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2017 NFL mock draft: Detroit Lions get pass rusher Taco Charlton

Detroit has issues on defense and gets one figured out in the first round.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Michigan State Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

As is often the case, the Detroit Lions have few needs on offense. On defense, however, you can find several holes on a team that failed to generate an outside pass rush in 2016. Detroit also needs to draft at least one starting-caliber linebacker this year and bringing in DJ Hayden shouldn’t be all the team does at cornerback.

For Jeremy Reisman of Pride of Detroit, he has a chance in the first round to figure out one of those needs.

21. Lions: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

Reisman: The board couldn’t have fallen much better for the Detroit Lions. Detroit needs serious help on defense and the last five picks were all offensive skill players. The Lions are left with their choice of several players worthy of the 21st-overall pick: Haason Reddick, Taco Charlton, Zach Cunningham, or Takkarist McKinley.

While Reddick and Cunningham fill a more pressing need at linebacker, I ended up picking Charlton for one simple reason: He is the best defensive player on the board right now.

It seems every draft guru has a different opinion on Charlton. Some see him as a top-10 pick, some see him as a second-round pick. I see a pass-rushing specialist who excelled once Michigan changed to a defensive scheme that better served Charlton’s skillset. He can get to the quarterback with his speed, handwork and balance around the edge, but he’s also an above-average run defender. When paired with Ezekiel Ansah on the defensive line, Charlton would make a great closed end on the left side.

Detroit had the second-fewest sacks in the league in 2016 and failed to force a single turnover in the final five games of the season. Charlton is the exact kind of playmaker the Lions defense needs.

Analysis: If the Lions are actually presented with this many options on draft night, you have to wonder if they'll pursue a trade down. Since we don’t do that in this mock, you have to consider value. While Jeremy may consider Charlton the top defensive player available, I have Reddick rated higher than the players he mentioned. He can line up at multiple linebacker spots and can rush the edge. Charlton is more of a pure pass rusher, though, and there’s something to say for adding that skill set.

Dan's top five players remaining

  • 16. Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
  • 17. Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
  • 18. Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
  • 19. Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
  • 21. Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky

Lions picks

  • 1-21: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
  • 2-53 (coming April 19)

That does it for our three picks today in the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft. We’ll be back first thing tomorrow morning with the Miami Dolphins at The Phinsider at pick No. 22.


How do you grade the pick of Taco Charlton by Detroit?

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