Detroit Lions 2012 Dream Draft: The Bill Belichick Way

James Van Etten@jbvanettenContributor IApril 24, 2012

Trading down and amassing additional picks has been the mantra of Bill Belichick during his time in New England, and this year’s draft may allow the Detroit Lions to follow the same philosophy.

The guy knows a little bit about accumulating talent and getting to the big game. Belichick has coached in eight Super Bowls and has earned five rings, three with the Patriots and two with the New York Giants.

Just think would could have been if he would have stayed with the Detroit Lions.

Oh, you didn’t know? Yes, Belichick was an assistant coach for the Lions from 1976-77.

Granted, it’s safe to assume his career took a turn for the better when he was kept on the Giants coaching staff in 1983 by some no-name called Parcells, but historical conjecture is always fun.

This year’s draft offers multiple night-one scenarios for the Lions to move back in the draft and accumulate mid-round selections. These hypothetical transactions are plausible given the participants and their needs.

Peter King from Sports Illustrated has popularized a theory that the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens could be willing trade partners this Thursday night.

The Ravens enjoy their image of a dominant defensive football team led by an intimidating middle linebacker, but Ray Lewis is coming to the end of his career and Dont’a Hightower could be the replacement at pick No. 23

This move would cost the Ravens their third-round pick, but in the process they would thieve the Alabama prospect from their AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers, who hold the No. 24 selection.

I’m not breaking any new ground here by saying this deal has a very strong possibility.

However, while sitting at No. 29, Jim Schwartz could get a call from his former boss, first-year St. Louis Ram’s head coach Jeff Fisher, who could be looking to make a splash and get back into the first round and move up from No. 39 to 29.

Fisher and the St. Louis Rams have picks to play with after trading out of the second overall selection and every first-year coach wants to put his stamp on his new team.

With DT and WR being positions of need for the Rams, Jerel Worthy from Michigan State and Stephen Hill from Georgia Tech could still be on the board. If the Rams pass on Justin Blackmon early Thursday night, this scenario instantly gets more traction for a late evening maneuver.

The Rams do also hold the No. 33 pick, but trading that pick is like giving away the Willy Wonka golden ticket.

The first pick of night deux in the draft carries extra weight as teams will reevaluate their big boards overnight and be willing to trade up to get into that first pick Friday night. There will be offers for the pick and a move is possible, but if there’s a surprise player left out of the first round the Rams like, it’s a fiscal steal; the Rams will be in a can’t-lose situation.

For the move to No. 39, the Lions would give Fisher and the Rams a mild discount and accept their fourth-round pick as compensation.

With these two scenarios in mind, along with the drafting philosophies of Martin Mayhew, following is how the Detroit Lions can take full advantage of the “Greed is Good" drafting technique. 



First Selection: 2.07 (39), Amini Silatolu (OG, Midwestern State)

The big man from the small school has steadily been climbing the draft boards since he turned in one of the best combine performances by an offensive lineman this year. I had targeted him as a player to watch prior to the combine and he has not disappointed.

The Lions brought him in for an official visit and King’s moles in Allen Park have apparently given him a big “thumbs up” on Silatolu, and I’m completely on board.

The Lions offensive line has been neglected long enough; it’s time to start bringing in healthy understudies that can protect the franchise quarterback when the time comes. 



Second Selection: 2.22 (54), LaMichael James (RB, Oregon)

I’m not enamored with this pick and if you’ve read my previous thoughts on running backs, you know why. However, this pick becomes much more palatable after gaining two additional picks.

Jim Schwartz loves the home run capability of a guy like James, and truth be told, the Lions offense did have a much different look with Jahvid Best in the backfield last year.

James is the closest thing to a genetically engineered clone of Best and Best's concussion history lends itself to having his replacement on the roster when the inevitable occurs and Best is sitting on the bench and being asked what day it is.



Third Selection: 3.22 (85), Josh Norman (CB, Coastal Carolina)

Martin Mayhew said the draft was deep at corner and Norman is one of the reasons Detroit can wait to select a CB.

With his 6’0”, 203-pound frame, Norman can use his better-than-average size to jam receivers at the line to get an early advantage but has shown great footwork and technique playing off the ball with fluid hips and excellent ball skills. 


