Its NFL Draft time…when everyone is an expert, everyone has a “board” and the Lions take the wrong guy according to 90% of the callers to 97.1 The Ticket.
However, most people only know what the Lions should do by looking at the thousands of different mock drafts out there from “experts”.
But these “experts” aren’t even good enough to be employed by an NFL team and are routinely wrong. They usually aren’t just wrong, they are so far off on projections of who is going to be drafted where, that the 50% correct mock draft barrier has never been broken.
Not only are these “experts” wrong on what teams will do, they are wrong on who the top prospects are. NFL teams are so secretive that there is no chance that even Adam Schefter, the most connected reporter in the NFL, has accurate information right now.
I can guarantee you that if you could poll the scouts and coaching staff of the Lions right now and ask them who will be drafted, you would get 4 different answers. Teams even hold back information from their own staff to keep things secretive.
So, does this mean that the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have been linked to defensive playmakers at the top of the draft for the past few months, suddenly have changed their minds and are looking to take the Tackle that the Chiefs don’t take first overall? Teams don’t change their minds like that, but they leak incorrect information to try to get buzz going then hope for a call when they are on the clock to drop back and get extra picks.
About the only thing guaranteed in the top 15 of the draft is the fact that at least half the NFL teams want to trade backwards and pick up extra draft picks.
This is the worst week to start to look at the NFL draft and try to figure out what is going to happen. From all the reports over the past 2 plus months, the Lions have about 3 or 4 real options at the 5 spot but, in my mind, they should be focused on just two players.
First, local boy, Eric Fisher could be taken before the Lions draft. However, if he is not, the Lions should not take more than 3 seconds to write the big, agile Left Tackle’s name down and should probably use Reggie Bush to get the draft card to the Dictator, Roger Goodell.
Offensive Line is a need, not huge, but could be upgraded this draft, either with a franchise Left Tackle like Fisher or with an upgrade at a Guard/Center position, but being able to slot in Fisher on the left and last year’s first round pick, Riley Reiff on the Right side for the next 10 years, protects the investment in Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, the teams best two players.
If Fisher is gone before the 5th pick and the Lions believe that Lane Johnson, Left Tackle from Oklahoma is on a similar skill level as Fisher and still available (it would be a major shock if he were not) then he should be the pick. Johnson has been generating buzz lately from the “experts” who have been very behind according to teams on the talent and potential that Johnson has, so taking him here also makes a lot of sense for the Lions and would be equally as valuable to the franchise.
But the chance that Johnson, is not as highly regarded by the Lions does definitely exist, leaving the team unable to improve the Offensive Line at this point outside of picking a Guard, which is basically unheard of this high in the draft. Since 2000 only one Guard has been taken in the top 15, that was Leonard Davis, from Texas, by the Cardinals at #2 in 2001. It took Davis until 2007 to make his first Pro-Bowl. That is not the type of player ANY team is looking for in the top 5, so drafting a Guard should not even be considered.
The other options for the Lions then become improving the Defensive side of the ball, with a top end Defensive End or Cornerback. With the departure of Kyle Vande Bosch and Cliff Avril, the Lions definitely could use a DE, however, as has been proven time and again, DEs can be taken ANYWHERE in the draft and be pretty good. Especially in the Wide-9 alignment that the Lions use that maximizes players with speed, not size and with two pass rushing Defensive Tackles playing inside like the Lions have.
So, taking a DE like Ziggy Ansah from BYU could be an option according to the Lions front office, however as a player that has only been playing football for a few years and has limited experience, so it is a risky option in a spot that a sure thing should be taken.
There are also two hybrid LB/DEs in Dion Jordon from Oregon and Barkevious Mingo from LSU that COULD play DE for the Lions but they appear to fit better into a Von Miller from Denver or Clay Matthews from Green Bay style outside Linebacker role and may not provide the Lions with the production they need from a DE.
That leaves the Cornerback position and Dee Milliner from Alabama. In my opinion, the only other option the Lions should be considering. A shutdown CB can dominate a game by never hearing his name said. In a divisions and league that is so pass happy, having two CBs like Chris Houston and Dee Milliner would completely alter this team paired with new Safety Glover Quin and *crosses fingers* a healthy Louis Delmas.
This team goes from terrible on defense to a strong defense and a playoff threat simply by drafting 1 player and pairing him with the new free agent signings.
Milliner has the speed, size, strength and ball skills to be a top end CB in the NFL for years to come and to have a player like that is something that the Lions haven’t had in over three decades.
Trading down is always an option if a team calls, but no one should be holding their breath on getting the chance to move back. Instead, everyone interested should simply focus on Fisher/Johnson or Milliner and hope the Lions are able to get a franchise player at one of the two most difficult positions to find a franchise player at.