Detroit Lions 2011 Draft First Round Prospects
Posted by detroitsportsandmore on January 10, 2011
As we gear up for the Nation Championship Game tonight between Auburn and Oregon it’s almost time to turn full attention to the 2011 NFL Draft. Between the CBA and underclassmen declarations there is a fair amount of uncertainty right now. Let’s take a look at players that have declared for the draft that the Lions may be targeting with the No. 13 pick.
I’ve discussed in the past how the Lions go with the Best Available Player(BPA). Some think he employs the Best Available that fits a Need (BATFAN). I think it’s more of a Best Player Available With Common Sense (BPAWCS). We all know a QB won’t be on the scouts radar. Well, all of us common sense people get that anyways.
Michigan native Mark Ingram is probably the most dynamic player that might be on the radar. He can do everything as a running back except run away. I think Ingram could be compared to Adrian Peterson. His injury this year will likely effect people’s opinion of him but he is a fast, elusive, powerful runner with solid vision and instincts. He’s a No. 1 feature back from day one in my mind. Running backs seem to get different value in the draft by different teams and experts but any player that can come in and improve the run game, score points, and demand the defense accounts for them on every play is worth a first round pick. Ingram’s combine work outs will determine where he goes in the first round.
Mike Pouncey has grades that place him in the middle of the first down through the second round. His brother’s success can’t be overlooked and his ability to play Guard and Center makes him a valuable addition. The Lions struggled to open holes on run plays. They were solid in pass protection except when Dominic Raiola was being run over by a nose tackle like Jay Ratliff in Dallas. With the Miami fan incident and the rumored legal charges for an incident with a female up north, Raiola may be on thin ice. I don’t see his performance this season as anything more than slightly above average. He makes good calls and is consistent but the off field issues and his inability to move the larger interior defensive linemen it might be a solid idea to bring in a good center prospect to push or replace him or Stephen Peterman. I think Peterman had an injury that slowed him significantly this season for the record. Pouncey appears to be dropping and as a deveopmental center he probably is a second round prospect at this point.
The group of potential 4-3 line backers does not have any true stand outs. I think there are several guys that you expect to play okay and possibly start somewhere but no one jumps off the page to me. There are a few unpolished prospects with good potential and several highly polished guys with less upside. I’m not sold on going with a backer in the first unless you find someone you think can play the strong side. I’ve mentioned Akeem Ayers in the past, Von Miller and Justin Houston are also worth looking at. Last year it was believed that Koa Misi was a potential target to make the transition to backer. If one of these guys show the lateral agility to play pass coverage then they could be a solid option. I think Miller and Ayers possess the ability but I’m not sure about Houston, he is a good athlete though. Ayers is so raw, Miller has been more of a rush specialist, and so has Houston. Workout evaluations will be big for these guys. *UPDATE: Von Miller
Wide receiver is a real option. After Burleson and Johnson the receiving core is like a hot dog or bologna. Mystery meat. You never know what you’re going to get. The Lions don’t need a return man, they don’t need someone who can take the top off the defense. They just need a good route runner that can beat a nickel or line backer consistently. Getting Calvin and Burleson in single coverage situations is the key. There are two ways to do this. Take the top off with a speedy receiver or use the short passing game to suck the safeties up so Calvin can get behind the safeties. You want to make them choose. In the first round a guy like Julio Jones or Justin Blackmon could be sitting there. Both are good prospects that have produced at a high level this season. I know it’s a receiver in the first round but the amount of three receiver sets the Lions use a receiver could make a solid impact. i have been impressed at times with Julio Jones’ blocking. Receiver blocking can be the difference between a nice gain and a touchdown.
Brandon Harris is a very realistic candidate. There is a coaching connection just like with Randy Phillips. I believe it’s the Lions secondary coach that came from Miami after Schwartz took over. I think the Lions will take a very close look at Harris. He is the only corner prospect that is a consensus first rounder that should be available. Amukamara could drop if his 40 times are slower. That is the knock on him, but the same went for Joe Haden last year. He still was drafted relatively high and has played well for a rook. Aaron Williams has lots of potential and if he’s available in the second I think he’s a solid option as well. Janoris Jenkins went back to school, Jimmy Smith is too raw to go in the first, same goes for Devon House.
I haven’t seen an offensive tackle worth drafting this high myself. There are some possible prospects that could elevate their status like Jason Smith did two years back but I’m not seeing any true elite prospects just yet. Sorry Backus haters. Second round is a better bet.
The defensive line could see a player, the first round is full of defensive tackles and defensive ends. I don’t see it as a major focus. If Da’Quan Bowers drops then you pull the trigger but the line has great talent and depth right now and unless it’s an obvious steal then I’d focus on more impactful positions personally. You can never ignore talent though.
The only safety I see that could elevate to the first round may be Rahim Moore. He’d need to test very well to be considered this high. I think safety is a significant need. It’s tough to rely on Amari Spievey for next year. He has a long ways to go still. Ras-I Dowling should make the transition to safety in my mind. He’s built for it and could excel there. He may be a good corner but I worry that NFL receivers will beat him deep unless he plays too far off. He has solid size and tackles well. Playing safety he could cover tight ends and backs out of the backfield and support the run game rather well.
That’s a quick look at some of the potential prospects. If you want my opinion on anyone specific let me know in the comments.