Mocking the Draft: Should Lions Trade Down?

Resident draft expert Josh Liskiewitz forecasts a draft that involves Detroit trading its pick.

Every week leading up to the draft I will publish a new, first round mock draft.  Each week’s mock will focus on a different scenario. Last week, I offered a baseline projection (read).

This week, we evaluate a trade scenario involving the Lions and Seattle Seahawks.

 Josh Liskiewitz's Detroit Lions Top 25 list: 
Elite Prospects 
1.      Da’Quan Bowers, DE Clemson 
2.      Patrick Peterson, CB LSU 
3.      Cameron Jordan, DE California 
4.      AJ Green, WR Georgia 
5.      Von Miller, OLB Texas A&M 
Top 15 Caliber Prospects 
6.      Jimmy Smith, CB Colorado 
7.      Prince Amukamara, DB Nebraska 
8.      Robert Quinn, DE North Carolina 
10.    Nick Fairley, DT Auburn 
Late 1st Round Prospects 
11.     Jabaal Sheard, DE Pittsburgh 
12.     Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue 
13.     Julio Jones, WR Alabama 
14.     Corey Liuget, DT Illinois 
15.     Leonard Hankerson, WR Miami 
16.     Rodney Hudson, OL Florida State 
17.     Stefan Wisniewski, OC Penn State 
18.     Jerrel Jernigan, WR Troy 
19.     Tyron Smith, OT USC 
21.     Bruce Carter, OLB North Carolina 
22.     Nate Solder, OT Colorado 
Early 2nd Round Prospects 
23.     Danny Watkins, OG Baylor 
24.     Ras-I Dowling, DB Virginia 

Mock Draft 2.0: When to Trade Down

1.   Carolina Panthers                        Da’Quan Bowers, DE Clemson (6-4 280)

Last week I had Carolina taking Auburn DT Nick Fairley because he is the best player at a position of need.  This week the Panthers opt for the best player in the draft, regardless of positional need.

2.   Denver Broncos                           Marcell Dareus, DT Alabama (6-2 ½ 305)

While I will not list Dareus amongst my first round prospects until I am able to watch more of him on film, I am becoming more and more convinced that he will be a top 15 selection.  Denver needs help all over the place, particularly on their defensive line.  Here they take Dareus over Fairley, opting for the “safer” pick of the two.

3.   Buffalo Bills                                 Nick Fairley, DT Auburn (6-4 311)

Unconvinced that QB Cam Newton is the leader the franchise needs, the Bills instead choose Newton’s college teammate, the explosive and nasty Fairley.

4.   Cincinnati Bengals                       AJ Green, WR Georgia (6-4 207)

No change here.  Mike Brown is sticking with Carson Palmer at QB (whether Palmer likes it or not), but at least he is getting an elite playmaker to work with.

5.   Arizona Cardinals                        Von Miller, OLB Texas A&M (6-2 5/8 237)

This week the top 3-4 OLB prospect drops to Arizona, and they waste no time turning in Miller’s name.  He is the perfect compliment to second year OLB O’Brien Schofield, and has the versatility to be effective not only as a pass rusher, but against the run and in pass coverage as well.

6.   Cleveland Browns                        Robert Quinn, DE North Carolina (6-5 270)

The Browns are in desperate need of pass rushers as they transition from the 3-4 to the 4-3 on defense, and Quinn is a perfect fit for what they need.  He has the potential to become one of the top RDEs in the league over time.

7.   San Francisco 49ers                     Patrick Peterson, CB LSU (6-1 210)

The 49ers need an upgrade at CB, and in this scenario luck out with the top corner falling to them at #7.  Peterson should not only be a day one starter at corner, but the primary returnman for San Francisco as well.

8.   Tennessee Titans             Prince Amukamara, DB Nebraska (6-1 205)

While the Titans have their choice of QBs in this scenario, they surprise by taking Amukamara instead.  Tennessee has needs at both corner and safety, and Amukamara could long term project to either position.

9.   Dallas Cowboys               Anthony Castonzo, OT Boston College (6-7 1/8 305)

Castonzo is the best offensive lineman in the draft, and would be a day one starter at RT for Dallas.  He could eventually supplant Doug Free as the Cowboys’ starter at LT.

10.Washington Redskins      Jake Locker, QB Washington (6-2 ¼ 228)

While Blaine Gabbert, considered my many (including myself) to be the top QB in the draft is still available, Mike Shanahan is enamored with Locker’s arm strength and upside.

