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The NFL draft used to be referred to by Lions' fans as their “Super Bowl.” Now with the turnaround of the franchise, it might just be the last piece of the puzzle for a Super Bowl run.
The Lions will head into the 2012 draft with a nearly full chamber of bullets as they take aim at several 20-somethings who could help their football team.
Detroit has a pick in each of the first five rounds and two picks in the seventh and final round.
With 21 of the 22 offensive and defensive starters returning, the Lions would be happy coming away from the draft with one or two starters, a couple situational replacements and a few developmental projects.
This regime has proven their ability to turn second and third-day selections into viable contributors as opposed to the past when most players drafted after day one were destined for the scrap heap.
Detroit might fare even better if there are legs to a report that the Lions might still have interest in Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel.
The Lions were rumored to have tried to trade from Samuel last year, but the Eagles’ asking price of second-day draft picks was too high.
Samuel’s $9.5 million salary would keep the Lions out of any potential trade this year, but Samuel is reportedly willing to renegotiate his deal to get himself out of Philly.
Could the Lions sneak in and get Samuel for a fourth-round pick with a Sammie Lee Hill or Corey Williams kicker?
Absolutely. The Eagles are looking for another defensive tackle, and RFA Hill would be a cap-friendly move for Philly. Corey Williams would make the deal more palatable for Detroit by sending $5 million back east, even though Mayhew has publicly stated he has no intentions on trading Williams.
The Lions know they need help at corner and are willing to make moves come draft weekend. In last year’s draft, Mayhew tried to move up and get Patrick Peterson in the first round, but he ultimately went to the Cardinals with the fifth pick.
Situations change, and if the Lions still think Samuel at 31 can help the team, they will make a play for him but don’t expect any movement until closer to the draft as most teams have recoiled to see how the draft will shake out before they make any more significant free-agent moves.
Nevertheless, this year’s draft is deep in both the Lions’ position of need, cornerback, and their favorite position to draft—defensive tackle.
Expect Martin Mayhew and his staff to add value to the team again this year and churning the bottom of the roster with young talent should continue to help improve the Lions.