2014 NFL Draft: Should The Detroit Lions Go Offense Or Defense In The First Round?


Feb 21, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew speaks to the media in a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last several months we’ve been debating if the Lions should trade up or move back in the 2014 NFL draft. Then there’s the debated of whether the Lions should target offense or defense. The majority of fans would like to see the Lions target wide receiver Sammy Watkins, but there are also those that remain firm on the idea of drafting defense with a player like Khalil Mack, HaHa Clinton-Dix or Justin Gilbert.

Let’s make the case for both.

The case for offense

With proven players like Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, and Brandon Pettigrew, there hardly seems like a need for an offensive weapon, but a deeper look tells you that isn’t the case. We’ve witnessed the direction the offense goes without Calvin Johnson and it’s not pretty. It’s time the Lions get Calvin Johnson a true running mate to relieve the burden they put on him every game. By drafting a player like Sammy Watkins they ensure that Matthew Stafford has a legit number one receiver for the next decade and provide the offense with depth should Johnson miss any game time. The only question is to whether the Lions feel he’s worth the assets it would cost the Lions in the draft to move up which would likely include a second round pick – a steep price to say the least.

The Lions could also stay put and potentially draft Mike Evans who is a greater risk than Watkins, but could develop into a number one wide receiver, or one of the tackles that slide down to ten. They could trade out of the tenth overall spot, but I think it would be hard to validate drafting a receiver or tackle later in the first round unless one of the top players fall.

The case for defense

It’s easy to make the case for defense. It’s the weaker unit on the Lions roster, particularly in the back four, but there’s also a question mark at defensive end and at outside linebacker. Given the needs of the team drafting defense would be the safer pick. Corners and safeties like Justin Gilbert and HaHa Clinton-Dix can likely be had by staying put or trading back which gives the Lions more picks in a deep class. The Lions likely don’t target a player like  Khalil Mack, unless he falls to five or six which would likely be a cheaper trade then a move up for Watkins.

My Verdict

If I were Lions G.M. Martin Mayhew I would bite the bullet and trade up for Watkins. His high character, speed, and player type are exactly what new head coach Jim Caldwell said he was looking for in his introductory press conference. The pairing of Watkins with the personnel on the current roster would give the Lions a super bowl caliber offense. If the Lions chose to go defense, I’m not sure the improvements would be as dramatic, even if the Lions were able to acquire a player like Mack.

Then there’s also the possibility that the Lions target both offense and defense in the first round. By staying put or trading back, the Lions would have the resources available to get themselves back into the end of the first round to select a player if there is one that they really like.

We’ve made the case now it’s time for you to decide. Which direction do you think the Lions should go in the first round?