As we march closer to the Super Bowl, the focus for many other NFL fans has shifted to the 2019 NFL draft.
On Thursday, the preeminent NFL draftnik published a first-round mock.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has predicted each of the 32 picks scheduled for April 25 in Nashville, Tenn.
The Detroit Lions have the eighth overall pick. According to Kiper, they should go with defense, namely LSU linebacker Devin White.
“White is a fly-to-the-football linebacker with similar athletic traits as Detroit middle linebacker Jarrad Davis, who was taken in the first round in 2017. The two could form a stellar tandem, as both are three-down linebackers. White isn’t a true pass-rusher, but he makes plays in the backfield,” Kiper wrote.
White, entering the NFL draft after his junior season, had 123 tackles, 62 solo, three sacks and three forced fumbles in 2018.
Kiper has Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary going with the next pick, No. 9 to the Bills.
“At his peak, the 6-foot-6, 283-pound Gary is a menace who makes offensive linemen look foolish, but you’d like to see him do it with more regularity. Gary could play end or nose guard in a 3-4 defense or tackle in a 4-3.”
USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis did a mock draft on Wednesday, and he had Gary going to the Lions at No. 8.
The other local player of note, Michigan linebacker Devin Bush, is slated for No. 20 by the Steelers by Kiper.
A quick check of other prominent mock drafts still have the Lions going defense. The Sporting News has Detroit taking Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell eighth overall.
“Ferrell is the best of the Tigers’ defensive line prospects, because his size (6-5, 260 pounds) gives him a high floor as an outside run-stopper to add to his explosiveness as a pass-rusher. He’s the kind of versatile player out of whom Matt Patricia can get the most, and he also fits the Lions’ top need,” wrote Vinnie Iyer, who has Gary going 13th to the Dolphins.
Ferrell stood out on a star-studded Tigers defensive line, recording 55 tackles (29 solo) and 11.5 sacks for the national champions.
CBSSports.com’s Ryan Wilson published a mock draft on Wednesday, too. He thinks the Lions will take Washington cornerback Byron Murphy.
“Darius Slay had a good season for the Lions but coach Matt Patricia could use a top-flight cornerback on a defense that ranked 31st against the pass, according to Football Outsiders,” Wilson wrote. He doesn’t have Gary going until 24th to Oakland, where he’d be teamed up with ex-Wolverine Maurice Hurst.
Murphy, leaving school after his redshirt sophomore season, had 58 tackles and four interceptions to go with 13 passes defended this past season.
The NFL draft blog walterfootball.com agrees with Kiper and has Detroit drafting White.
“A projected running back, White is still learning the position, which is crazy considering how great he was in 2017,” the blog reads.