NFC North: Stephon Gilmore

From a Detroit Lions perspective, I got lucky in our ESPN.com blogger mock earlier this week. Cornerback and safety are probably the Lions' two top needs, and for reasons I did not anticipate, Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was still available at No. 23 and the obvious pick for me/Lions.

But what if Thursday night's draft plays out a different way? Can the Lions really be assured that a cornerback, be it Kirkpatrick or South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore, will fall to No. 23? And based on recent speculation, there appears to be no chance that Alabama safety Mark Barron will fall into the second half of the round, let alone No. 23.

That makes the Lions a likely candidate to move up in the first round, and ESPN's John Clayton reported Thursday afternoon that they were among a handful of teams inquiring about the feasibility of moving up perhaps 10-12 spots to grab a defensive back, most likely Barron but possibly Gilmore.

General manager Martin Mayhew is no stranger to moving up, having done it in 2010 to select tailback Jahvid Best and tailback Mikel Leshoure in 2011, among other instances.

A playmaking safety alongside Louis Delmas would significantly change the look of the Lions' defense. So would a second reliable cornerback next to Chris Houston.

So we have at least two of the necessary ingredients here. The Lions have a need and a decision-maker who is unafraid to invest significant resources to secure a particular player. Now the Lions need to find a willing trade partner at the right price. That's all. Stay tuned.
So, two days away from the blog at the end of March was long enough to miss out on the conception and some of the execution of an ESPN.com blog network mock draft. I handled the NFC North's first two choices, for the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears. My ESPN.com blog colleagues filled in on the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.

There will be more mock drafts to come from the blog network, in addition to those authored by ESPN's host of draft analysts. So hang on. Below are the NFC North choices from Monday's blog network mock:

3. Vikings: USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil
Comment: There are of course no trades in this mock so we can't really explore what might be the Vikings' top choice here at No. 3. But barring a trade, I'm not prepared to predict they will choose outside the box at this spot. They don't have a left tackle, and Kalil is the consensus choice as the best non-quarterback prospect available. Despite general manager Rick Spielman's posturing, I don't see him getting cute. Yet.

19. Bears: Stanford T Jonathan Martin
Comment:
I bet NFC East colleague Dan Graziano will grab Martin in our next mock, considering the newly-revealed Achilles injury of Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jason Peters. But for now, we get to ponder a Bears future with a more promising left tackle than current starter J'Marcus Webb. Coach Lovie Smith expressed support last week for Webb, but you have to couch such pre-draft statements. I was actually hoping that Stanford guard David DeCastro would be available, but AFC North colleague Jamison Hensley grabbed him for the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 17. DeCastro is a beast.

23. Lions: South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore
Comment: This is a perfectly logical and reasonable choice by my colleagues, addressing a need with an appropriately-ranked player. Gilmore would give the Lions an immediate alternative to Aaron Berry and/or Jacob Lacey at cornerback, and would certainly give them depth at a position that contributed to their defensive collapse in 2011. We all know that general manager Martin Mayhew doesn't make decisions based on need, especially at the top of the draft, but this might be a fortuitous combination of talent and need.

28. Packers: Wisconsin center Peter Konz
Comment:
Again, I see where my colleagues were coming from. Scott Wells departed via free agency and replacement Jeff Saturday is a year-to-year proposition. But I wonder if there is enough urgency to draft a center in the first round. Often you can find a development center in the later rounds, and the Packers have a total of 11 picks after the first. Unless general manager Ted Thompson thinks Konz is so far beyond the rest of the class, I'm not sure he would pull the trigger on this one.

Related: Two other mock-related features posted during my short time away from the blog. ESPN.com's Todd McShay offered a two-round mock Insider that, among other things, got the Vikings a receiver (South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery) and the Bears a tight end (Clemson's Dwayne Allen) in the second round. Meanwhile, ESPN.com debuted a "Draft Machine" that allows you to conduct your own mock and compare it to your friends'. By all means, go at it.
Not interested in Peyton Manning's next move? Unenthused by a free-agent market that lost 21 players to the franchise tag? Then come along for the third set of mock drafts this offseason from ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Insider and Todd McShay Insider. You'll need an Insider subscription to see the entire file, but as always, I'll sneak you an NFC North peak.

3. Minnesota Vikings
Kiper's pick:
USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil
McShay's pick: Kalil
Seifert comment: This has been a league-wide consensus since the combine, despite general manager Rick Spielman's suggestions that he might value an offensive playmaker higher. The reality is there is no playmaker, offensive or defensive, who measures up to Kalil's overall value, and it's rare for someone to trade up to the top of the draft for a left tackle. The only way this doesn't happen is if the St. Louis Rams draft Kalil at No. 2. But the Rams are widely expected to trade the pick to a team seeking Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.

19. Chicago Bears
Kiper's pick:
Ohio State offensive lineman Mike Adams
McShay's pick: Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd
Seifert comment: Floyd went earlier in Kiper's mock, leaving the talented but underachieving Adams for the Bears. General manager Phil Emery hasn't established his priorities publicly, but the need for a big receiver is acute and No. 19 overall isn't a bad spot to draft one.

23. Detroit Lions
Kiper's pick:
South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore
McShay's pick: Adams
Seifert comment: Gilmore would fit a big need. There are concerns about Adams' intensity, but in the end general manager Martin Mayhew won't allow need to trump talent. If he likes Adams' talent, he'll be willing to pass over the best cornerback remaining on the board.

28. Green Bay Packers
Kiper's pick:
USC linebacker Nick Perry
McShay's pick: Clemson defensive end Andre Branch
Seifert comment: Most mock drafters have the Packers choosing a player who could enhance their pass rush, be it a defensive end or linebacker. It's just a matter of who.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider