Detroit Lions NFL Draft Updates: Latest News, Trade Rumors, Storylines

Nick Kostora@@nickkostoraContributor IIIApril 17, 2012

Detroit Lions NFL Draft Updates: Latest News, Trade Rumors, Storylines

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    Anticipation for the 2012 NFL draft continues to mount and all the questions surrounding the Detroit Lions must find their conclusions soon.

    The Lions have been relatively quiet in free agency this offseason, but they made sure to take care of their own by inking lucrative deals with Calvin Johnson and Stephen Tulloch.

    After bringing back those two stars and placing the franchise tag on Cliff Avril, the common mindset seems to be that the team's remaining issues will be addressed through the draft.

    So whom is Detroit targeting at the top of the draft? And which players have too many problems to belong in the Honolulu Blue and Silver?

    Let's answer these questions and more as we break down everything related to the Lions draft.

Latest Lions Draft News, Rumors and Speculation

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    Pro Days

    The Lions coaches and personnel have kept busy this offseason by attending numerous high-profile pro days. Here are some of the more recent and intriguing visits by Detroit's staff.


    Alabama's Pro Day

    Lions GM Martin Mayhew was in attendance for the Crimson Tide's pro day, and Anwar Richardson reports it is the only such visit he plans on making.

    Alabama has plenty of first-round talent in RB Trent Richardson, SS Mark Barron, DE Courtney Upshaw and CB Dre Kirkpatrick.

    Kirkpatrick is a player often rumored to be a Lions target, and seeing a plethora of elite talent in one location is never a bad thing.


    South Carolina's Pro Day

    Detroit was just one of 30 NFL teams to attend the Gamecocks pro day. WR Alshon Jeffery, DE Melvin Ingram and CB Stephon Gilmore all worked out for scouts, but Gilmore is the one Lions fans should keep an eye out for.

    Detroit has a need in the defensive backfield and Gilmore is the type of playmaker who could make an immediate impact in the secondary.


    Fresno State's Pro Day

    Lions receivers coach Shawn Jefferson attended the Bulldogs pro day to get a better look at star receiver Devon Wylie and put him through drills for pass catching and returning kicks.

    Detroit's return game was notoriously bad last year as Stefan Logan lost any momentum he gained in 2010.

    Utilizing a guy like Wylie or a player already on the roster like Titus Young to return kicks is a viable option at this point.


    Virginia's Pro Day

    The Cavaliers hosted a rather ambitious pro day featuring a staggering 17 players. All 32 NFL teams were in attendance.

    The prospect to watch from the bunch has to be CB Chase Minnifield. He is an early- to mid-round talent that would fit nicely into the Lions defensive backfield.


    Florida State's Pro Day

    The Lions checked out the top Seminoles talent as 12 players worked out for NFL scouts.

    OT Zebrie Sanders would make a lot of sense for the Lions in the middle part of the draft, but guys like CB Mike Harris and OT Antwane Greenlee should be on the radar as well.


    Private Workouts

    Detroit has certainly had no problem bringing in a wide range of prospects for workouts. Here are the players the Lions have either already worked out or plan on giving a visit according to Pride of Detroit.

    RB LaMichael James (Oregon)—March 21
    RB Derrick Coleman (UCLA)—April 16
    WR David Douglas (Arizona)—April 11
    OT Kelechi Osemele (Iowa State)—March 13
    OT Mike Adams (Ohio State)—March 14
    OT Kevin Murphy (Harvard)—April 11
    OT Dennis Kelly (Purdue)—April 13
    OG Brandon Brooks (Miami Ohio)—March 12
    OG Amini Silatolu (Midwestern State)—March 20
    OG J.C. Oram (Weber State)—April 13
    DE Braylon Broughton (TCU)—March 19
    DE Whitney Mercilus (Illinois)—April 9
    DE Kaelin Burnett (Nevada)—April 10
    LB Zach Brown (North Carolina)—April 10
    CB Josh Norman (Coastal Carolina)—March 13
    CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama)—March 20 
    CB Keith Tandy (West Virginia)—April 13
    CB Isaiah Frey (Nevada)—April 16


    Prospects Lions Have Rumored Interest In

    CBS Sports Writer Jeff Reynolds believes defense will be the focus of Detroit's draft.

    Two options they’ve studied closely, Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama and South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore, are the kind of big, physical corners coach Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham prefer in a press-bump scheme. Both players are ready to start, whereas the next tier of prospects, including Trumaine Johnson (Montana), might have a steeper learning curve.”

    ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has Detroit taking Jonathan Martin with the 23rd pick.

    The Lions can't go wrong with either the best corner or tackle option here. In this scenario, Martin fits what they'll be looking for to bring the O-line up to par. An athletic tackle, he should develop into a great pass protector for Matthew Stafford. Jeff Backus has played forever, the Lions have enough pieces elsewhere and must target the line.

