The Next Season Sports Interblog mock draft, the subject of much M&I (that's Murder and Intrigue, for those reading who are neither me nor my mother), continues on! Round 2 is here:
For the second round, since the Lions don't have two second-round picks, my cohort Steve from Detroit Lions Weblog and I collaborated on the initial pick of the second round. Making this selection was tough; as I whined about with the 1.20, the board had fallen about as poorly as possible for the Lions. All of the linemen and linebackers that might fall to 1.20 were gone by then, and some of the remainders I thought might be there at 2.1 were also gone. After a few back-and-forths, we agreed there were two real possibilities: Wake Forest CB Alphonso Smith, and USC LB Clay Matthews.
Smith possesses all the tools of a prime time NFL cover corner: blazing speed, great short-area burst, confidence, and a nose for the ball. Everyone's favorite free draft site, Scott Wright's Draft Countdown, has this to say about Alphonso Smith:
"Was a four-year starter in the ACC...First team All-American as a senior...Was named All-ACC as a junior and a senior...Holds the ACC record for career interceptions...A true playmaker and ballhawk who will make quarterbacks pay for their mistakes...There isn't much not to like about this guy other than his lack of prototypical height...Would get selected much earlier if he were 2 or 3 inches taller."
To make a long story short, Smith looks like Dre' Bly all over again, minus (offically speaking) one inch of height. 5'-9" is really small, especially since that's an "official" height. We'll see what happens when he weighs in at the combine, but for now the height gives me pause. Scott and I were wearing our Martin Mayhew/Shack Harris caps (golly, who was who?), trying to draft as we think the Lions will. It's been stated multiple times by Mayhew and Schwartz that the Lions are looking to add size, especially on defense, and with Michael Johnson added somewhere in the front seven, we partially addressed that need. However, since it's now looking like the Lions will primarily run a 4-3 set, Johnson would fit into more of a SDE/WDE rotational mold . . . 6'-7" 260 is truly enormous for an LB in a 4-3, and I don't think he has the coverage skills to play Mike or Sam--and the Will spot belongs to Ernie Sims. Therefore, there's still a need for size in the middle of the defense.
Clay Matthews goes about 6'-3", 240--and though he played outside at USC, that was only because of the presence of gamebreaking he-beast Rey Maualuga in the middle. Matthews could play inside or outside, from everything I've read. He is fleet of foot, an extremely hard worker, very strong, a great tackler, has a knack for getting after the passer, and excels on special teams. He's not supremely athletic side-to-side, but his grit, strength, instincts, and motor more than make up for it. It's tough to say whether playing next to two supremely talented athletes in Maualuga and Brian Cushing--both of whom are first-round locks--made him look much better than he is, or robbed him of some much-deserved attention. The final piece of the Clay Matthews puzzle is that he's the son of Clay Matthews (17-year NFL vet), nephew of Bruce Matthews (NFL Hall of Famer and 19-year vet), and grandson of Clay Matthews Sr., (also an NFL veteran). This guy's bloodlines are absolutely impeccable, and if he's half the player his father or uncle were, he'll be a valuable addition to the roster. As Steve said, if this guy is the pick, the "bromance" between him and Lions fans will bloom . . .
In the end, we chose Smith. One of the justifications for my controversial selection of Josh Freeman in the first round, was that I thought Smith might still be here for us at this pick--and he is. Smith is also a dangerous return man, so even if he doesn't start, or begins his career as a nickel back, he'll be have a chance to make an immediate impact in another desperate need area. Moreover, Smith possesses the attitude--if not the frame--to be excellent in run support. Despite his size, he's very strong and physical . . . I think he needs to go to the vet, because his pythons are sick (apologies to Colin Cowherd). Of course, only time will tell with any of these guys, but I think we got one of the, if not THE, best player available at this spot, and one of the better values so far in this draft--and filled two desperate needs (CB & KR) while doing so! I think Steve and I got the second round off to a great start, and eagerly anticipate the rest of the round as it rolls on. Keep your eyes on this space, as there is already talk of starting over from 1.1 once all the combine info is in and folks have had time to digest it . . .