Mayock: Lions could draft tackle in first round
If cornerback Prince Amukamara of Nebraska is available when the Lions pick 13th in April’s NFL draft, they should nab him. That’s a big if, though.
That’s the opinion of Mike Mayock, the NFL Network’s scouting combine and draft analyst, who shared his thoughts on a conference call Thursday.
The Lions found good fortune with Ndamukong Suh, also from Nebraska, when they made him the second overall pick last year. In fact, the Lions have quite a contingent from Nebraska including Suh, Dominic Raiola and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
Amukamara is a 6-1, 205-pound cornerback who is projected in the top 10 in many mock drafts.
The Lions top needs are at outside linebacker, cornerback and safety, but there’s a chance they won’t fill one of those positions in the first round. They are unlikely to reach down, instead they will pick the best player at that position who fills a need.
At cornerback, Mayock thinks there’s a big dropoff after Patrick Peterson (LSU), who should go in the Top 10, and Amukamara who could also be a Top 10 selection. Mayock is not a big fan of Brandon Harris (Miami) or Aaron Williams (Texas). He didn’t see either one as a good option for Baltimore with the 26th pick, obviously meaning they would not provide enough value for the Lions at 13th.
The top two outside linebackers, in his opinion, are Von Miller (Texas A&M) and Akeem Ayers (UCLA). However both of them are more suited to a 3-4 defense, not the Lions’ 4-3.
“I don’t think Bruce Carter of North Carolina is worthy of a first-round pick,’’ said Mayock noting that Carter, an outside linebacker, is coming off knee surgery.
He sees the offensive tackle positions coming into play at the 13th pick for the Lions. He rates the top three as Anthony Castonzo (Boston College), Tyron Smith (USC) and Nate Solder (Colorado).
With the NFL Combine starting on Feb. 24 in Indianapolis, the draft picture should shake out a bit more.
Unlike last year when the consensus top three picks were Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy -- although not necessarily in that order at the Combine -- there is not a clear picture, at least yet.
Mayock has named his four top quarterbacks -- Blaine Gabbert (Missouri), Jake Locker (Washington), Cam Newton (Auburn) and Ryan Mallett (Arkansas) -- but he is not sold on any one of them.
He said he has yet to figure out who will be a boom quarterback and who will be a bust. Along with talent, he judges quarterbacks on work ethic (will he be the first guy in the building every morning?), toughness and football IQ.
Mallett, who started his collegiate career at Michigan before transferring to Arkansas, has the God-given ability to throw a football when he has plenty of time. After that, Mayock is not sure. He’s seen him make some horrible decisions.
“I would be very concerned about taking him in the first round,’’ Mayock said.
He said the Combine will be important for Mallett but it’s not about him throwing in shorts. Instead he’ll have to wow the general managers and coaching staffs in night meetings to show he has enough understanding of the game.
That’s how it will go for the 330 players who are invited to Indianapolis. About 250 of them will be drafted. How many of them perform in shorts and in the interviews, could help shape their futures. (Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)