Trading Back Would Make Sense For Lions in 2017 Draft
By Matt Urben
The Detroit Lions have a good chance to land either a top-tier linebacker or defensive lineman with the 21st pick in the first round of the 2017 Draft. However, some of the team’s targets may not be available, leaving Detroit with two options, as far as I’m concerned.
The strength of this draft is probably in the 25-45 range. In other words, if the Lions were to trade back into one of those spots, they could fill their need at linebacker with potentially Zach Cunningham, or Raekwon McMillan without reaching.
First, they could simply take the best player available, regardless of position (outside of quarterback), and worry about needs in the later rounds. This strategy could result in the team taking anything from running back to one of the top wide receivers that may fall if there is a run on defensive players early.
Fans are in love with guys like Haason Reddick and Taco Charlton, but defensive talent doesn’t always fall the way analysts like Mel Kiper predict. So, with that in mind, I see the second option for Detroit as trading back to either the early first or late second-round.
They could likely get an additional 2nd-4th round pick, depending on how far they move back. The strength of this draft is probably in the 25-45 range. In other words, if the Lions were to trade back into one of those spots, they could fill their need at linebacker with potentially Zach Cunningham, or Raekwon McMillan, without reaching for them. As Ryan wrote recently, there are plenty of linebacker options throughout this 2017 Draft class.
If the Lions do stay at 21, they need to hope they can get an edge rusher or an immediate upgrade at linebacker, potentially someone like Florida’s Jarrad Davis. There’s also a chance that one of the top corners could fall since this class is loaded at the top with secondary talent. If a top-rated defensive back, such as Ohio State’s Gareon Conley is there, Bob Quinn should consider that as well.
It is, however, a realistic possibility that none of those top defensive targets are available, leaving Detroit in position to take a running back, wide receiver or heaven forbid, another pass-catching tight end. It would be disappointing to most fans, yet this could be the smartest course of action if the Lions can’t trade back. Moving down should be under serious consideration, though, if there are limited defensive options available at 21.
Plus, it would help Detroit replenish their talent and depth on defense — something missing since they were the second-ranked unit in 2014 — throughout the first three rounds by acquiring additional picks. Quinn stood pat last season, but that was a Lions team with lower expectations. As we all know, that changed when the Lions added about $17 million annually to the right side of their offensive line, with Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang signing in free agency. When expectations change, you can expect the unexpected in the draft.
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