- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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If you've been following along with our NFL Nation mock draft Tuesday, you would have seen how the entirety of the draft broke down, and if it falls this way in the real first round on Thursday, the Detroit Lions should do what I tried to do desperately.
Trade. Trade. Trade.
Unfortunately, there were no willing trade partners going up (I reached out to Houston, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Oakland) and going back (spoke with Tennessee, the Giants, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Dallas) but found no takers.
Almost had one move, dropping back to No. 12 and picking up a fifth-rounder in the process, but colleague Dan Graziano chose not to make the deal. So being stuck at No. 10 with no realistic prospects of moving, it became a tough decision.
Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert, Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller, Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin and Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix all garnered some consideration for me.
It came down to either Clinton-Dix or Donald, though, and it was legitimately a decision leaving me quite torn. Gilbert and Fuller were knocked out by not being high enough on my board. Lewan and Martin are not big enough needs at No. 10 for me.
Donald, though, fills a need and could become an impact starter in 2015 if the Lions lose either or both of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Plus, he has the potential to be a really special player who could learn from those guys for a year. Part of this mock draft, though, was who I thought the Lions would take, not necessarily who they should take. If it were just based on my opinion of who they should take, Donald would be the guy.
So why Clinton-Dix?
The Lions need to fix their secondary after yet another season of questionable play and the team let go of Louis Delmas earlier this year. Yes, Detroit signed James Ihedigbo, but Clinton-Dix could come in and beat him out for a starting gig on the first day, allowing the Lions to move Ihedigbo around if they so choose. He has good size, great instincts and should make everyone on the defense better immediately.
So that's why I went with Clinton-Dix over Donald, because that seems like what the Lions could very well do Thursday night.
Some other notes:
In addition to trying to trade picks, I briefly had discussions with Houston about trading Suh to get the No. 1 pick, but pulled back pretty quickly and offered Nick Fairley instead. Fairley, though, didn't fit what colleague Tania Ganguli wanted.
I tried using Fairley as trade bait a decent amount, both in trying to move up to nab Khalil Mack or Sammy Watkins and then again to try and trade back into the first round. There was not much interest in the defensive tackle.
If the draft does fall this way, I think the Lions do end up investigating the trade-back option a lot Thursday night. In this draft, it would be a great move because of the depth and the need for the Lions to add some pieces to the roster.