The rumor du jour these days involves the Lions and their interest in Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. It's hard to blame them. Watkins is the total package at wideout. Pairing him with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate is flat-out terrifying.
One problem for Detroit. He won't make it to No. 10. So Martin Mayhew will have to make a substantial move up the draft board if he wants to land Watkins. He may need to make a move if he wants either Watkins or Texas A&M's Mike Evans; seeing Evans off the board before 10 would hardly be surprising.
In the mock below, I'm gonna let Detroit pull the move off in a deal with the Rams. We know St. Louis is always willing to move around, so it's plausible. And getting to No. 2 is the only way to guarantee you get Watkins (Jacksonville, Cleveland and Oakland could all take him). The price for this move won't -- or shouldn't -- be as prohibitive as the Redskins leap up to grab Robert Griffin III in 2012.
The second overall pick is worth 2,600 points on the traditional trade value chart, while 10th overall is worth 1,300. It's nearly impossible to make things work based on those old-school values -- the Lions' top three picks don't equate to the value of No. 2, although I suspect Les Snead would jump all over that deal if it was offered -- so instead let's use Chase Stuart's updated Draft Pick Value Calculator to figure this out.
I gave Detroit No. 2 overall and gave St. Louis No. 10 and No. 45 overall and the result is surprisingly even.
There's actually an interesting precedent for this too. In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Rams moved down to No. 6 after the RG3 trade and then moved down again to No. 14 when the Cowboys wanted to make a deal, move up and grab Morris Claiborne. For the trouble of moving down eight spots, the Rams picked up the No. 45 overall pick.
I don't think the Rams do this deal if Clowney falls to No. 2 because they can then a) attempt to auction the pick off or b) draft the best player in the pool.
My preference would be St. Louis nabbing Watkins; I think he's the second-best player in the draft and an absolute game-changer at wide receiver.
But picking up the No. 45 overall pick and giving yourself two 1's and two 2's is worth the risk of dropping back eight spots. That's four impact players in an extremely deep draft.
It's a win-win scenario and maybe more realistic than we think.
|NFL Mock Draft - 04/10/2014|
|1. Houston Texans|
|Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: None of the above affects the Texans' plans for the top spot and Clowney is still the guy. He's a freakshow talent and the best player in this draft. Houston can't -- and won't -- look past that.|
|2. Detroit Lions (mock trade from St. Louis through Washington)|
|Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: Personally I don't agree with Detroit's fake strategy here. I'd rather stand pat at 10 in a deep draft and grab a cornerback. There are wideouts to be had later. But I also think Watkins is the second-best player in the entire draft so I can't entirely blame the Lions brass for being bold.|
|3. Jacksonville Jaguars|
|Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: He's got power and speed as a pass rusher and will produce the sort of impact out of the box that will allow Jaguars fans to forget the team didn't draft a quarterback here during 2014.|
|4. Cleveland Browns|
|Blake Bortles, QB, UCF: With Watkins off the board and the Texans letting Bortles off the top spot, Cleveland strikes early to solve their quarterback problem. Having Brian Hoyer as a potential bridge if Bortles isn't ready to go immediately is a big plus.|
|5. Oakland Raiders|
|Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Couldn't you see Mark Davis falling in love with Manziel the way his father would have and gently nudging Reggie McKenzie into taking him here? Manziel would inject livelihood into this franchise.|
|6. Atlanta Falcons|
|Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: A giddy Thomas Dimitroff happily adds Robinson, a dominant road grader in the run, who he can plug in on the right side of his line to pave the way for Steven Jackson and protect Matt Ryan.|
|7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: Combining Evans and Vincent Jackson (the Bucs have a hole with the recently traded Mike Williams in Buffalo) will give Josh McCown a pair of targets that will look quite similar to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. That worked out OK.|
|8. Minnesota Vikings|
|Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: A lot of people might have Derek Carr going here. Perhaps it happens. Perhaps the Vikings really like Carr. But as of right now I can't talk myself into plugging him above Bridgewater. It already makes little sense that Teddy fell to eight.|
|9. Buffalo Bills|
|Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: Another draft, another weapon for EJ Manuel. Doug Marrone's essentially all in on his first-round pick from last year, so why not get him weapons?|
|10. St. Louis Rams (mock trade from Detroit)|
|Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: Everything's coming up Snead! Not only did the Rams pick up an extra second-round pick, but they managed to get a player they covet. Jeff Fisher coached Matthews' HOF dad and he gets to make his first-ever, first-round offensive lineman pick. No better time than the present.|
|11. Tennessee Titans|
|Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: Plugging this in from now until it's pointed out that I was wrong. Barr has flop potential for sure but he's a very nice fit for Ray Horton's new 3-4 scheme and devastates quarterbacks, something every defense wants.|
|12. New York Giants|
|Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: The Giants need to rebuild the interior of their defensive line. Donald is undersized but he's a highly productive player out of college and will help replace Linval Joseph while boosting the Giants' pass rush from the interior.|
|13. St. Louis Rams|
|Hasean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama: Maybe the Rams are just fine with Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Brian Quick, Austin Pettis and Kenny Britt. They can't be fine with the safety combo of TJ McDonald and Rodney McLeod though. Dix is a day one starter who will impact an already impressive secondary.|
|14. Chicago Bears|
