With 17 days left until the almighty draft, we are entering the home stretch and the smoke is starting to clear as to who the Detroit Lions will draft with the 5th pick in the first round. It’s apparent to the ardent draftnik that the Lions will likely select either Eric Fisher (Tackle, Central Michigan) or Ziggy Ansah (Defensive End, BYU). Dee Milliner (Cornerback, Alabama), Lane Johnson (Tackle, Oklahoma) or Dion Jordan (Defensive End, Oregon) have outside chances of being selected if Fisher and Ansah are gone by the time the Lions pick.
Mel Kiper just came out with his latest mock draft and has the Lions taking CB Dee Milliner with Eric Fisher still on the board. Sorry Mel, I love you and your hair but you don’t have a clue as to what you’re talking about. There is no way Martin Mayhew is going to take a corner over a franchise left tackle. Mayhew invested three picks in corners last year and only one played any significant time. He’s going to see what he has in those guys, plus he seems to think corners are a dime a dozen. Deion Sanders was a number 5 pick and that’s about the right stuff for a top five pick. The Lions tried picking a corner at 5 in 1997 and ended up with one-contract-and-done Bryant Westbrook.
NFL guru Gil Brandt was once asked, “if you’re starting a team from scratch, obviously your first choice to build a football team is to take a quarterback. What position would you take second?” Brandt answered quickly “A left tackle.” I’ve been reading the Lions forums from fans and a lot of them are assuming that the Lions already have a left tackle in Riley Reiff so pass on Fisher and take the best DE on the board. Pro Football Focus has stats for every conceivable thing you could imagine associated with playing football. They even have one that figures out a lineman’s grade. They had a good overall rating for Reiff for the year at a +6.3. During the two weeks he spent at Left tackle, his rating was a -4.7. It is a very small sample size but that explains the “rumors” of Reiff being switched over to guard. If Reiff was a sure-fire left tackle he wouldn’t have slid so the Lions could take him at 23 in last year’s draft.
The biggest question of the draft for the Lions is if Fisher is going to even be there for the Lions at 5. The Kansas City Chiefs seem committed to tackle Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M with the first pick, Jacksonville and Oakland are probably thinking defense when it’s their turn to pick. The big question is what is Philadelphia going to do with the 4th pick?
If the Eagles don’t take Fisher, then the Lions will have to decide between him or Ziggy Ansah. Even if Fisher is the most logical pick for the Lions, Mayhew has shown his intentions of building a dominant defensive front line. Adding the athletic Ansah to the money already invested in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley might make a lot of sense to Mayhew.
I really don’t think it’s much of a decision here for the Lions. Jeff Backus did the Lions a huge favor retiring before the draft. If Eric Fisher is there, the Lions should run not walk to the podium with that card. I would sleep a lot better knowing that the Lions have Matthew Stafford‘s back for the rest of his career.