Friday, May 1, 2015

2015 NFL Draft - Round 1

With the 28th pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select... Guard Laken Tomlinson from Duke...

Hold on... the 28th pick? Did you think they were supposed to draft 23rd? Well they were supposed to, until Martin Mayhew managed to seal the deal on the second (and only other) trade in the first round. The Lions traded away pick #23 to move down 5 spots to pick #28 and also got a fifth round (#143 overall) pick in this draft AND a fifth round pick from Denver in 2016 AND they also got starting center Manny Ramirez, a former 4th round Lions draft pick, who has one year left on his contract and is 32 years old. Most are saying he'll be the backup to Swanson, last year's 3rd round pick, but I believe ManRam will win the starting job for 2015 while Swanson continues to get stronger and learns from the vet... a situation that may continue beyond 2015. Of course, I'm biased, as I'm still not thrilled with the Swanson pick from last year. But you got to admit with Tomlinson (6'3" 323lbs) at LG, ManRam at C, and Warford at RG, the interior of the OLine would be quite formidable.

So I'm happy with the selection of a guard in the first round? No, not exactly. I don't hate it, and the Lions did in fact pick up a great deal of bonus with the trade, but Laken Tomlinson still was ranked as a 2nd round pick by me, the most recent 6 sites I checked with, and many others as well. Still, it's entirely possible that the Lions snagged two starting offensive line players with one first round pick, along with 2 extra draft picks... and that's not all bad. In fact, the more I think about it, and the more I look into it, and then after hearing why the Lions couldn't wait until round 2 to make this draft selection (apparently the Patriots were all set to draft him at 32), I start to like it more and more. I may even grow to love it, depending on how the rest of the draft goes.

Optimum Scouting's guide (a paid subscription) ranks Laken at 39, which is the best I've found so far. Taking him at 28 isn't all that bad when you add in the extra 5th for this year, the extra 5th next year, AND Manny. For that matter, Optimum Scouting had Laken as their top Guard, none better. The next best had a 3rd round grade. That's quite a gap. So I looked into it more... Laken benched 25 times (means he's strong)... started 52 straight games at RG (means he's durable)... is extremely smart with not one but two degrees and is considered to be a first class person with a huge work ethic (the coaches will love that). He has an NFL body and if he can make the switch to LG easily enough will be a dominant run blocker in the NFL.

My NDT guide (another paid subscription) says Laken was a team captain, had a great senior bowl, and ranked him 59th overall with zero red flags and zero injury concerns. His score placed him in the 2nd round as a reliable starter. Of course, as I said, he wasn't likely going to drop into the 2nd round as the Patriots were reported to be set to draft him at 32.

I decided to read up on Laken at Huddle Report too (my other paid subscription) since those of you reading this can find for yourself the free sites with their profiles, the first sentence there reads "Laken is one of the best pulling guards in this draft" which is certainly a good thing, no, a great thing. Drew goes on to say "if he can just learn better in-line blocking techniques he could become an excellent left guard" ... now this was written in March and Drew had no clue who would be drafting him. He does warn that whoever his coaches end up being they will need to help mold Laken into the job but he believes the talent is there, hidden, waiting for a coach to find it... or some such comment as that.

So here you have a classy dude, smart, hard working, strong, able to do the hard things but needs some coaching to get up to NFL standards doing things that are teachable while he already does the things you can't teach. He "fits the suit" of guard, is already a good run blocker, and has kept his QB clean in college. Not a bad option to draft... considering the Lions other options for OL were either taken or are having some legal issues at this point in time.

I predicted the Lions would go OL in round 1, but I also thought it would be a RT, alas that was not to be. Still, most all the potential defensive tackles I said the Lions might take in round one instead of OL are still available... and they still have a large contingent of options coming up. Laken was indeed on the contact list, but by my count right now the Lions have 21 contacted players on the list available to draft and ALL of them are ranked below pick 65 on my board. Obviously their board looks different then mine, but that's a lot of options in any draft, more then I've ever seen before. I've no idea who they will take but I'm still of the mind that DT might be very likely.

I'll have more on Laken and the other draft picks later... enjoy day 2 of the NFL draft and I'll catch you all up after it's over.

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