While the reported list of players that the Lions interviewed at the Senior Bowl is probably not exhaustive, it does appear heavy on offensive linemen, particularly tackles, and running backs. Doug Martin, Chris Polk and Daniel Herron are known to have talked with members of the Lions organization the same week that reports surfaced suggesting doubt as to whether or not Jahvid Best ever plays football again.
The unavailability of Jahvid Best would certainly represent a problem, but I’m not convinced that drafting another running back is the solution to that problem.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see an improved running game from the Lions. I won’t go so far as to say the offense has to be balance but the threat of a running game makes the entire offense more explosive. The Lions organization feels the same way as evidenced by the comparisons Jim Schwartz made between his team and the New Orleans Saints. However, he talked a lot about the Saints’ running backs and not about their pair of Pro Bowl guards. It’s a point I discussed about three weeks ago.
The running back position, more than many others, is one where draft position is not necessarily an indication of how that player’s career will unfold. Add in the relative short career span of an NFL running back and the general de-emphasis of the position, especially when you have a talent like Matthew Stafford, and it doesn’t make sense for the Lions to look for another running back in the top half of the draft.
If the offensive line is opening up big holes the only thing required of the running back is to run through it. That limited skill set is not worthy of a high draft pick. The player that can open up such a hole is. That’s one of the reason’s I went with Wisconsin center Peter Konz for the Lions in my latest mock draft. He’s a road grader type interior offensive lineman that could push for playing time at guard and take over for Dominic Raiola at center. Unless Konz’s stock rises to the point that it looks like he won’t be available for the Lions, I’m not likely to back off that pick in subsequent mocks [editorial note: Wes Bunting released his second mock today and he has Konz going 14th to the Cowboys]. None of the three running backs mentioned above would be vying for that spot anyway, but some teams could look at them in options in the second or third round. The Lions should not be one of those teams.
Perhaps the Lions are just doing their due diligence in case they find themselves in a position on draft day where one of the running backs they talked to represents a value too great to pass up. Martin Mayhew has certainly earned our trust so I’m willing to take a wait and see approach. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a strong opinion right now.