The Detroit Lions' surprise renaissance in 2011 was one of football's best stories, and it came almost entirely thanks to their offense. So if, as in our 2012 NFL Mock Draft, they manage to grab South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore all the way down at No. 23—well, odds would be good we'll have another great story out of Detroit in 2012. Last year the Lions allowed 3831 yards and 26 touchdowns on defense; this year they'll have to do better.
Gilmore, a balanced cornerback with a lot of upside, has gone much earlier than this in a lot of recent mock drafts, but we had Dre Kirkpatrick going to the Cincinnati Bengals, leaving Gilmore free to fall another five spots. He might not be able to neutralize those 90 points the Lions gave up in their first two games of the year 2012 by himself, but he'll make Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees a little more uncomfortable than they were back then.
SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is counting down from No. 1 to 32 on NFL Draft day. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.
Last: No. 21 overall, Cincinnati Bengals
SB Nation St. Louis 2012 NFL Mock Draft
Next: No. 24 overall, Pittsburgh Steelers