11.Houston Texans               Jimmy Smith, CB Colorado (6-2 3/8 205)

Kareem Jackson struggled throughout his rookie year in Houston, and the Texans still need to upgrade their secondary.  Smith is the best DB left on the board, and the only one remaining worthy of this high a selection.

12.Minnesota Vikings          Cameron Jordan, DE California (6-4 1/8 287)

While in need of a QB, Minnesota is not sold on any of the candidates available as being sure fire franchise caliber prospects.  They instead opt for Jordan, who is the perfect replacement at LDE for the departing Ray Edwards.

This is essentially a worst case scenario for Detroit.  All of the elite and top 15 caliber prospects are off the board.  At this point if Detroit keeps pick #13 it will be reaching for a lower value player like Pittsburgh DE Jabaal Sheard, Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan, or even USC OT Tyron Smith.            

The other option for Detroit is to trade back and acquire more picks (while normally current NFL players could be involved as well, they are harder to project, and more importantly if the league is still in lockout mode current NFL players may not be allowed to be involved in draft day trades).  While each draft day trade differs from the next in terms of determining compensation, for our purposes we will utilize the modified version of Jimmy Johnson’s Draft Trade Chart, as seen at ProFootballTalk. 

In order to trade back, Detroit needs not only a trade partner, but players that other teams will feel are worthy of trading up for.  In this scenario, the only QB taken thus far is Washington’s Jake Locker, and teams in need of a new signal caller could be clamoring for a chance to take either Blaine Gabbert of Missouri, or Cam Newton from Auburn.  Looking at the remaining teams drafting in the first round, the only two that could be targeting a QB are Miami (currently picking 15th) and Seattle (picking 25th).  According to the Draft Trade Chart linked above, Detroit is not likely to get better than an extra 4thround pick for swapping firsts with Miami.  Seattle is the most logical dance partner, as Detroit would still have a first round pick, and require significantly more compensation from the Seahawks than they would from Miami. 

The chart lists the difference between picks 13 and 25 as 430 points.  Seattle owns pick #57 in the second round, which is worth 330 points.  Seattle also owns pick #98 in the 4thround, and while this is almost the exact remaining compensation Detroit needs going strictly by the chart (#98 is worth 108 points), the Seahawks are unlikely to give up their only other pick before the 5thround.  The general rule for future picks is the following year’s picks are worth a round lower compared to current year picks, generally because of the current pick’s obvious ability to contribute immediately.  We will follow this principle for our purposes, and the final compensation for trading back to #25 will be pick #57 and Seattle’s 3rdround pick in 2012.

Now that we have established a trading partner and compensation, let’s mock the remainder of the first round. 

13.Seattle Seahawks (from Det)                  Cam Newton, QB Auburn (6-5 250)

Seattle pulls the trigger and jumps in front of Miami to assure they are able to take their man.  While Newton has numerous off the field concerns, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll might be the perfect person to get the most out of the national championship winning QB’s immense talents.

14.St. Louis Rams                                         Julio Jones, WR Alabama (6-4 211)

This scenario again works out perfectly for the Rams, as they are quick to make their decision once on the clock.  Sam Bradford’s development could stall if he St. Louis doesn’t put better skill players around him, so this pick is an easy selection to make for the Rams.

15.Miami Dolphins                                       Blaine Gabbert, QB Missouri (6-4 ½ 235)

Chad Henne’s inability to pick up the mental side of the game has forced Miami to look elsewhere at the QB position, and the Dolphins catch a break with the top QB in the draft falling into their lap at #15.  Gabbert needs to prove he can transition from the spread system he used at Missouri to a more pro style scheme, but he has all the physical tools to be successful in the NFL. 

16.Jacksonville Jaguars                   Jabaal Sheard, DE Pittsburgh (6-2 5/8 260)

The Jags finally hit on a DE with 2010 5thround pick Austen Lane, and jump at the opportunity to take a natural RDE.  Sheard has as much upside as almost any defender in this draft. 

17.New England Patriots (from Oak)  Ryan Kerrigan, OLB Purdue (6-3 7/8 255)

Concerns over Adrian Clayborn’s lingering right shoulder injury cause New England to fill their other major defensive need instead.  Kerrigan is a highly competitive player who could become a dynamic pass rusher for the Patriots.

