The Detroit Lions look to improve their roster this weekend after a strong offseason. Martin Mayhew did everything he needed after their playoff lost to the Saints: he stayed the course. The Lions managed to keep nearly every key contributor from their 10-6 2011-12 team.
But this Thursday is the decisive point in the Lions offseason: the NFL draft. At the draft, Mayhew and the Lions front office have the task of pushing the team forward.
After delivering the franchise from the depths of an 0-16 season, Mayhew has built a good team. But this Thursday is different. It's phase two of "restoring the roar." It's the first step toward making these good, young Lions and making them great. The Lions have plenty of holes on the roster, especially in the secondary.
In an interview with mlive.com, Martin Mayhew said, "We're probably between four and seven guys we really feel comfortable with, that are great fits for us, and that we're very excited about having."
Who could these seven guys be?
At 6'1" and 200 pounds, Gilmore would be a big, rangy cover corner in the Lions' secondary. After an run of bad behavior from recent draftees Nick Fairly, Mikel Leshoure and Johnny Culbreath, the Lions could favor Gilmore's cool demeanor over other DB options at 23.
If anything can be learned from last season, it's that Matthew Stafford is the MVP of the Lions. He is the straw that stirs the drink for this team, so keeping him upright and healthy is paramount. Enter Stanford OT Jonathan Martin.
At 6'6" and 310 pounds, Martin is a physical beast in run-blocking situations. He is also a good pass-blocker, who protected Andrew Luck's left side at Stanford.
If the Lions take him at 23, Martin will be the heir apparent to Jeff Backus at left tackle and could find himself supplanting Godser Cherilus on the right side as soon as next season.
Although the Lions maintained their strong D-line for next season by giving Cliff Avril the franchise tag, the future of the position is in doubt. Avril has not signed a long-term deal, although negotiations are ongoing, and veteran Kyle Vandenbosch is getting older every day.
These facts make another first-round pick on the defensive line a realistic possibility, especially if the best player available is a defensive end.
Whitney Mercilus would add some significant speed and power to the line. A one-two-three punch of Suh, Fairly and Mercilus going forward would be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks in the NFC.
Pete Konz is a big, strong, nasty center. He is considered by many to be the best center prospect since Pittsburgh's Maurkice Pouncey.
The rationale for this pick is very simple. The most likely scenario for this draft is that at the 23rd pick the Lions will have some of the second and third players at positions of need, like tackle and corner.
If the Lions like Pete Konz as much as other scouts, they could very well move back in the draft to pick up another 2nd or 3rd round pick and take the best center prospect in the draft.