Fourth Selection: From Baltimore 3.29 (91), Brandon Mosley (OT, Auburn)

The former JUCO defensive end made the switch to tight end when he transferred to Auburn; then the coaching staff strapped him in at the training table, and Mosley has now blown up to a robust 314 pounds and was one of the highlights of the combine for offensive linemen.

Having 34” arms, Mosley has the length to keep defensive ends at bay and keep Matt Stafford upright, but because of his limited playing time at the position, he will be available after the premier tackles are off the board.



Fifth Selection: From St. Louis 4.01 (96), Cam Johnson (DE, Virginia)

At 6’3” and 271 pounds with a wingspan of nearly 80”, Johnson is your prototypical 4-3 defensive end.

The Lions were at the Virginia pro day to not only see Chase Minnifield, but Johnson as well.

One of the hardest working edge-rushers in college football and a proven ability to relentlessly pursue quarterbacks from the blind side, as well as track down ball-carriers on the other side of the field, Johnson has the proverbial “motor that never quits.”

With an explosive burst and a thick trunk that allows lower body power, Johnson has excelled in both wide and power rushes and would be an ideal fit for the aggressive front-four scheme of Gunther Cunningham where he can slant and stunt with Ndamukong Suh.



Sixth Selection: 4.22 (117), Devon Wylie (WR, Fresno State)

Wylie is sneaking up a few draft boards, but with the additional picks the Lions can safely select him at the end of the fourth round.

The 5'8" receiver, who—if physically possible—could be the love child of Wayne Chrebet and Wes Welker, is an immediate upgrade for the fourth receiver spot for Detroit. Wylie is an ideal slot guy who is extremely quick, easily finds his way through traffic and is immediately at full speed after the catch.

Full speed as in 4.39 40 speed. The kid can fly.

And, pound for pound, Wylie is one of the strongest receivers coming out, with 17 reps on the bench at a feathery 187 pounds. 



Seventh Selection: 5.23 (158), Jaye Howard (DT, Florida)

Howard was viewed as a seventh-rounder just a couple months ago, but his tremendous upside keeps him moving up the draft.

Big and athletic, but prone to take plays off, Howard is a dream late-round gamble. The defensive tackle weighs in just over three bills, so he automatically becomes a nice space eater.

However, it’s the speed and quickness that impresses. At the combine, Howard ran a 4.82 40. Let’s put that in perspective: That’s the fourth-fastest 40 time for a defensive tackle and only .03 behind Fletcher Cox, who now is projected to go in the first round.

A perfect three-technique tackle, Howard is best when penetrating and using his natural quickness but can play anywhere up and down the line. A great attribute for a Jim Schwartz D-lineman.

Also, keep  your eye on Senio Kelemete, an OG from Washington. The Lions have an interest, and if he falls to the late fifth, Detroit could grab another guard.



Eighth Selection: 7.12 (219), Danny Trevathan (OLB, Kentucky)

The first linebacker in Kentucky history to earn All-American honors, Trevathan should be Ashley Judd’s favorite gridiron hero.

His senior campaign of 143 tackles was best in the SEC, a feat he has accomplished in two consecutive years.

He’s been All-SEC for two years. Not all C-USA or All-MAC, but Southeastern Conference, the best in college football. He wasn’t even invited to the East-West Shrine game or the Senior Bowl, but he did participate at the combine.

An explosive, physical tackler who routinely comes up with the “splash” play, Trevathan is a textbook playmaker. However, at 6’1" he’s not the tallest. Then again, neither was Chris Spielman.



Ninth Selection: 7.23 (230), Aaron Corp (QB, Richmond)

Corp has the physical tools to play on Sundays and his workouts have moved him up into a potential late-round selection.

He has prototypical height at 6'3", and his 215-pound frame could use some muscle mass, but Corp has shown good arm strength in workouts and abilities to move in the pocket and be accurate on the run.

The Lions will not have any undrafted quarterbacks banging on their door for a chance to sit third behind a 24-year-old superstar. So, if Detroit wants anything more than a clipboard connoisseur, it's going to have to use a late-round flier on a guy with blemishes, but who also flashes some natural ability.


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