ESPN's Kiper: Lions could draft OT Tyron Smith
Before the NFL Combine, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper had the Lions taking cornerback Jimmy Smith (Colorado) with the 13th overall pick in his mock draft.
Now he’s expecting the Lions might go with offensive tackle Tyron Smith out of USC.
In a conference call today (Wednesday) Kiper said he does not think CB Prince Amukamara will fall to 13th to the Lions. He said that’s “a little early” to draft Jimmy Smith out of Colorado. He expects Jimmy Smith, who has off-the-field concerns, to go in the 20-30 range.
“(The Lions) might not be able to go corner,’’ Kiper said.
Then he mentioned Matthew Stafford needs protection to keep him upright through 16 games and into the playoffs. Yes, he sees the playoffs as a possibility.
Kiper said he thinks four offensive tackles will go in the first round and that Tyron Smith will be the first to go.
“Some would argue that (13) is too early,’’ Kiper said.
Behind Smith he ranks offensive tackles in this order -- Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Castonzo (Boston College) and Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin).
Tyron Smith played right tackle weighing 280-285 at USC, but weighed in at 307 at the NFL Combine. He’s always played at right tackle, but Kiper said he could be moved inside at least early in his career.
Kiper said another option for the Lions would be to trade out of the 13th spot. While last year picks from 10 to 20 were the hot spot for trades, Kiper expects trades are possible all the way through the first round this year.
The NFL draft is set for April 28-30. Even if there is a lockout, the draft will happen.
(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)