The pool of prospects from which the Detroit Lions and the rest of the NFL will have their pick won’t officially be set until January 15 when the deadline for underclassmen to declare passes.
That being said, the players likely to go in the top five have already declared, the last to do so was Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel who announced his intention to enter the draft today.
Joeckel is regarded as a top-five pick but that doesn’t mean laving school was an easy decision. From the Texas A&M release:
“This was a very difficult decision for me,” Joeckel said as he traveled to Omaha to take part in the Outland Trophy ceremonies. “I have thought long and hard and visited with my family and coaches. I feel it is in my best interest to come out. I appreciate all that Texas A&M has done for me and my family. It is tough to leave a great group of coaches and players, including my twin brother Matt. I know they will have a great season in 2013 and I will remain their biggest fan.”
Joeckel has a chance to be the number one overall pick in April, but there is a chance he would be available for the Lions when they get on the clock. That might seem odd considering they used their 2012 first round pick on Riley Reiff. With Jeff Backus aging and Gosder Cherilus without a contract, the Lions could draft Joeckel to solidify both tackle spots to protect Matthew Stafford for the next decade.
Perhaps more realistic, however, is that the Lions look to another former Texas A&M Aggie with the fifth overall pick. Defensive end Damontre Moore announced his decision to enter the NFL Draft before the Cotton Bowl.
While the Lions can help meet their needs at tackle by re-signing Gosder Cherilus, improving their pass rush is more likely to take an external candidate or two. Kyle Vanden Bosch doesn’t seem to have much left and Cliff Avril couldn’t match his 2011 production. Behind them, Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young don’t appear poised to add the kind of dynamic pass rushing threat the Lions need.
The Lions current situation suggests that Damontre Moore makes more sense than Luke Joeckel but either player looks to be a very good choice with the fifth overall pick.