18.San Diego Chargers                    Aldon Smith, OLB Missouri (6-4 258)

The Chargers need players that can rush the passer, and Smith while very raw has a very high ceiling.  If he can improve his leverage and consistency against blockers, he could become a dangerous pass rusher.

19.New York Giants                         Corey Liuget, DT Illinois (6-2 300)

The Giants love taking defensive linemen in the first round, and here an outstanding one falls into their lap.  Liuget is an extremely disruptive 3-technique, and will make an immediate impact as a pass rusher.

20.Tampa Bay Buccaneers              Tyron Smith, OT USC (6-4 ¾ 285)

Smith is one of the hot names right now, so the Bucs are surprised to see him available at pick #20.  He has all the physical tools to become a franchise left tackle.

21.Kansas City Chiefs                      Leonard Hankerson, WR Miami (6-1 5/8 205)

This pick doesn’t change from last week, as Kansas City again fills a major need with the Miami receiver.  He is a very efficient route runner and has the size and quickness teams look for in a #1 wide receiver.

22.Philadelphia Eagles                      Nate Solder, OT Colorado (6-8 ¼ 314)

Solder is the next best OT on the board, so he is the pick for Philadelphia.  While he is an impressive athlete considering his size, he must learn to be much more consistent with his footwork and hand placement.

23.Indianapolis Colts                        Ryan Williams, RB Virginia Tech (5-10 210)

The Colts would like to take an OT here, but Williams is too good to pass up at this point.  Williams is a complete back, who runs tough and aggressively between the tackles but possesses top end speed and explosiveness in space.

24.New Orleans Saints                     Mikel Leshoure, RB Illinois (6-0 230)

LeShoure has the NFL build to match his ideal combination of bulk and quickness.  The Saints struggled to consistently run the ball in 2010 despite their excellent offensive line, so expect LeShoure to contribute immediately.

25.Detroit Lions (from Sea)             Rodney Hudson, OL Florida State (6-2 ¼ 291)

Trading back with Seattle pays off for Detroit in this scenario, as they are able to draft the #16 player on their board.  Hudson is an elite athlete for an interior lineman, and plays significantly stronger than his size would suggest because he plays with such consistent leverage.  He is capable of starting at any of the three interior line positions, but he projects best as the eventual replacement for current center Dominic Raiola.

26.Baltimore Ravens                        Jerrel Jernigan, WR Troy (5-9 ¼, 190)

The Ravens could reach for a corner like Aaron Williams from Texas, but Ozzie Newsome sticks to my board here and takes the best receiver available.  Baltimore needs a receiving threat that can hit the home run, so Jernigan makes perfect sense here.

27.Atlanta Falcons                            Adrian Clayborn, DE Iowa (6-3 287)

While some are worried Clayborn can only play RDE because of his shoulder, the Falcons need ends on both sides.  However, Clayborn must prove that he has the quickness and burst to play on the right side, where most teams’ primary pass rushers play.

28.New England Patriots                  JJ Watt, DE Wisconsin (6-6 294)

The Pats could have taken Watt with pick #17, so they are excited to see him still available with pick #28.  Watt is another highly competitive player who also has the ideal build of a New England defensive lineman.

29.New York Jets                             Cameron Heyward, DE Ohio State (6-5 285)

With so much depth at DE in this year’s class, the Jets are in a great position to sit tight and take the best player available at #29.  Heyward is a great fit in New York’s 3-4 defense, as he has great bulk and excels at stacking and shedding blocks at the point of attack.

30.Chicago Bears                              Muhammed Wilkerson, DT Temple (6-4 ½ 305)

Wilkerson is on the rise, and has the versatility to fit in any defense.  For Chicago he would be a perfect 3-technique, as he has the burst to consistently get off the ball and disrupt both run and pass plays in the backfield.

31.Pittsburgh Steelers          Mike Pouncey, OG Florida (6-4 315)

While I have other guards rated higher on my board that are still available at this point, Pittsburgh’s physical style is an excellent fit, not to mention that he would be playing next to his brother, 2010 first round pick Maurkice.

32.Green Bay Packers         Derek Sherrod, OT Mississippi State (6-5 5/8 312)

With Chad Clifton’s age and constant health issues, Sherrod is a natural fit for the Packers.  His best skill is his athleticism as a pass protector, a must in Green Bay’s explosive aerial attack.


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