Fans hear a lot about need and value when NFL draft picks are discussed. This ignores one other important factor: Time.
Nick Fairley was taken for value, Titus Young was taken for need and Mikel Leshoure was a combination of the two. What they all have in common is an ability to contribute right away.
Friend of the blog Matt Schuler was able to squeeze some draft strategy out of coach Jim Schwartz with a tweet earlier today.
@mattschuler Five is okay, but we took Fairley, Titus, & Leshoure for their immediate contribution as well as long-term potential
The comment seems to support what we have seen out of Mayhew/Schwartz drafts. With their eyes fixed on the long term success of the Detroit Lions, they use the NFL draft to add as much talent to their roster as possible rather than worrying about plugging specific needs. The NFL draft is a team’s best chance to build a strong roster for the long haul, which means current needs shouldn’t be as big of a consideration as many believe.While they still need to find long term answers at cornerback and linebacker, they felt that their first three picks represented a greater upgrade to their roster overall.
The need for immediate impact players is especially important given the uncertain labor situation between the owners and players. Organized team activities appear certain to be wiped out completely this off-season so a coaching staff may not “get their hands on” the team’s draft picks until training camp. With Nick Fairley, Titus Young and Mikel Leshoure give the Lions the ability to hit the ground running when the lockout is lifted.
Whatever the reason, remember this: talent makes a team better and getting better is certainly a team need.