It’s another mock draft and this time the player remained the same. Coming off Todd McShay’s latest mock draft that had the Lions selecting Missouri defensive end Charles Harris, Mel Kiper Jr. doubled down, giving the Lions the same player at No. 21 in his latest mock draft.
Harris is an intriguing selection because he adds some positional versatility -- the Lions play a 4-3, but if they wanted to give a 3-4 look he could play with his hand off the ground -- and he has a pedigree as a pass-rusher.
If there’s one thing that’s pretty obvious about the Lions' roster right now, it’s that the franchise needs a playmaker in the front seven. Harris had 136 tackles, including 34.5 tackles for loss and 18 sacks, over three seasons. Those are good numbers for a player who is still somewhat raw and could benefit greatly from the teaching of defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.
So Harris would be a reasonable selection.
But in Kiper’s latest mock draft, he’s not the best selection for the Lions. When Kiper mocked Harris to the Lions, two other potential picks stood out to me on the board: Tennessee’s Derek Barnett and Michigan’s Taco Charlton.
Barnett is a proven pass-rusher -- he broke Reggie White’s sack record at Tennessee -- and is a safe selection with good potential to be a strong defensive end in the NFL for years to come. He has great hands and while he’s not always exceedingly fast off the line, he has shown a consistent level of production the Lions need to build around the explosive Ezekiel Ansah. He also had extremely good strength at the college level, which should translate to the NFL after playing in the SEC.
Then there’s Charlton, who has the size at 6-foot-6 and length with over 34-inch arms that the Lions covet in their defensive ends. Detroit isn’t looking for an Ansah clone in this draft -- although it wouldn’t hurt the franchise’s pass rush – but Charlton fits the mold of what Detroit wants.
He has freakish athletic abilities and was a really good high school basketball player. He has the potential -- and yes, sometimes it’s dangerous to draft on potential -- to be a high-end pass-rusher in a couple of years after he gets NFL coaching. But he has the athleticism and quick-twitch ability that should blend in perfectly in Detroit’s defensive scheme.
So while Harris would be a good pick for the Lions, based on who was left, I would have gone with Charlton or Barnett.
Some other names to consider that were available in Kiper’s mock are Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey and Washington cornerback Kevin King. Of course, if the board fell like this for Detroit, the Lions might try to trade down a few spots, where at least one among Charlton, Harris or Barnett would likely be available, as would some other enticing options.
That’s the interesting part about No. 21 is that it is so difficult to predict based on what happens with the picks above.