With both the Senior Bowl and Combine in the books, we’ve reached a perfect time for an updated mock draft. As usual, we’ll go pick by pick to make sure we discuss each pick thoroughly enough, and as usual, we’re assuming I’m the GM, so I’m not making picks based off who I actually think will go where, but rather who I’d take with the slot. And no, no trade scenarios because they’re infinite.
Here’s a quick rundown of our draft so far: no. 1 Houston Texans (Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina), no. 2 St. Louis Rams (Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M), no. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars (Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville), no. 4 Cleveland Browns (Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M), no. 5 Oakland Raiders (Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn), no. 6 Atlanta Falcons (Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan), no. 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson), no. 8 Minnesota Vikings (Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State) and no. 9 Buffalo Bills (Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo). With the 10th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Detroit Lions select?
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M.
I still believe cornerback is our biggest need, and while I thought long and hard about taking Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard with this pick, Evans is too good of a value here.
At 6-foot 5, 231-pounds, Evans is a mismatch for cornerbacks and safeties alike. 35-inch arms, 10-inch hands and a 37-inch vertical all give him an absolutely enormous catch radius. Speed was a big concern leading up to the Combine, but Evans put those concerns behind him running a solid 4.53 40-yard dash. He doesn’t have elite burst or quickness, but is a long strider who reminds me a lot of Alshon Jeffery, and high-points jump balls in an equally impressive fashion.
Imagine Evans paired opposite WR Calvin Johnson. Johnson has put up simply staggering numbers, and that’s while being double and sometimes triple teamed. Imagine what he can do if he only faces half the amount of double team coverages. Imagine another elite talent paired opposite of him that defenses have to account for. Two 6-foot 5, 230-pound monsters who can run catching passes from a QB (Matt Stafford) who has arguably the strongest arm in the league. How do you game plan against that?
Again, receiver is a need, but it isn’t our biggest need, and Dennard would make an awful lot of sense here too. He’s the most pro-ready cover man in the entire draft, and he would form a nice young tandem with Darius Slay (2nd rounder last year) on the outside. Plus, then I could let Bill Bentley strictly focus on covering the slot, where I think he’s best suited.
Who else was considered besides Evans and Dennard? Zack Martin (OT, Notre Dame) and Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina). I’m intrigued by the inside-outside versatility of Martin, and we can always use talented linemen, but this could be a little high for him. Ebron would also provide another weapon for Stafford, and would fill a big hole if I’m unable to re-sign Brandon Pettigrew.