NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock believes there’s a good chance that Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard could end up with the Detroit Lions.
The Lions currently have the No. 10 overall pick in the NFL Draft, which begins next Thursday.
Mayock, a former NFL player who is considered one of the top television analysts when it comes to player evaluation, said he put together mock drafts in which he selected two players for each slot. One scenario had the Lions taking Dennard, the other Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin.
"I think if they stay at 10, there could be a whole lot of different ways they go," Mayock said Thursday during a conference call to preview the draft. "From my perspective, defensively, they need a back end guy at safety or corner. Offensively, the highest-rated O-lineman or wide receiver.
"I really believe that (Sammy) Watkins is going to be gone. There’s a good chance Mike Evans could be gone. They’ve got to be ready in case those guys (both receivers) are gone to look at the highest-rated corner or offensive lineman on their board."
Dennard, who won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back last season, doesn’t have the elite speed that’s ideal for high-end cornerbacks. But he’s a quality press-man coverage guy who is 5-foot-11, 199 pounds and plays physical.
Despite projecting Dennard as a possibility to Detroit, which would make him the first cornerback off the board, Mayock actually ranks Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller, brother of Lions receiver Corey Fuller, as his personal No. 1 corner in this draft.
"Kyle Fuller is one of my favorite players in the entire draft," Mayock said.
The idea of Martin going to the Lions was a bit of a surprise in that most mock drafts currently have him slotted several picks later. Martin’s top asset is his versatility.
"I love the kid," Mayock said. "Even though I have him (rated) fourth as a tackle, he might be my No. 1 center or my No 1 guard. I believe that he is the only player in this draft that could start and play at a high level at all five offensive-line positions and I think as we get closer to this draft, he will be the fourth offensive lineman off the board.
You have to think really hard before you start giving up picks to move up and go get somebody in this draft.
"I think he’s coming off the board somewhere between about nine and 13. He’s too good, he’s too safe and there are too many offensive-line needs out there. There’s a bunch of teams that look at him and say, ‘He could start at right tackle day one and maybe we move him inside to guard or center in the next year.’
"He’s awesome. He’s as safe a player as there is in this draft. If you want him, you better get him early."
TRADE UP FOR SAMMY?
Mayock doesn’t like the idea of the Lions trading away valuable draft picks to move up and get Watkins.
"If you have to give up a fourth-round pick, maybe even your third-round pick, which is 76, that’s one thing," Mayock said. "If you start talking about a second-round pick or a No. 1 next year, I wouldn’t go anywhere near that kind of stuff.
"This draft has got enough good football players. I kind of feel like most people in Detroit are fixated on getting that wideout. I understand why, but…you have to think really hard before you start giving up picks to move up and go get somebody in this draft."
Former Lions receiver Herman Moore will be in New York next Friday to make the official announcement of who the team takes with its second-round pick. Barry Sanders made the announcement last year.