Wednesday Breakfast with Tim and Mike: Have the mock drafts been on target?

Posted Mar 6, 2013

Tim and Mike discuss how they see the top picks shaking out in the NFL Draft, and who they think the Detroit Lions could take at No. 5

Mock drafts are sprouting up everywhere, and opinions are divided about the order of picks at the top of the draft. That includes the Lions, who have the fifth pick.

Are the mock drafts on target, close to having it right, or are they way off?

Mike: I think I know which way our conversation is going to go on this week’s breakfast – scrambled eggs with hot sauce. Just don’t throw the knives and forks. I like the Lions to take a pass-rusher, and my Mock 5 draft this week has them going with Dion Jordan in the first round. I also like Barkevious Mingo as a possibility.

I doubt that you agree.

Am I right – at least about the part about you not agreeing with me?

Tim: That's usually a safe assumption.

I agree with you that defensive end might turn out to be a pretty big need; I'm just not sold on this group of pass rushers at No. 5. I think there are a lot of question marks surrounding the group.

There are some terrific athletic talents, like Jordan, but is he an outside linebacker in a 3-4 or a 4-3-rush end? If it's the latter, he'll need to gain some muscle to his frame at under 250 pounds. He told both of us at the NFL Combine that he feels much more comfortable as a stand-up rusher in a 3-4, which is what he did at Oregon.

Ziggy Ansah

What about a guy like Ziggy Ansah? The guy is a freakish athlete, but he's been playing football for the better part of two years. Will he be ready to contribute in 2013 or 2014?

Bjoern Werner looks like he'll be a good pro for a long time, but is he a 15-sack-a-year type of guy? I'm not sold on that yet.

There aren't a lot of athletic 300-pound men walking the face of the earth and if you're the Lions and you can get one at No. 5, I think it allows the team to be very versatile with offensive line groupings -- a group that we can probably both agree needs to get better.

I will say this, though, I read your mock draft and you had both Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher gone before No. 5. If that's the case, then I say best defensive player available and I wouldn't be mad at them if that's ultimately a defensive end.

Mike: In a nice way, sort of, you seem to be telling me I’m nuts for going with a pass-rusher. Nothing against Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel. Both can step in as starting offensive left tackles and stay there for a long time. I want more impact with the fifth pick, and a tackle doesn’t add that.

I’m intrigued by Ansah, like most people, because of his storyline and his athletic ability. But he’s not the most athletic outside pass-rusher.

Let me throw this back at you: would an offensive tackle provide the impact the Lions need, or would it qualify as a safe pick?

Tim: That’s a good question. I personally think it satisfies both.

It’s safe in that there are few question marks regarding both players at No. 5. Both seem to be legitimate starting-caliber left tackles.

The impact comes from the fact that it allows the Lions to be more versatile with a player like Riley Reiff and move him over to the right side at either guard or tackle.

By selecting Joeckel or Fisher, they’ve found their replacement for Jeff Backus, whether that’s immediately or in 2014. In the same move, the Lions just secured the long-term future of  both sides of their offensive line. I think they’ve upgraded, as well.

I know two guys who’ll give big thumbs up to that one – Matthew Stafford and Mikel Leshoure.

That’s the impact.

What about Dee Milliner? Where does he fit into the equation if he’s on the board?

The unofficial fan poll (i.e. my Twitter account) seems to favor the Alabama cornerback among Lions fans.

Mike: All good points about the tackles, and Milliner would be a good pick, too. There are six to eight players who could be drafted in the fifth spot, and there would be logic for each one. The same for trading down, to add picks, although trading from No. 5 won’t bring the windfall some might think.

The Lions’ problems are so much more severe on defense than offense that they have to look harder at that side of the ball. Look at the lost leads late in games last year – to the Titans, Packers, Texans, Colts, Packers again. One or two defensive stops, and the season could have been different.

Make a stop, turn the ball over to the offense, Stafford kneels down three times in the “Victory Formation,” and he’ll give a big thumbs up as he jogs to the locker room.

You agree now, right?

Tim: I’m not that easy.

I will agree that the defensive needs help. We both can see that. That side of the ball needs at least two additional playmakers and one of their young players to be better than expected.

But to your point about the defense giving up late leads, if I remember correctly, I believe the offense had a chance to clinch almost all of those games the possession before with either a sustained drive (i.e. running game) or scoring a touchdown instead of a field goal.

I know that’s being picky, but the offense dropped the proverbial ball their fair share of time, too.

I’d love to see the Lions get a young playmaker on defense at No. 5; I just fear that identifying that player isn’t as much of a slam dunk as it’s been in year’s past.

What about some of the Lions’ young players on defense currently on the roster? We talk so much about free agency and the draft, could a playmaker come from within with one of these young players? Any candidates?

Mike: Unless one of the young players makes a quantum leap, there are more role players emerging than blue chip playmakers. For example, I don’t see the next Cliff Avril, or someone to make the impact Louis Delmas has when healthy. They aren’t star players, either, but they’ve produced as Lions.

Chris Greenwood, the defensive back drafted last year who spent his rookie season on injured reserve, is a terrific athlete, but he’s still jumping from Albion to the NFL and hasn’t played a snap in any kind of game – exhibition or regular season.

One position we haven’t talked about is free-agency, which starts on Tuesday.

Should the Lions rush to sign Reggie Bush? Or do you see other needs that are more important?

Tim: Bush fits the mold of exactly what they’re looking for.

They want a change-of-pace back who can provide the home-run for an offense that had a whopping four runs of 20-plus yards in 2012.

The Lions also want a good receiver out of the backfield who can win one-on-one matchups with linebackers.

Bush fits all of that.

I think it makes ever more sense because they have Leshoue and Joique Bell, so Bush won’t be an every-down back at age 28.

But the price has to be right to me. If they can get him for under $5 million per season, then I think it makes sense. It makes more sense at around $3 to $3.5 million per season, in my opinion.