|Ra'shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota: The Bears already added Willie Young and Lamarr Houston as end pass rushers. Now they can use the draft to bulk up the center of their defensive line. Acquiring the 6'6, 310 Hageman, a massive presence in the middle, does just that.|
|15. Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: Kevin Colbert probably didn't think he'd get his pick of all the cornerbacks in this draft. But here we are and Pittsburgh now has the top corner on their roster.|
|16. Dallas Cowboys|
|Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame: If you were creating a flowchart for the Cowboys draft it would basically ask "Is he a defensive tackle?" and if you answer "Yes" then "Draft for Cowboys." Or something. Nix might not be their top choice, but he's a big body that can plug in the middle of Rob Marinelli's line and hopefully make up for massive personnel departures on the line.|
|17. Baltimore Ravens|
|Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: Surprising fall here for Lewan but Ozzie Newsome won't mind. They need some physicality on the line and Lewan can provide that. He's slot into the right tackle spot right out of the gates.|
|18. New York Jets|
|Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: Giving Rex Ryan a pair of young cornerbacks to work with could equate to good things. And Dennard's speciality is press man, which is exactly what Rex likes out of his cornerbacks.|
|19. Miami Dolphins|
|Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame: Miami's got plenty of needs but offensive line remains an important part of the equation, especially if the Dolphins expect Ryan Tannehill to progress. Or, you know, survive. Martin's got the flexibility that Miami needs on this offensive line.|
|20. Arizona Cardinals|
|Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri: A phenomenal athlete who hasn't gotten a ton of press, Ealy's a future start in the making and can help replace John Abraham in Arizona.|
|21. Green Bay Packers|
|Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois: For as dangerous as the Packers are, they've got plenty of needs. (Not that Ted Thompson drafts for need; there are plenty of high-end talents.) One of those is shoring up the back end of the secondary. Ward's got the necessary skills to be a versatile piece in the Green Bay defensive backfield.|
|22. Philadelphia Eagles|
|Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU: The Eagles need help in the secondary too but with their decision to move away from DeSean Jackson, wideout is a more pressing issue. And Beckham falling into their laps here will make Chip Kelly feel just fine about his decision on D-Jax. Beckham's a complete wideout and can do damage from all over the place. He's an impressive kick returner with outstanding field vision and plenty of burst.|
|23. Kansas City Chiefs|
|Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: The Chiefs could be a candidate to trade up and grab a wideout, especially if they have their sights set on Beckham (although Marqise Lee might fit the bill here). Instead they sit back and land Cooks, the uber-speedy wide receiver who can do damage from the slot and be an explosive threat and can be Andy Reid's new DeSean Jackson.|
|24. Cincinnati Bengals|
|Dee Ford, DE, Auburn: The Bengals seem like a good bet to go cornerback or defensive end here. There's a slew of cornerbacks on the board at this point but Ford could be a good value here and could quickly replace the departed Michael Johnson on the other side of Carlos Dunlap.|
|25. San Diego Chargers|
|Jason Verrett, CB, TCU: Verrett is a physical corner with excellent closing speed and a willing and able tackler who can also blitz from the corner spot effectively. The Chargers need, well, cornerbacks. They should be thrilled landing Verrett here.|
|26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis)|
|Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State: This might no be high enough for Roby when all is said and done. He's crazy talented but has some red flags to overcome. For the Browns, they got their quarterback and now have a guy to pair across from Joe Haden. It doesn't hurt that he's a local product either. Goodwill for the fans and whatnot.|
|27. New Orleans Saints|
|Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: He didn't have to face off against a bunch of world-beating quarterbacks in the ACC, but Fuller showed plenty of talent during his run with Frank Beamer, including an innate sense of ball location, impressive technique breaking up passes in difficult locations and a willingness to tackle. He helps round out a completely reworked Saints secondary with Jairus Byrd, Kenny Vaccaro and Keenan Lewis. The Champ Bailey signing doesn't prevent New Orleans from drafting someone else.|
|28. Carolina Panthers|
|Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama: Sticking with this pick for now. Yes the Panthers need a wide receiver or a tight end. But they need an offensive lineman more than anything. Dave Gettleman stole Star Lotulelei last year when he fell because of unnecessary health concerns. Why not the same thing with Kouandjio?|
|29. New England Patriots|
|Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech: Grabbing a tight end in the first round of the draft doesn't seem very Belichickian in that it lacks value. But Amaro is a dynamic pass catcher and willing enough to block. They simply have to get more weapons around Tom Brady.|
|30. San Francisco 49ers|
|Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California: With cornerback-needy teams just above them, it wouldn't shock if San Francisco made a jump up to grab one of the top-tier guys in this draft. But they'll live with Lee dropping all the way to 30 and then snagging the USC wide receiver to give Colin Kaepernick another weapon.|
|31. Denver Broncos|
|Xavier Su'a Filo, OG, UCLA: Plenty of other concerns for the Broncos, including a wideout and a cornerback, but they learned first hand during the Super Bowl how important protecting Peyton Manning up the middle truly is. Filo will replace the departed Zane Beadles.|
|32. Seattle Seahawks|
|Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State: Just because the Seahawks have tons of pass rushers doesn't mean they have enough. Adding another versatile, impact linebacker to an already impressive corps means the rich get richer in this mock draft.|
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