Gone are the days of drafting a player by throwing darts at the “Big Board” while blindfolded. This could have been done in the not so distant past because of the lack of talent on the Lions roster and the amount of holes they needed to fill. Think about it, Matt Millen might have done better employing this strategy. Maybe he did, it all makes sense now. I can see Millen playing darts in his basement.
Honestly, the Lions were so devoid of NFL talent that they could have drafted from almost any position and addressed a need with the exception of wide receiver of course. Can you tell I am still bitter at how the Lions were handled between 2000 and 2008?
Enough of the past, let’s come to today. The Lions have a much more talented roster than they did three years ago and it shows in their level of competition and the overall on the field product. Now the pressure is on to be able to pinpoint an area of need and select the right players to fill those needs.
Most will say that the Lions need help in their back seven. The Lions play a 4-3 base defense which means they play a middle linebacker, a strong side linebacker and a weak side linebacker. It has been explained to me from a “source” that it is more like a right side, left side and a middle linebacker.
The Lions need help at the line backer spot, but the need a player that fits the 4-3 defense first and foremost. A player like Von Miller is an athletic freak but he is more suited to play in a 3-4 base defense. He might not fit what the Lions are looking for. Akeem Ayers is a better fit, but he is not ideal either.
They also need playmakers in their secondary and that means cornerbacks and safeties. Considering that they have Louis Delmas already, safety is not as pressing a need as cornerback is. It is conventional thinking that the Lions will address their first pick on a linebacker or a cornerback.
Another position that needs to be addressed is the offensive line. Jeff Backus is entering his 11th year and is the only player from the 2001 draft class to not miss a game. He has started 160 straight games. Dominic Raiola is also entering his 11th year at center. These guys are not getting younger and the line will need to be addressed.
The Lions need to be accurate in assessing their needs and then finding the player that most fits that need and that is not going to be as easy this year as in years past. As the talent on the team gets better it is harder to hit home runs in the draft. Also, drafting at No. 13 is much more difficult than drafting at No. 1 or No. 2.
It is obvious that Martin Mayhew has done a good job of drafting. He also has made good player personnel moves. This draft is important as the Lions are closer than they have been in some time. Already, experts are pinning them as a wildcard playoff team next year and finding a player in the draft at No. 13 will go a long way in helping that happen.
It will not be easy and it is a much tougher task than everyone is making it seem. Let’s hope that Martin Mayhew and company find a gem or two in the draft as they continue to build this team brick by brick, slowly but surely.
Personally I am hoping that the momentum they built last year continues but I am not looking at this coming season as a “playoffs or bust” type of season. If they have another good draft class, get a few solid free agents to come to Detroit and get some luck to go their way then those playoff predictions might come true. More importantly, it will allow this team to trend upwards which is something we all would like to see.