2014 NFL Draft: Detroit Lions Should Trade Up for Khalil Mack

By Chris Loud
2014 NFL Combine
Getty Images

Talk about the Detroit Lions trading up for Clemson‘s Sammy Watkins picked up again over the last couple days, with Watkins visiting Detroit recently and apparently admitting he likes the style of offense. Watkins seems to be everyone’s favorite receiver in the draft at this point, and a lot of teams want him, but the Lions are topping the list for possible movers and shakers for Sammy’s number.

However, if the Lions are going to trade up in the draft, they really need to go after the best defensive player they can snag, and all signs indicate that this player is Buffalo‘s Khalil Mack.

Experts have Jadeveon Clowney as the first defensive player taken in the draft, and many have him going No. 1 overall. If you talk to defensive guys though, Mack is quickly being considered the best overall on the defensive side of the 2014 NFL Draft, and he would be a perfect puzzle piece for the Lions.

Mack has the potential to be a roamer at the outside linebacker position. A guy like him can rush the passer on a blitz, cover the flats on screens, shadow a star running back or mobile quarterback, and even drop back into secondary coverage to police passes underneath or knock down seam shots to slicing tight ends. Can a rookie make an impact like that? (See the Carolina Panthers Luke Kuechly)

I’m not saying Mack will be the defensive rookie of the year, but honestly, he could be the defensive rookie of the year. The Lions need that “wow, he’s everywhere” kind of defensive player, and Mack fits the mold. I’ll admit that Clowney perhaps has a higher ceiling as far as physical domination goes. Plus, you know, he once hit a Michigan running back so hard his helmet fell off, but you probably never saw that highlight four thousand times.

Also, he’s likely going to get blocked in the NFL by professional linemen and not allowed to bust through untouched.

The bottom line is that Mack can fill more holes in the defense. He can potentially change offensive strategy, alter passing routes and intimidate running backs and slot receivers. He can be the guy who makes the tackle after the first hit was missed wildly by the typical Lions defender.

The Lions already invested in Golden Tate. Reggie Bush and Joique Bell are great at catching passes out of the backfield. Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria can provide decent help from the tight end position, with many predicting that Fauria will flourish in the new system. Also, Ryan Broyles may actually be healthy again to play. Do the Lions really need to bet the farm on another receiver?

Sure, it would be nice to have a stable of receivers that Matthew Stafford can sling passes to all over the field. Combined with the running attack, the Lions would be deadly on offense, no question about it. The point is, who cares how many points they put up if they still lose the game?

Mack could be a touchdown preventer and a big play stopper. Look back at Super Bowl teams in recent years. Most of them had a great roamer. It’s time the Lions invested in a true game-changing linebacker.

Chris Loud is a Detroit Lions writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @cfloud, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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