Join us each day as we count down towards the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. The countdown runs from 50 to zero and the number of days remaining will inspire the post for that day. Think of this as your NFL draft paper chain that loses one link each day!
There has been a lot of talk about what the Lions should or could do in the 2011 NFL draft and there will surely be more of it over the final 33 days leading up to the event. A lot of the positions of target are determined by immediate needs. Cornerback and linebacker are obvious examples of this; anyone that watched the Lions play last year knows these are the two highest priority from a need standpoint. One other position has received a lot of attention as a potential target for the Lions with the 13th pick and it has a lot to do with the number 33.
Of course I’m talking about an offensive tackle. This draft lacks the elite sure-fire top five pick on the offensive line but there are plenty of prospects that may be worthy of being selected by the Lions. It may not be a primary position of need but the Lions would be wise to think ahead because Jeff Backus is currently 33 years old.
The ultimate decision as to which way the Lions will go with the pick will be dictated by value. I fully expect that they would draft cornerback Prince Amukamara if he were to slide through the firs twelve picks but it does not appear that another cornerback or linebacker will be theirs for the taking that is worthy of being selected so high. Martin Mayhew has shown that he places a high value on the draft and will not be willing to reach for a player simply because of need like his predecessor may have done. Should the Lions find themselves in a position where their primary needs do not line up with their draft board then it will be time to look at secondary needs and the offensive line is where board and need will meet.
Jeff Backus played well last year but he will not play forever and taking a proactive approach to acquire his ultimate replacement is in the organization’s best interest. In the meantime, that new player may have the opportunity to play on the right side of the line depending on the health status of Gosder Cherilus. The names to keep in mind are Nate Solder, TyRon Smith, Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod.