From all indications, the Detroit Lions want to take a running back during the 2015 NFL Draft. Given the release of Reggie Bush, their depth chart says as much, too.
Fortunately, the team picked the right year to be in the market for a young runner. A case could be made that there are 15 top prospects, all of whom could legitimately fit in within Detroit’s backfield, available to be drafted this season from the first until the fourth round.
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That dynamic should allow the Lions to think outside the traditional box during the first round on Thursday night. As the mock draft season has taken off, it’s been common to see players like Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon sent to Detroit with the 23rd pick.
Considering the other needs the Lions have and the depth at running back, both on their roster and in the draft however, it might not be wise for the team to go all-in on one of the early runners. Players such as Ameer Abdullah, Jay Ajayi, Duke Johnson, Tevin Coleman and Jeremy Langford could be just as good as the higher picks. And for those who wish to split hairs, David Johnson might be the best small-school prospect.
All of this combines to mean the one position Detroit could be extra choosy with is running back. Unless they’re far and away the highest players on the Lions board, the team doesn’t have to panic and take Gurley or Gordon in the first round if available. If neither player is there at 23, they also don’t have to reach, knowing they can get a quality talent in the next three rounds.
Detroit should be set up to have success at finding a quality runner this year, regardless of where they choose to draft him. The middle of the draft is so balanced it could make gambling on an injured Gurley in the first seem like a foolish decision.
Detroit should be set up to have success at finding a quality runner this year, regardless of where they choose to draft him.
In other words, there’s no reason to make a desperation move for a runner Thursday night. The Lions can play it coy and see what happens with Gurley and Gordon, while looking ahead to the next few rounds and realizing their chance of grabbing an impact back probably won’t take a hit until after the fourth round concludes.
If Gurley and Gordon are gone, it will hardly mean the end of the running back class. Arguably, after those two come off the board, the excitement will have only just begun.
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