SideLion Report answers the Detroit Lions burning questions: Pre-draft edition

burning_questions_small.jpgOne of the most popular features at my other blog, The Wayne Fontes Experience, is “Burning questions.” Once a week, whenever the Hell I feel like it, or whenever the news warrants it, I answer questions about the latest hot button topics in regard to the Tigers and Lions.

As I did my first Detroit Tigers “burning questions” post yesterday, and the NFL Draft only 3 days away, it seemed like a good time to do my first Detroit Lions version at SLR.

So let’s light this candle, and answer some smoking hot questions!

Will the Lions trade WR Roy Williams during the 1st round of the draft?

Where there’s smoke, there’s at least a small brushfire. Rumors continue to swirl about Williams’ future as a Lion. Supposedly, Dallas, Philly, and Washington, to name 3 teams, have all tried to rob Matt Millen blind inquired about the availability of Williams. When asked if Williams was on the block, the Lions have done nothing but deny, deny, deny, they are thinking any such thing.

I know of no better way to see where the situation stands, other than by doing the math!

So let’s add up what we know…

1. The Lions brain trust claim Roy Williams is not on the trading block.
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2. It’s a fact, all NFL teams tell baldfaced lies in the days before the draft.
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3. Lions WR Calvin Johnson is already making HUGE money.
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4. Williams is in the last year of his contract.
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5. Media reports during the ’07 season stated Williams would sign sign somewhere other than Detroit when he becomes a free agent.
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6. To keep Williams, the Lions will have to pay BIG money.
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7. Possibly the only way the Lions can keep Williams will be to franchise him.
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8. Williams will not like being hit with the franchise tag one bit.
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9. Williams is better than any receiver available in the draft.
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10. Damn near every team in the NFC East wants a number one wide out.
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11. If there is one position the Lions would be making a deal from strength, it’s wide receiver.
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12. The Lions could plug a large roster hole by trading Williams for a 1st round pick.
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13. The Lions say they plan on scaling back the passing game in ’08, and will run the ball more.
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14. The best offer for Williams may not come till sometime in the 1st round Saturday.
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When you break it down, and add up the pieces, the answer is…Roy Williams will be wearing another uniform by Saturday night.

See? You just need to you look at it logically, trading Williams makes a huge amount of sense. Which is why, despite the math calculations, it won’t happen. Why? The Lions never do anything sensible.

Who’s running the war room, and making the critical draft decisions?

If you go by the off season moves so far (signing every available Buccaneer, trading Shaun Rogers, most signings were aimed at improving the defense and special teams), it’s obvious Rod Marinelli was calling the player personnel shots.

Which is why I’m guessing whatever player Marinelli wants to draft, he’s going to get. He has free reign. Honestly, this doesn’t bother me all that much, as the old system (Millen butchering the draft, going for flash, not substance) hasn’t been working for quite some time.

Then again, could this be Millen’s way of protecting himself, if the Lions have another awful season?

“Mr. Ford, I allowed Coach Marinelli to hand pick his players, draft whomever he wanted, and we still lost 10 games. I think it’s time for a change.”

No way, Millen’s not that smart…Or is he? Nah…

Which college player will be unlucky enough to have his career ruined before it starts be picked by the Lions Saturday?

Despite the asinine Matt Ryan rumors to the contrary, DE Derick Harvey is at the top of the Lions’ wish list.

Marinelli is a defensive coach, and his version of the Tampa Two requires a big time pass rush, preferably from the end. I think the Lions, their fanbase, and the media would all be happy if Harvey ended up a Lion.

But the odds of Harvey being on the board are shrinking by the day. It looks more and more like the Lions would have to move up into the top 10 to draft Harvey. That’s not going to happen.

So whom do the Lions draft? Over the past couple of months, we’ve seen mocks that have the Lions drafting anyone from running backs Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Stewart, linebackers Jerod Mayo and Keith Rivers, any of 4 different offensive linemen (Chris Williams, Ryan Clady, Jeff Otah, Brandan Albert), corner Aqib Talib, and of course, QB Matt Ryan.

Unfortunately for the Lions, it’s quite possible most, if not all, of these players could be gone by the 15th pick. The most likely to still be available are one of the 2 RB’s, Albert, Talib, and Mayo. The best players left out of that group are the running backs, but the biggest need that could be filled would be linebacker.

When I found myself in a similar position in Fan Sided’s mock draft, I took the best player left on the board who fills a need, who in my mind was Mendenhall. With Marinelli pulling the strings, and with his defensive mindset, the more I think about it, I believe he’s going to draft for the defensive side of the ball.

If that’s the list of players whom the Lions will have to pick from, I have a sneaking suspicion the Lions will take Jerod Mayo. The only reason I’d hedge my bet is due to Mayo being considered a lower 1st round pick, slotted to go somewhere in the 20′s. He’s a definite reach at 15. If the Lions could trade down, it’s likely Mayo would still be available. But trading down in the 1st round is a pipe dream, it rarely happens.

There’s also the possibility of a Roy Williams trade, which could give the Lions another 1st round pick, allowing them to draft a running back at 15, and still get Mayo later in the round.

But as things stand 3 days before the draft, given the Lions current situation, and who’s running the war room, I’ll go out on a limb, and say…

With the 15th overall pick of the 2008 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select: Jerod Mayo, linebacker, Tennessee.

I’m not sure I’d be totally happy with it, but all signs are pointing his way.

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