Jan 15, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell speaks during a press conference at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Hallelujah, draft week is finally here. The draft is the Super Bowl for those of us who follow the Honolulu Blue and Silver, for obvious reasons, and the two week delay compared to previous years made it seem like it would never get here. This is an extremely important draft for Martin Mayhew and the Lions, because they had a very productive draft last year to build on, then let go of Jim Schwartz in favor of a more experienced head Coach in Jim Caldwell.
If the Lions have a Draft like they did last year, to fill in the holes they have – mostly in the back seven – combined with the exciting new schemes that Joe Lombardi and Teryl Austin will bring, the Lions could be poised to shock the NFL this season. That’s not such a big IF, when you think about it. They just have to tweak the offense a little and straighten up Matthew Stafford‘s mechanics. Throw a majority of your draft picks in the back seven and you have a playoff team right away.
To get the desired results from this draft, the Leos are going to have to navigate the craziest draft in recent memory. Nobody has a clue where anyone is going for certain. The assumption is that Jadeveon Clowney is going number one, but will the Falcons or someone else trade up to get him? Are the Rams really going to pass on Sammy Watkins and take a Tackle? Does anyone have any idea what Cleveland is going to do at four? Will they pass on Johnny “Football” Manziel? I hope Minnesota doesn’t take him at eight, because I don’t want to see him twice a year.
The natural ebb and flow of the Draft is starting to harden now that we’re merely days away from the actual event. It appears the Lions might be in a bit of a pickle regarding what they need, and that dreaded draft word: Value. Players like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Justin Gilbert probably don’t represent enough value to be picked that high, but the Lions desperately need players like that. What to do, what to do. I hope they don’t just look at their value chart and select a player that way; the old reliable “Best Player Available”.
I have to admit that I’ve always had a problem with “Trade-Down” guy–the guy who insists that the best strategy for the Lions is to trade-down and get extra picks, because he wants to sound smart and doesn’t have a clue who’s available in the draft at all. “Trade-Down” guy is in luck this year, because that looks like the Lions best way to fill their needs. I don’t like trading back because you’re getting lesser talent, but the Lions need to improve that back seven so much that trading back to sacrifice some quality for quantity is a good idea this year.
The biggest problem I’ve had with “Trade-Down” guy’s philosophy is that you have to have a team that WANTS to trade up to dance with you, otherwise you’re wasting your phone calls. The Lions are in luck; the quarterbacks are sliding and Tennessee is sitting there at eleven, licking their chops hoping one them falls in their lap. Does somebody just might want that Lions pick to beat them to the punch? If the Lions do trade down, another name to look out for is outside linebacker Ryan Shazier from Ohio State.
The suspense is just starting. There are a lot of questions that will be answered by the end of the week. Is my head going to explode when I hear that name for the Lions first pick–or will I cheer? That’s what makes the Draft great.