The 2014 NFL Draft is today, and the final pick-by-pick mock of the top ten is closing up. Different from my previous mock drafts, I won’t be projecting who I would take, but who I actually think will be selected with the pick. Again I won’t be including trade possibilities simply because they’re limitless and totally unpredictable.
Quick recap: No. 1 Houston Texans (Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina); no. 2 St. Louis Rams (Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson); no. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars (Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn); no. 4 Cleveland Browns picked (Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M); no. 5 Oakland Raiders took (Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo); no. 6 Atlanta Falcons (Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M); no. 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan); no. 8 Minnesota Vikings (Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M); no. 9 Buffalo Bills (Eric Ebron, TE, UNC). Who do the Detroit Lions select at no. 10?
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State.
Many people have Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State) slotted here, both to the Lions and as the top CB drafted. And that very well could be the case. I like Dennard an awful lot and think he’s probably the most pro-ready DB in the entire draft. Despite that, I think Gilberts’ overall ceiling will make him the top DB off the board.
Gilbert is an athletic marvel and showed that at the Combine. At 6-foot, 200-pounds Gilbert ran a 4.37 40-yard dash (best among all CBs), 6.92 3-cone drill, put up 20 reps of 225 on bench and had nearly a 36-inch vertical leap. Those measurables alone will put him in discussion as an early pick, but then throw on the film and you walk away just as impressed.
He’s got good size and strength to be able to jam bigger receivers at the line and the track speed to run with practically anyone on the field. He shows good anticipation on his reads and breaks and has excellent ball skills. He’ll likely be more comfortable playing off or zone in the beginning of his career but has the elite athleticism to translate into a top man-cover corner.
He’ll be a great fit with Detroit and DC Teryl Austin, who’s made his name coaching defensive backs. Plus, the Lions desperately need help at CB. Chris Houston and Rashean Mathis have no business starting in this league anymore and Bill Bentley is best suited for the slot. Last years second round pick, Darius Slay, would be an intriguing fit opposite of Gilbert moving forward, two young CBs with size who can also run (Slay is also 6-foot, 200-pouunds and ran a 4.36).
Plus, Gilbert would be an upgrade over Jeremy Ross in the return game as well considering he returned 6 kick offs for TDs in college.
If it’s not Gilbert or Dennard, I’d expect the Lions to look at either C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama) or Aaron Donald (DT, Pitt). Mosley would be an upgrade over Ashlee Palmer on the weak side and could be a long term heir to ILB Stephen Tulloch, though this could be a tad too high for him. Donald would immediately improve the depth of the interior d-line but also provide insurance in case I don’t re-sign Nick Fairley or decide to get rid of Ndamukong Suh and his absurd $22 million dollar cap hit.