In a matter of a few short days the Lions added several playmakers to their roster. That cannot be denied. However, did the Lions do the right thing by adding overall value to their team and ignoring holes or are they now only capable of warning track power?
The Lions ignored several glaring holes on their roster at cornerback and took a linebacker and offensive tackle in the later rounds. It seems the front office went with the “best player on the board” mentality for this draft. They decided to draft a once projected first overall pick with their first round pick in Nick Fairley. Adding tremendous strength to the defensive line and could make them a force to be reckoned with in the coming season. But with this pick the Lions completely ignored the cornerback position where there is a severe lack of talent and you had the second rated corner still on the board in Prince Amukamara. However, it can be said that a great quarterback pressuring D-line can make a mediocre corner look like an all-pro. We can only hope.
Moving to the second round the Lions decided to draft a speedy wide receiver in Titus Young. There is a need at wide receiver but many thought they would fill this need in the later rounds. However, this is a great value pick. He adds depth to our wide receiver core and adds the down the field threat the Lions are looking for. This will in theory take safety help away from Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson and open up the field. Again, ignoring the hole at offensive tackle is walking on thin ice. With your franchise quarterback just coming back from a severe shoulder injury, shoring up the offensive line looks like a sure and safe bet. However you cannot argue with the play making ability of this pick.
The trade with Seattle was a surprise and thoughts ran wild as to who they were moving up to take Mikel Leshoure, a big strong back with some skills similar to current NFL backs such as Rashard Mendenhall and Laurence Maroney. This wasn’t the most pressing need on the roster but pretty much puts an end to both Kevin Smith and Maurice Morris. This pick should be followed by the question of; “can the offensive front open up holes for him” The Lions had problems with this last year and didn’t do much to improve the poor run blocking. Again, it is tough to dispute this pick given the talent level.
They had to wait till the fifth round to pick again and they went with Douglas Hogue a linebacker out of Syracuse. The Lions saw some good talent come off the board in the time they had to wait and when the pick came he was the best player on the board. He is not ready to contribute right away but will add depth and hopefully can be groomed into a decent player. Waiting to take tackle Johnny Culbreath out of South Carolina in the 7th round gives us the idea that they are confident in the knee of Cherilus and the age of Backus. He is a nice player to still be on the board this late and could be taught to be a good backup player and has some upside.
The Lions received praise from the media and football experts alike for this draft. They added a great player in the first round to an already formidable defensive front. They gave Matthew Stafford some more weapons to work with in the second round and filling holes in the later rounds at linebacker and offensive tackle. A few questions can be asked after the Lions finished the 2011 NFL draft. The first one being, “Did the Lions get too caught up in the best player available draft strategy?” The next being, “Now knowing the holes that need to be filled, how active will the Lions be in free agency if the lockout is lifted?”