Lions’ draft backup plan could include UCLA’s Akeem Ayers


The Detroit News

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has always entered the draft with the thought of taking the best player available when it’s his time to hand in the draft card.

The best example of that was in 2008, when he picked tight end Brandon Pettigrew with the No. 20 overall pick when the Lions had pressing needs at other positions, specifically on the defensive side of the ball.

Advertisement



ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his “backup plans” for each team for April’s NFL draft Friday, and Kiper thinks the Lions could go a number of different ways with the No. 13 pick.

“Detroit really needs to get secondary help, but if (Prince) Amukamara is gone, they may feel like Colorado’s Jimmy Smith is a slight reach,” Kiper wrote. “But they need linebacking help too, and (Akeem) Ayers would fit. They could also consider a trade down to get better value with an offensive line pick.”

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. changes tune on Lions’ pick at No. 13


Tim Twentyman / The Detroit News

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has released his second mock draft — and he’s changed his mind on the Lions pick at No. 13.

He has Detroit selecting Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith, after originally going with UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers.

Advertisement



“Smith is a late riser, a good player on a bad team and a guy who got less attention partly because quarterbacks wouldn’t put a ball near him this past season,” Kiper writes. “But the film is stacking up now, and it proves why NFL personnel are really high on him. The final test for Smith will be whether he grades out well in Indianapolis (combine). Based on what I know, he will, and he offers the Lions the cornerback help they need without having to sacrifice on value at this stage in the draft.”

Kiper still has Auburn tackle Nick Fairley going No. 1 overall to the Panthers.

The biggest riser on the board is Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. After predicting he’d be the 10th pick by the Redskins in his first mock draft, Kiper now is forecasting Newton to be off the board at No. 3 to the Bills.

ttwentyman@detnews.com

Tim Twentyman: Top cornerbacks will be gone before Lions pick, Kiper says


Tim Twentyman: NFL Insider

Mel Kiper Jr., who has been ESPN’s point man on the NFL draft since 1984, has some bad news for Lions fans hoping to snag a cornerback in the first round.

Kiper said the Lions’ top four needs are cornerback, outside linebacker, offensive tackle and defensive end. But he thinks there’s little chance the Lions get a corner deserving of the No. 13 pick.

LSU’s Patrick Peterson and Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara are considered the top two corners in the draft. After Peterson and Amukamara, Kiper said the rest of the corners are more deserving of late-first round to second-round consideration.

Peterson is considered a top-five pick and Kiper doesn’t think there’s any way the Lions have a chance at Amukamara unless they move up.

Advertisement



“I just can’t see (Amukamara) getting past Dallas (at No. 9),” he said. “Surprises happen every draft, and you never say never, but right now, I have a tough time getting him down to Dallas. I thought he’d fit in good with a couple teams earlier; San Francisco (No. 7) could look corner. I do think at No. 13 that would be a stretch to try and get him.”

Kiper still thinks the Lions will take UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers, which would certainly fill a need.

But Kiper also alluded to a possible wild-card selection.

“I have (offensive tackle) Nate Soder out of Colorado going one pick ahead of the Lions at No. 12,” Kiper said. “He’s had a nice week down at Mobile so far (Senior Bowl), which you knew he would.

“I think he has the most upside out of any lineman in the draft, be it offensive lineman or defensive lineman. He’s a former tight end. He’s a chiseled kid. He’s going to keep getting better and better because of limited experience on the offensive line.

“The history of tight end-turned-offensive tackles in the NFL over the last 35 years is pretty good. I think he would be an interesting guy. He’s the only one right now of the offensive tackles that I think has a chance to really jump up. I think Soder is going to be the hot guy because of the upside and the fact that he’s that diamond in the rough; he’s going to keep getting better and better.”

If the Lions pass on Ayers for Soder, or Amukamara drops, Kiper said there are good 4-3 outside linebackers available in the second, third and fourth rounds that will fit the Lions’ needs.

He named Bruce Carter (North Carolina), Lawrence Wilson (Connecticut), Mason Foster (Washington) and Ross Homan (Ohio State) as possibilities for the Lions later in the draft.

By the numbers

$83,000 — Payout for each player on the winning team in Super Bowl XVL

$42,000 — Payout for each player on the losing team

$15,000 — Payout for each player on the winning team in Super Bowl I (1967)

$7,500 — Payout for each player on the losing team

Air attack

Still don’t think the NFL is a passing league? A record 22 quarterbacks passed for 3,000 yards or more this season. The previous high was 19 in 2001 and 2009.

Philip Rivers, Chargers — 4,710

Peyton Manning, Colts — 4,700

Drew Brees, Saints — 4,620

Matt Schaub, Texans — 4,370

Eli Manning, Giants — 4,002

Carson Palmer, Bengals — 3,970

Aaron Rodgers, Packers — 3,922

Tom Brady, Patriots — 3,900

Matt Ryan, Falcons — 3,705

Kyle Orton, Broncos — 3,653

Joe Flacco, Ravens — 3,622

Sam Bradford, Rams — 3,512

Josh Freeman, Buccaneers — 3,451

Donovan McNabb, Redskins — 3,377

Chad Henne, Dolphins — 3,301

Mark Sanchez, Jets — 3,291

Jay Cutler, Bears — 3,274

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers — 3,200

Matt Cassel, Chiefs — 3,116

Michael Vick, Eagles — 3,018

Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks — 3,001

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills — 3,000

He said it

“The entire senior leadership team stands with me in its commitment to resolving the CBA issues with the players union. While several other executives have also volunteered to make additional reductions to their compensation, I have asked them not to take that step at this time as we continue our negotiating efforts.”

— NFL commisioner Roger Goodell, who said he’ll cut his salary to $1 if there is a work stoppage after the collective bargaining agreement expires in March. Goodell makes $10 million per year.

ttwentyman@detnews.com