It’s no secret that dynasties and championship teams are build through the draft. Each year, teams find players in the middle and late rounds that turn into starters and Pro Bowl players. The same could be said about about drafting in the first round – the most sure-fire way to get a player to help improve your team immediately. Teams that miss in the draft, whether it be first round or the middle and late rounds, tend to not be playing in January. That’s why it’s so important the Lions strike gold in every draft, particularly this one after suffering a 4-12 season.
Looking at possible prospects that are projected in the top five: Geno Smith, Bjoern Werner, Luke Joeckel, Jarvis Jones, Star Lotulelei, Domontre Moore, and Barkevious Mingo, only one player stands out from other potential prospects at their respective positions, Luke Joeckel. Odds are Joeckel is off the board by the fifth pick with the Chiefs and the Eagles potential destinations for him. That leaves the Lions looking at pass rushers – the only position of need for the Lions that warrant a top five pick to this point. Some might argue in favor for Bjoern Werner or Domontre Moore, or even Barkevious Mingo, for the Lions, but none of these options makes sense for the Lions at five with the 2013 draft class stocked full of pass rushers with high ceilings. Lets take a look at Bjoern Werner, possibly the first pass rusher off the board, and pass rusher Ezekial Ansah, a mid to late first round projected pick. All stats are courtesy of CBS Sports.
Size: Bjoern Werner: 6’4″ 256, Ezikel Ansah: 6’5″ 270
Speed: Werner: 4.78, Ansah: 4.74
Werner: Started playing football at 15 and has started two full seasons for the Seminoles. Werner Tallied 35 tackles for loss, 23.5 sacks, 18 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles, two fumble recovers. What’s most impressive from a potential standpoint is Werner did most of his damage during his final season at FSU after dropping 20 lbs. Werner could just be tapping into his potential and speed off the edge with his more athletic body after dropping the extra weight.
Ansah: Only started in nine games this season, but played in all 13 recording 13 tackles for loss, eight pass break ups, six quarterback hurries and 4.5 sacks. Not quite the resume you’d like in your first round pick, especially with only one season of film, but considering his teammate Kyle Van Noy recorded 13.5 sacks, you could say defenses probably focused most of their efforts on containing Ansah. Scouts will also like the versatility Ansah will bring. BYU used Ansah at both end positions, all three linebacking positions, and even nose tackle. Ansah joined BYU as a member of the track team, and just completed only his third season ever playing football.
Werner may be the better player now, but he has nothing on Ansah’s size, speed, athleticism, explosiveness, and potential. Scouts also think Ansah has room to add to his 6’5″ 270 lbs frame without losing his speed and quickness. The Lions could improve with both players, but they could use the extra picks in the earlier rounds and drafting a player with the potential like Ansah would be hard to argue by fans and would make more sense for the Lions scheme as defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham covets speed rushers on the outside of his defensive line. In case you didn’t notice, Ansah is outweighs Werner by 20 lbs and still has a faster 4o time. Impressive considering Ansah could add even more weight to his frame without losing his explosiveness.
The Lions also need to address their biggest position of need, the secondary, early in the draft. The highest rated secondary player, Dee Milliner, may not be drafted in the top 10. With so much pass rushing talent flooded in the first and early second round, and not one secondary player projected in the top 10, and Luke Joeckel likely off the board before the fifth pick, why would the Lions stay at five?
It’s a long way until the 2013 draft with the NFL combine over a month away. Players will rise and fall as they always do, but it’s looking like there isn’t much the Lions can gain by sitting at the fifth pick in the draft come April. As the Lions scout the prospects, they would be wise also be looking for ways to move down and accumulate more quality picks.