NFC North: Barkevious Mingo

I thought Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench brought up an interesting suggestion during our video discussion Wednesday, one that went against conventional wisdom and will depend largely on the Detroit Lions' internal evaluation of what many consider the third-best left tackle in the draft.

If left tackles Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) and Eric Fisher (Central Michigan) are both off the board by the Lions' No. 5 overall pick, Muench suggested the Lions draft Oklahoma's Lane Johnson rather than a defensive end such as Oregon's Dion Jordan or LSU's Barkevious Mingo. The defensive end class is deep, Muench reasoned, and the Lions should have access to a good one at the top of the second round.

Would Johnson be a reach at No. 5? I wouldn't assume that fact based simply on his media ranking below Joeckel and Fisher. Johnson is a tremendous athlete, as evidenced by a stunning performance at the scouting combine, and ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. ranks him as the fifth-best prospect in the draft Insider. Scouts Inc. ranks Johnson at No. 10 overall.

Johnson, who was a quarterback at Kilgore Junior College, ran the 40-yard dash at the combine in 4.72 seconds and recorded a 34-inch vertical jump. Those attributes don't necessarily mean Johnson will be an elite left tackle, but they indicate he has room to grow and develop after what was already a well-regarded career at Oklahoma. He is also 6-foot-6 with 35 1/4-inch arms, measurements that should satisfy the NFL scouting community.

Of course, Johnson's presumably high ceiling is only part of the equation here. We still don't know how the Lions A) Judge their need for a left tackle and B) evaluate Johnson. Their 2012 first-round pick, Riley Reiff, played left tackle at Iowa and made one start there last season. But offseason discussion about his versatility has spurred suggestions that the Lions would prefer to play him at right guard or right tackle.

Ultimately, however, I think we should accept that the Lions' options for drafting a left tackle at No. 5 aren't completely eliminated if Joeckel and Fisher are already off the board.

Video: Day 3 NFL combine takeaways

February, 23, 2013
2/23/13
8:03
PM ET


Paul Kuharsky, Kevin Seifert and Bill Williamson deliver the top stories from day 3 of the 2013 NFL combine.

NFL scouting combine preview: NFC North

February, 19, 2013
2/19/13
12:00
PM ET
NFC combine preview: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

NFL Nation previews the 2013 scouting combine by identifying the most important thing for each team to learn about its greatest area of need.

Chicago: The Bears have a glaring hole at left tackle, but with the No. 20 pick, they likely aren’t in a position to select any of the consensus top players at the position (Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher and Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson). The combine is another step in solidifying and ranking their targets among the second tier of left-tackle prospects for first- or later-round consideration. If the Bears don’t feel there is a draftable prospect with starting credentials for 2013, they could find a player in the tackle-rich free-agent market.

Detroit: With the No. 5 pick, the Lions can narrow their focus to a handful of prospects. Since Kyle Vanden Bosch has been released and Cliff Avril is a free agent, the Lions must hone in on the crop of top pass-rushers available and decide whether one is worth the substantial investment of the fifth pick. Taking a player such as Bjoern Werner, Damontre Moore or Barkevious Mingo would soften the blow of potentially losing Avril, and the combine will give the Lions a better sense of what each offers as a replacement. Team president Tom Lewand recently suggested the Lions need to find rookies who can contribute immediately, and being in Indianapolis will allow them to seek a pass-rusher who fits that mold.

Green Bay: There’s a shortage of top-rated running backs available in this draft, and the Packers discovered a bargain find in DuJuan Harris late last season. But there’s still room to upgrade the position, and the Packers need to search for a high-upside back who can be had in the middle rounds perhaps due to a lack of polish or concerns about an aspect of his game. Four of the top seven rookie rushing leaders from 2012 were drafted in the sixth round or later. There’s backfield talent to be had past the first round, and the Packers will head out to survey the landscape of mid-round running backs available.

Minnesota: Adrian Peterson stomped to nearly 2,100 yards in 2012 for an offense without a vertical passing game (or much of a passing offense at all), and finding a speedster to take the top off a defense would make one of the scariest sights in the NFL to an opposing defense even more frightening. The ability of defenses to stack the box helped to mildly contain Peterson; more space would open up if a vertical passing threat is on the field to stress the safeties in coverage. When the wideouts are running their 40s, the Vikings will have their stopwatches ready and be on the lookout for players who project as downfield receiving threats. Regardless of what the team decides to do with slot maven Percy Harvin (GM Rick Spielman recently shut down talk of a trade), adding a vertical receiver is a premium need for Minnesota this offseason.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

NFC NORTH SCOREBOARD

Sunday, 9/21
Monday, 9/22