart, DT, Albany State
The Lions add more defensive tackle talent with a player they hosted.
Again, I can see a lot of running backs being taken sooner than normal due to their high talent, but could also see them slide as teams go after positions with less talented depth. For the Lions though they should just take the best back available at this juncture since it is a disservice to Matthew Stafford by how bad their running game has been. How could your last 100 yard rusher be a washed up Reggie Bush a year away from retirement. If they can find a guy who can run the ball consistently for Stafford to allow them to have a more balanced offense he could maybe bring this team on a nice playoff run. Guice would be a first rounder had he put up better numbers, but LSU's offense was so inept that it dragged him down as well. He displays good balance, vision, and speed that has me thinking he could be better long term than his former teammate Leonard Fournette. Especially, since Guice does not go out looking for contact like Fournette is.
Last Mock Pick: Tremaine Edmunds LB Virginia Tech
The Lions could use more edge-rush and defensive line talent. Detroit also has shown a lot of interest in Landry.<br> <br>
Landry is a fast edge rusher who would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. In 2017, the senior totaled 38 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks and two passes broken up. He was manhandled by Notre Dame, struggling against a freshman right tackle and, on a few snaps, against left tackle Mike McGlinchey. Landry was moderately better, but still underwhelming, against Clemson. He then missed the final five games of 2017 with an ankle injury. <br> <br>
The 6-foot-2, 252-pound Landry had an impressive junior season as an edge rusher for Boston College, recording 16.5 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss, seven forced fumbles, four passes batted and 51 tackles. He contributed as a sophomore with 60 stops and 4.5 sacks.
The Lions grab an end to go opposite of Ziggy Ansah, and if Ansah isn't re-signed, defensive end will be a huge need. <br> <br>
Davenport (6-5, 259) possesses an excellent skill set with speed and agility. He has length and athleticism to play on the edge in the NFL, but needs to learn more pass-rushing moves. In 2017, Davenport notched 55 tackles with 17.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, four passes batted and three forced fumbles. He totaled 6.5 sacks as a junior after notching four as a sophomore. <br> <br>
Edge defenders with length, quickness, and athleticism are always in demand, so Davenport could go in the first round in a weak year at defensive end. Scouts from multiple teams have told me that Davenport is a good player and impressed them in 2017, but they thought the top 16 is too high for him. They think the back half of Round 1 is possible.
The Lions could use more interior defensive line talent, and Bryan would give them a three-technique to pair with A'Shawn Robinson. Sources told me that Lions general manager Dan Quinn was at the Florida pro day to watch Bryan, and taking Bryan would fit with Quinn's other early-round picks. <br> <br>
Bryan (6-5, 291) broke out in 2017 with 40 tackles with six tackles for a loss and four sacks. In speaking with some scouting sources, Bryan has drawn comparisons to the Chiefs' Chris Jones or the Broncos' Derek Wolfe. Some announcers have compared the 6-foot-4, 295-pound Bryan to J.J. Watt, and in terms of style of play, Bryan is reminiscent of Watt, although not consistently. Bryan has a tremendous get-off with serious explosion off the snap. He also has developed strength with active hands to shed blocks. Given his length, Bryan can play end or tackle, plus is an ideal candidate for five-technique.
I heard from sources weeks early that Bryan was going to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft, and scouting contacts project him to the first or second round. Bryan is a great athlete who is big, strong, fast and agile. He had a late start in football, however, from growing up in Wyoming, and that showed up in him never demonstrating good instincts. Bryan is inconsistent while lacking feel and pass-rushing moves. Considering his late start in football, he would have likely been better off in his long-term football career to return to school and gain playing experience before going to the NFL and taking on pro offensive linemen. Some team sources have told me they were grading Bryan as a second-rounder, but think he could end up being a first-round pick because of his great skill set, which is expected to shine in pre-draft workouts.
