Oct 26, 2013; Ames, IA, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys cornerback Justin Gilbert (4) looks on during the first quarter against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. Oklahoma State defeated Iowa State 58-27. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
For the past two weeks, most in Detroit have been discussing the possibility of drafting Sammy Watkins, Khalil Mack or even Jadeveon Clowney with regards to the Detroit Lions. Even in sports, sex sells, and those options are very sexy.
The most obvious question hasn’t been answered, though. What happens if Detroit isn’t able to trade up? What if they haven’t wanted to all along?
Lately, few have considered that option. There were a few rumors that the Lions would select North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, but considering they re-signed Brandon Pettigrew and have high hopes for Joseph Fauria, that might be a major smokescreen. Anthony Barr could be sliding, and the Lions could like the value they might find at linebacker later on in the draft.
All of that brings things back to what’s been square one: the cornerback position. Detroit has spent the offseason adding spare parts here and there, making it seem less and less likely that they would draft a corner—either Michigan State product Darqueze Dennard or Oklahoma State’s Gilbert—early on.
Yet Thursday, Gilbert was watching practice closely in Allen Park during his visit, and interestingly enough, Jim Caldwell spoke on the issues that plagued his top-flight cornerback Chris Houston last year and into this season, essentially admitting he didn’t know if Houston could recover good form.
"“I’m not certain,” Caldwell said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “You’re never 100 percent certain about anything. I can’t be certain if I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning. Tomorrow’s not promised to me, so I’m not certain. We’ll see. He’s a young man and typically they heal pretty quickly unlike old guys like me. But we anticipate he’ll come along, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”"
“Wait and see” is a scary proposition for the Lions, who face the devastating passing attack of Aaron Rodgers twice a year, and now have to deal with the Chicago Bears’ developing dynamic duo featuring Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. Additionally, Detroit will face the pass-happy New Orleans Saints, the Arizona Cardinals with Larry Fitzgerald and Tom Brady’s New England Patriots in 2014. In other words, somebody will have to be ready.
The fact that the Lions don’t seem to know much about Houston’s progress, nor know what to expect from anyone on the roster behind him is dangerous considering the NFL’s evolution into a passing league. Thus, at pick 10, if there’s no logical way for Detroit to move up without selling a spleen, the team might be content to grab Gilbert, a prospect with elite speed and size, and call it a day.
That move would certainly help take the pressure off Houston’s own recovery while adding another capable player to the mix. It’s not ideal to have a rookie cornerback learning on the job from day one (see Slay, Darius), but in a scenario where Detroit doesn’t seem to know much about the status of their top corner, the best move might be to add another one.
It wouldn’t be the sexiest thing Detroit could do on May 8, but it might end up being the most logical strategy for a needy position in the end.