Detroit Lions stick to Best Player Available, again


May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Eric Ebron (North Carolina) reacts after being selected as the number ten overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Detroit Lions at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

You have to treat a draft like a seven game series. You might get blown out in the first game, like when the Lions defied logic and picked tight-end Eric Ebron with the tenth pick in the first round. You don’t lose a series after one game. The Detroit Lions rebounded somewhat in the later rounds to win the series–barely.

It appeared that the Lions had their sights set on either cornerback Justin Gilbert or linebacker Anthony Barr in the first round to bolster that defense, but they were both snatched up in picks eight and nine. Then, the Lions did what only the Lions would do in this situation. Most good NFL teams would have started working the phones to try to get some extra picks on a trade-down, and to get that defensive player a few spots lower. Not our Lions, they practically fell over themselves running up to the podium with the card that had Ebron’s name on it. Somewhere, Matt Millen was smiling ear to ear

Ironically, I don’t think Ebron is the most crucial aspect of Martin Mayhew keeping his job in the off-chance Ebron fails. No, that would be second round pick Kyle Van Noy, Ziggy Ansah’s roommate from BYU. Ebron can only have so much impact on an offense already loaded with weapons, as a rookie. For Mayhew’s sake, Van Noy had better be that playmaking beast on defense that we have been lacking for years. You know what? I think he can be that guy. He seems to do everything well. He covers and makes interceptions and blitzes and sacks, which sure doesn’t sound like anyone currently on the Lions roster. Van Noy actually had more sacks than number one pick Jadeveon Clowney during their college careers, 26 to 24.

Another reason Van Noy had better be good is that by trading up to get his services, they had to move back in the fourth round; a move back that ended up costing them a shot at a better cornerback prospect than Nevin Lawson from Utah St. Which leads us to the other controversial pick the Lions had: Travis Swanson in the third round. The Lions couldn’t get to a slew of defensive backs that went between Swanson with the 76 overall pick, and Lawson with the 133 overall pick. Had they taken better advantage of that third pick, and taken a db at that spot, and then taken a center with one of their fourth round compensatory picks at the end of the round, we wouldn’t hear things like Mayhew lamenting his costly mistake by saying “It was a long way down to those picks at the bottom.”

I see the Lions brain trust’s heads working here from a mile away. Since they got a stud interior lineman from the SEC in Larry Warford the third round last year, we’ll do it again this year. Works every time, right? Lets hope Swanson turns out, but we won’t know for a couple of years, because the Lions spent their third round pick on a guy who is going to sit on the bench and learn from Dominic Raiola in his rookie year.

The late round picks seem to be promising on paper. I’ve heard some really good things about fifth round pick defensive tackle Caraun Reid from Princeton. Seems like the Lions like to draft 6’7″ defensive ends in the fourth round. Larry Webster is a basketball player trying out for the football team–hope he makes it.

The new year always brings new hope that these new guys are the ones that will finally put us over the top and in contention for a Super Bowl.

Only time will tell.