What if I told you in order to draft successfully in the top 10 of the NFL Draft you only had to focus on one position? You would probably say I was crazy. But when looking forward to this year’s draft (and specifically what the Lions need) all you really need to pay attention to is one position: Quarterback.
How could this be? The Lions just paid Matthew Stafford and certainly not every team in the top 10 will be taking a quarterback. This is true. Not everyone will be looking for a quarterback, but what everyone should be focusing on revolves entirely around the quarterback position.
In order to make a successful draft pick in the top of round one, teams must do the following:
1.) Draft a Quarterback
If you’re a team in need of a quarterback this need trumps all others. It also may cause you to be blind to the reality that the quarterback you’re thinking about taking isn’t really that good when you stack him up against those around him. Nevertheless, year after year teams make the mistake of over drafting quarterbacks in order to hopefully strike gold. Because if there’s one thing in the NFL that consistently rings true it’s this: If you don’t have a good quarterback, you don’t have anything.
2.) Protect the Quarterback
There’s a reason the projected top picks are often either a quarterback or left tackle. Last year we even saw two guards, yes guards, get drafted in the top ten. Protecting the quaterback may be the second most important thing for teams to invest in. What’s the use of having millions of dollars invested in a guy if he’s constantly on him back. Just ask Jay Cutler how that worked out for him over his first few years in Chicago.
3.) Disrupt the Quarterback
If you don’t need a quarterback and your offensive line is fairly well in place then you shift your focus to the other side of the line. One thing the Lions, and other teams like the Giants in past years, haven’t been afraid to do is stockpile defensive lineman. Why? Because cornerbacks and safeties can only cover for so long. If you don’t have a pass rush, opposing quarterbacks will pick your defense apart. A dominant pass rusher is a must for teams on defense. More traditionally that comes from an edge rusher (DE or OLB) but in recent years there has been more of an influx of pass rusher from the interior. Guys like Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy were the most recent interior rushers to go in the top 10.
4.) Help the Quarterback
Unless the player transcendent (i.e. Calvin Johnson) I would pass on these types of players until later in the draft. In recent years the running back position has almost become entire extinct in the first round let alone the top 10. And with more junior talent entering the draft depth at the wide receiver and running back positions may cause teams to hold off on these types of players until the later rounds. Another possibility could be drafting a tight end. With more teams expanding their role, it’s becoming more important to have a guy in the middle of the field that can not only be an outlet for your quarterback, but also a dynamic chess piece to game plan around.
5.) Intercept the Quarterback
Personally, I have a draft philosophy that you should always build from the trenches out. So start with both your offensive and defensive lines and build out from there. If you’re expecting a rookie cornerback to contribute immediately you’re most likely going to be disappointed. It takes a while for cornerbacks to transition to the NFL, but if you’re willing to draft a talented college cornerback and develop him this can be a smart move. There have been a few safeties go in the top of round one in recent years, but overall it takes a unique talent to crack the top 10.
Where do you think the Lions fall in this 5 step guide?