The Lions were nearly a playoff team last year living off the arm of superstar quarterback Matthew Stafford. That's basically how this team has rolled in recent years, which may lead one to believe that a running back like Derrius Guice or Sony Michele might be the selection here in order to have a more balanced offense. With the addition of LeGarrette Blount, though, the team has more than enough bodies at the position to start looking for the answer in the first round of this draft. Detroit has a pretty stacked offense in reality with the trios of receivers Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay and offensive linemen Taylor Decker, TJ Lang, and Ricky Wagner. General Manager Bob Quinn and new head coach Matt Patricia would be better off selecting a player on the defensive side of the ball. Patricia should be looking for a high impact player for him to mold his defensive scheme around.
The Lions have ran a 4-3 defense for what seems like forever, but with Patricia at the helm Detroit will run a hybrid defense imploring many different looks, including 3-4 and nickel bases most likely based on the opponent. Therefore, a trait that the team will be valuing is position versatility. The team already has an elite pass rusher in Ziggy Ansah when healthy, but lack doing so otherwise, so look for them to target somebody who can get after the opposing quarterback. In free agency, Detroit brought in linebackers Christian Jones and Devon Kennard to help 2017 first round pick Jarrad Davis. Additionally, veteran Deshawn Shead was signed to shore up a talented secondary. Even with the addition of former first round bust defensive tackle Sylvester Williams, I believe defensive tackle has to be the target with no worthy edge rushers available at this point in the draft.
Da'Ron Payne is 6'2" and 311 pounds and came on late for the 2017 National Champions Alabama Crimson Tide, especially in the title game against the Georgia Bulldogs. Payne recorded 53 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 interception this past season after recording 36 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks the year before alongside Washington Redskin defensive end Jonathan Allen. Payne has the versatility to play as a 3-4 defensive end or a 4-3 defensive tackle and could eat up a lot of offensive linemen alongside former Bama defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson. Payne is a bit of a project with high upside, as he can disappear for long stretches at a time, but I'm sure that is exactly what Patricia is looking to develop to get the best out of his players just as he did in New England.
Show/Hide Other Mocks with Da'Ron Payne Going to Lions
Rd. 1, Pk. 20
Frank Ragnow, G/C
That sound you hear is the collective hearts of the Bengals' front office breaking upon learning about this pick. Frank Ragnow was set to go 21st overall, but the Lions also needed a center, so they snatched the Arkansas product off the board.
This is a solid pick. Ragnow is a terrific center who didn't surrender a single sack last year playing in the SEC. He fills a huge need, which the Lions had after losing Travis Swanson in free agency.
Rd. 2, Pk. 11
Kerryon Johnson, RB
Still no Derrius Guice? The Lions taking Kerryon Johnson makes more sense than Guice because of their scheme, plus he's a better fit for the type of player the Bill Belichick tree likes. Johnson will mesh well with Matthew Stafford, as he'll be a big weapon out of the backfield, catching all of the passes thrown at or behind the line of scrimmage, a staple of Detroit's offense. I'm not sure the Lions had to trade up for Johnson, but I like this pick.
Rd. 3, Pk. 18
Tracy Walker, S
THE GHOST OF MILLEN STRIKES AGAIN Grade
Ladies and gentlemen, our first Millen pick of the second day of the draft! Tracy Walker is a late-round prospect with good instincts, but he seems more like a special-teams player. The Lions almost certainly could have gotten Walker in the fourth or even fifth rounds.
Rd. 4, Pk. 14
Da'Shawn Hand, DE
The Lions just gave New England's third-round pick for this selection. Da'Shawn Hand better be worth it. He's a great fit for Detroit's new defense under Matt Patricia, but I don't think I would've dealt a 2019 third-rounder for him. There are some decent five-techniques still available, so this almost seemed like a panic move after the Lions failed to address their defensive line earlier.
Rd. 5, Pk. 16
Tyrell Crosby, OT
The Lions had major problems whenever one of their tackles went down with an injury, so they had to find a solid reserve. Tyrell Crosby could end up being more than solid. He was a second-day prospect who would've gone much earlier if it weren't for some concussion concerns. Those might re-surface, but the fifth round is a nice time to take a chance.
Rd. 7, Pk. 19
Nick Bawden, FB
A smart player and a stellar blocker, Nick Bawden will help inject some life into Detroit's dead running game. Kerryon Johnson has to be thrilled about this pick, and I happen to think that it deserves an "A" grade.