ESPN's Mel Kiper released his final 2011 NFL mock draft. In it, he has the Detroit Lions selecting USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith with the 13th overall pick. Surprisingly, both Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara and Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers would be available for the Lions if Kiper's scenario plays out, but he has them passing on the two players for Smith.
Kiper's reasoning for going in the direction of selecting the top offensive tackle is the same ol' "the Lions must protect Matthew Stafford" line of thinking we've been hearing for months now. To his credit, Kiper said that adding Smith would be a step in that direction, as Smith wouldn't join the Lions and start immediately with Jeff Backus not expected to relinquish his starting job to anyone in 2011. Kiper must see this as a move to build for the future, but I'm not a huge fan of it.
I'm especially not a huge fan of this move with Amukamara available. Kiper doesn't have the former Nebraska corner being picked until the 20th overall selection comes around (made by the Buccaneers). That is by far the lowest I've seen Amukamara fall in any mock draft and I have a tough time seeing it happen on Thursday night. I guess it wouldn't be the draft without surprises, though.
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