Detroit Lions Draft: 6 Things That Must Happen in Final Rounds
The Detroit Lions have their 2012 first-round pick in the books.
Show of hands: Who had Riley Reiff?
Better question: Who had David DeCastro falling to No. 23 and the Lions taking Riley Reiff?
It's a good pick, and the Lions are lucky to have gotten the second-best offensive tackle in the draft without moving from No. 23. But this is only the start (and my detailed analysis/grades will be coming Sunday afternoon).
There are still six rounds to go and infinite possibilities after a wild, trade-laden first.
So with the Lions presumably securing Jeff Backus' long-term replacement (and maybe a short-term upgrade on the right side), what else do the Lions need to address over the rest of this weekend?
Shore Up the Secondary
The Lions' greatest perceived need in this draft is the secondary. Whether it's their actual biggest need, I don't necessarily think so, but it's perceived that way.
But the first night of the draft is complete, and while the Lions made a good value pick, they still have some issues in the defensive backfield.
Now, I've said repeatedly that the cornerback need has been badly overblown because of the way the Lions finished last season. But that doesn't mean that I didn't want them to take a cornerback, just that they shouldn't have the blinders on to everything else.
With only three cornerbacks and two safeties off the board in the first round there is certainly plenty of talent left for the Lions to sift through, and I would be a little (not very) surprised to see the Lions not take a corner on Friday.
On a related note...
Don't Let Janoris Jenkins Fall to Day 3
Look, I know I was hard on Janoris Jenkins this year. I devoted an entire article to talking about not drafting him.
So as much as this seems like I'm backtracking, that's okay. That's what articles posted between draft days are for. And really, the fact that nobody took Jenkins in the first round is important. He becomes an increasingly mitigated risk the further he falls.
It's still too risky for the Lions to risk whiffing on a second-round pick, but if Jenkins is still waiting around in the third (unlikely as that is), it's worth going all-or-nothing on a kid often projected to be the potential best cover corner in the draft.
Keep an Eye on Lavonte David
Lavonte David is a kid I started liking late in the draft process. What he lacks in versatility he makes up for in being a really, really good weakside linebacker.
In Detroit's defense, David would be a machine. As long as he's in the position he's suited for, he can do it all; run support, pass coverage, run, hit, blitz, whatever. David can do it and do it well.
Of course, David is also graded around the top of the second round, so the Lions would have a difficult time getting to him without trading, but trading might not be that bad an idea.
Then again, the Lions landed a great value in the first round by standing pat at No. 23, so maybe they can just sit back and wait for David (or another impact player) to fall to them again. But if David starts getting close, the Lions ought to keep an ear to the ground just in case.
Don't Sleep on the Offensive Line Yet
The Lions may have taken the best offensive lineman on the board in the first round in Reiff, but that doesn't mean it's a perfect unit just yet.
It's worth noting that two of the players often mocked to the Lions in the first round—Georgia's Cordy Glenn and Stanford's Jonathan Martin—remain on the board as we prepare for the second round. It is unlikely that the Lions get either of those guys, but by the same token, it was unlikely for them to get Reiff in the first round.
More likely is that the existence of those guys at the top of the second round pushes guys like Kelechi Osemele and Amini Silatolu further down towards the Lions.
That said, even more likely than the Lions going back-to-back at the top of the draft with offensive linemen is that the Lions take a developmental guard/center prospect on Day 3. Either way, don't expect that the Lions drop out of the OL market just because they drafted a quality player like Reiff.
Compile Some Extra Picks
These guys are shrewd. They know what they're doing, and they can play around with draft picks along with the best of them.
I wouldn't mind seeing some of this in the next couple of days. I was hoping for the Lions to trade back in the first with an abundance of potentially great picks still sitting in front of them.
Alas, they took a great player at No. 23 who would certainly not have been on the board for much longer and who fills a very difficult need to fill as a future left tackle.
But the Lions work magic with late-round picks and trades and the more opportunities they have, the better. If the Lions are faced with another situation (like in Round 1) where they have four great picks and room to move, they ought to give it a whirl, even if they're trading for picks in the 2013 draft.
Stick with What's Working
Best. Player. Available.
Reiff was it this year and while there are (arguable) deviations from it here and there, sticking to this simple rule has helped Martin Mayhew completely resurrect a sunken franchise in three short years.
Sure, the Lions got lucky by having a whole bunch of "best players available" fall to them at No. 23 which also happened to match up with glaring needs. So in that sense, maybe Reiff doesn't really count.
But let there be no doubt this is what Mayhew needs to continue with in the rest of this draft, and all of his drafts. He didn't reach for a corner in the first round because there were better players. He shouldn't do it in the second or third, either.
Sure, the Lions have to make sure they're drafting players they can use, rather than just blindly taking whichever unclaimed talent falls to them. But there is no reason at all for them to change a draft strategy that has reversed the direction of the franchise in less than half the time it took to drive it into the ground.