    Kiper's coworker Todd McShay has the Lions going back to the defensive end well and drafting Whitney Mercilus.

    The Lions put the franchise tag on DE Cliff Avril, and Kyle Vanden Bosch will be 34 this season, so now is the time to add an edge rusher to make sure their defensive line will remain a devastating force for years to come. Mercilus has quickness and a knack for big plays, but he is still developing and this would be a good situation for him.

Latest Lions Trade Rumors and Speculation

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    Acquiring Asante Samuel is reporting the Lions have real interest in bringing in CB Asante Samuel from the Philadelphia Eagles.

    The Eagles have a surplus of corners, and while Samuel's $9.5 million price tag for 2012 is higher than Detroit would like to dish out, the report also indicates Samuel would be willing to re-negotiate the contract if the landing spot were right.

    Obviously bringing in a player with the talent of Samuel would be an immediate upgrade to Detroit's secondary and could nullify the desire to draft a cornerback at the top of the draft.


    Dealing Alphonso Smith

    Just as talk of bringing in a high-profile player surfaces so does the rumor that Detroit may be looking to move CB Alphonso Smith.

    Jason La Canfora tweeted that Detroit is willing to part ways with Smith and has openly shopped him to at least one team.

    Smith is not the type of player who is going to start every play or be considered a "shutdown corner," but he does have his place in the Lions defensive rotation.


    Detroit may look to move up in first round

    Detroit Free Press beat writer Dave Birkett believes the Lions may look to move up in the first round to target a guy like Dre Kirkpatrick or Jonathan Martin.

    If Detroit values those players astronomically high then I understand the concept of moving up, but there are other prospects at both of those positions likely to be available at the Lions' current spot of No. 23.

Will Detroit Draft an Offensive Lineman First?

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    Offensive linemen Jeff Backus and Dominic Raiola have been mainstays along the Lions offensive line for seemingly forever, but age is quickly catching up with both of them.

    Younger talent is always eventually brought in to replace aging veterans and this draft would appear to provide a bevvy of potential options for Detroit to choose from along the offensive line.

    Players like center Peter Konz, guard Cordy Glenn and offensive tackles Jonathan Martin and Mike Adams have found their way onto numerous mock drafts for the Lions.

    Whether or not Detroit actually takes one of these guys in the first round may come down to whether or not any defensive backs it targets are left on the board.

    If Morris Claiborne, Dre Kirkpatrick and Stephon Gilmore are all drafted by the time pick No. 23 rolls around, the decision should become a lot easier for Lions management.

Can Detroit Afford to Gamble on a Troubled Prospect Like Janoris Jenkins?

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    With the recent marijuana charges surrounding recent Lions draft picks Nick Fairley and Mikel LeShoure, it would seem nonsensical to turn around and draft a player with known drug problems like Janoris Jenkins.

    Clearly Jenkins has the talent and skill to warrant a first-round selection, but his off-the-field troubles should be more than enough reason for Detroit to go another direction at No. 23. There are simply too many other viable options for the Lions to consider before taking a chance on Jenkins.

    Fairley and LeShoure are already members of the Lions organization and family and the leaders of the team will have to keep them in line, but adding another problem like Jenkins is unnecessary, to say the least.

Could Detroit Draft a Quarterback?

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    The short answer to this question is yes.

    The Lions have only two quarterbacks on the depth chart in Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill.

    Detroit clearly does not need a first-day QB to come in and compete, but filling out the depth chart is always important. Taking a guy in the later rounds to fill in the third spot behind Stafford and Hill makes sense. 

    A player like Russell Wilson would have good value at the back end of the draft and could become lucrative trade bait later on if the Lions develop him right.

So What Exactly Are Detroit's Need Areas?

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    The Lions lost Eric Wright to free agency and this was already a pressing need before his departure.

    Detroit has shallow depth and little talent to work with as the secondary stands right now. Securing a CB in the early portion of the draft would be a huge step in the right direction.


    Running Back

    Detroit has had all kinds of problems trying to find a working backfield.

    The members of the current stable have all had their assorted issues; Jahvid Best is often hurt, Mikel LeShoure has drug issues and has yet to take an NFL snap, and Lions management treats Kevin Smith's roster spot like a hot potato.

    Whether or not the Lions add another piece in the draft is uncertain, but stability is greatly needed in Detroit's backfield.



    One need area nobody seems to be talking about is linebacker.

    The Lions have a competent starting trio in DeAndre Levy, Stephen Tulloch and Justin Durant, but behind them the cupboard is surprisingly bare.

    Levy and Durant's contracts are up at the end of the season and Detroit would be wise to add some depth to the linebacker unit.


    Offensive Line

    Detroit needs to develop its future big men. Refer to slide four for further analysis.