Detroit Lions (Round 1, Pick 16):
Taylor Decker – Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
The Detroit Lions have only three offensive linemen under contract through the 2017 season, amounting to only $3.85 million ,or 3.83%, of the teams’ current 2017 salary cap obligations. That makes them 32nd in the NFL in that category and surely spells doom for the already lackluster Lions offense in 2017 and beyond. Though Detroit has needs at DE, DT, FS, and LB; clearly there is no more pressing need than filling one of the offensive tackle spots with a quality prospect. This draft also features more depth at the defensive line position, so the Lions will likely use one of their next picks on the defensive line.
Taylor Decker is the best offensive tackle left on the board and projects well to the next level as a starting right tackle. Decker would have likely been a first round pick if he had declared for the draft after the 2015 season. Paving the holes for Ezekiel Elliott’s monster national championship game versus Oregon, Decker is a plug and play tackle that warrants the 1st round selection.
NFL Player Comparison: David Stewart
Atlanta Falcons (Round 1, Pick 17):
Shaq Lawson – Defensive End, Clemson
The Falcons are entering year two of the Dan Quinn era. Quinn was the defensive coordinator under Pete Carroll in Seattle and as such Atlanta is going to be looking defense here. There would be no “Legion of Boom” if it weren’t for the upfront pass-rush of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. The Falcons will be looking for a 4-3 defensive end to pair with last year’s 1st round pick Vic Beasley because Atlanta finished dead last in the NFL in sacks last year. Lawson compliments Beasley well, as the former is stout against the run while the latter struggled in his rookie season in the run game. Lawson was Beasley’s teammate at Clemson and I believe Atlanta will be excited to re-unite the pair.
NFL Player Comparison: Chris Long
Indianapolis Colts (Round 1, Pick 18):
Ryan Kelly – Center, Alabama
The Indianapolis Colts learned first hand what happens when you fail to protect your franchise QB. Andrew Luck needs help upfront and with the run on offensive tackles from the teams picking before Indy, the Colts opt to select the center of their future in Ryan Kelly. Traditionally centers have not warranted top 20 picks but Kelly is a complete prospect and is one of the best bets in this draft to have a long successful NFL career. Kelly was a three-year starter who led the Alabama offensive line as Derrick Henry, T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper all went on to produce eye-popping numbers. The Colts will consider trying to trade back and still pick Kelly but will be happy to make this pick here if it ensures Andrew Luck stays upright.
NFL Player Comparison: Nick Mangold
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Please like and comment if you enjoyed the article, and make sure to check back for the rest of Round 1.