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Why Todd Gurley was NFL Nation mock draft pick for Detroit Lions

If you missed the ESPN NFL Nation mock draft show earlier Monday, the Detroit Lions' selection at No. 23 was an interesting one.

Running back Todd Gurley, injured ACL and all, fell to No. 23 and left me with an interesting decision to make. In Gurley, the Lions would be taking the best player available, and a player whom Lions general manager Martin Mayhew deemed an outstanding prospect. At No. 23, Gurley would also provide massive value, despite his ACL injury that could cause him to miss at least part of his rookie season.

He is the most complete back in the draft and would be a player who could fill in and eventually replace Joique Bell, Theo Riddick or both. He’d be a dynamic fit in an offense that needs to stabilize the run game.

Taking Gurley is an admitted risk -- and one I’ve really questioned before, considering he’s a running back with a knee injury -- but the value and potential for what Mayhew would do overrode any reservations I would have with the pick.

There were other players on the board I considered as well. Offensive lineman La’el Collins was a very heavy consideration at No. 23 because of his ability to play tackle and guard. So, too, was Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown, who was the best defensive tackle left at No. 23.

There was also Randy Gregory, the dynamic pass-rusher who would be a fascinating pick. The potential red flags there -- Mayhew and Lions coach Jim Caldwell have placed premiums on character -- could be enough to cause them to look away from him despite his talent.

However, the Lions could pick up an interior offensive lineman on Day 2 of the draft like they have the past two years in drafting Larry Warford and Travis Swanson. Defensive tackle could be a Day 2 pick as well, especially considering some of the players the Lions have brought in for pre-draft visits.

The way this particular board fell would also be a prime situation for Detroit to make a trade back deeper into the first round or early in the second round. Mayhew has never been shy about making trades and has even hinted at trying to deal throughout this draft by continuously asking how often Detroit ends up sticking with the picks it has.

So this could be a good way to pick up an extra mid-round pick, still grab a strong first-round selection and add another need position in the third or fourth round. Had trades been available, this would have been something I would have tried hard to pull off because it both fits in Mayhew’s drafting mold and would be smart in a draft in which there could be multiple options for the Lions.