First mock draft: Lions take Talib
ESPN Scouts Inc. analyst Todd McShay posted his first of what I'm sure will be many mock drafts today and he had the Lions taking Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib with the 15th pick.
It's still way early 3 1/2 months til draft day but if Talib's there I can see the Lions making that choice. At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Talib has the requisite size (not to mention plus athletic ability) to succeed in the Tampa 2 defense. He also fits with Rod Marinelli's mission to get younger and better on that side of the ball.
I was a little surprised that neither Ohio State's James Laurinaitis or USC's Rey Maualuga declared early. Both would have been ideal fits at middle linebacker, big hitters who can cover tight ends, too. Their exclusion leaves the draft a little light on linebackers, with no top-15 talent on the board. Penn State's Dan Connor may be the best of the bunch, but a college assistant coach told me that Connor does not shed blocks well and is not as good an NFL prospect as his teammate, another junior who elected to stay in school, Sean Lee.
As it is, the Lions might be better off addressing that position in Round 2 or 3 and going cornerback early (Talib, South Florida's Mike Jenkins and Troy's Leodis McKelvin are first-rounders on McShay's board). Unless a stud defensive lineman like USC tackle Sedrick Ellis falls to 15, I don't know that the Lions can afford to take a first-rounder who might need a year to develop like most linemen do, especially if they believe in last year's second-round pick Ikaika Alama-Francis. The only other position I can see the Lions drafting in the first round save the receiver jokes is offensive tackle, where Boise State's Ryan Clady and USC's Sam Baker are possibilities.
A lot will change in the coming months depending on free agency (Shaun Rogers' future remains the biggest mystery) and after prospect evaluations at the combine, Senior Bowl and pro days are complete. But as it stands, expect the Lions to draft defense early and if Talib is on the board he very well could be the choice.
To read McShay's complete mock draft, check ESPN.com.