The NFL’s version of Las Vegas’ World Series of Poker is right around the corner. By that, I mean don’t believe anything you read about next week’s NFL Draft. It’s all about smokescreens and poker faces from here on out. Since the Lions actually made the Playoffs last year and I expect that to be a regular occurrence as long as Matthew Stafford is leading this team, the draft is now my second favorite time of the NFL season.
The College football player’s version of “who wants to make me a millionaire!” is a lot more exciting when your team is picking in the middle of the draft than it was when the Leos were annually selecting in the top two. It was so boring knowing who the Lions would pick by the time the Super Bowl was played. Not this year. Everyone who ever threw a football has a different opinion of who the Lions will select with the 23rd pick.
Unlike the previous General Manager, who would predictably search the college campuses for the receiver most likely to be out of the league in 3 years, nobody has a clue what Martin Mayhew is thinking. I never thought in a million years that they would select Nick Fairley last year. But the again, who thought he would be there at 13? Just like that, the Detroit Lions established the identity of a team anchored by its fearsome defensive line. That’s what makes the NFL Draft one of the most exciting things in sports. Yes, I really said that.
Think about it: in the span of ten minutes, a franchise must decide who to take with the pick that will either jump start the team or set it back another couple of years if they miss on that selection. That’s a ton more pressure than simply winning or losing a game. Nobody has seen how the Draft affects your team’s win loss record more than the Lions. They were the joke of the league for the duration of Millen’s reign of terror. Look how fast they turned things around once Mr. Mayhew started running the show.
The Draft is an adult version of Christmas. I have my fingers crossed and I hope Santa [Martin Mayhew] can deliver a few offensive lineman that can run block and some corners that can cover NFL receivers. But you never know what Santa has up his sleeve. Are they really interested in Whitney Mercilus when they brought him to town for an interview or is that a little show for the rest of the league to see and throw them off the scent? Everybody in the league knows how Mayhew and Schwartz feel about defensive lineman. Or, could the Lions shock the world and draft a safety like Harrison Smith out of Notre Dame?
The Stakes are high for the Detroit Lions in this draft. I’m one of many who feel like this is the year that the Lions will step up and become one of the Big Boys on the playground. They’ll be the ones who’ll be imposing their will on other teams. That process starts with their first pick in the Draft. I can’t wait.