Detroit Lions: The Roar Heard in Indy

Michael MrockCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2009

A new day has begun in the jungle with the Lions.  The franchise is proving that they have turned a page from the past and are writing a new future.

As opposed to past drafts where they have locked in on strategies such as drafting receivers with their first picks, they are now taking a new direction.

The surprise of the combine for the team was the lack of interest that the assumed No. 1 pick, Andre Smith, had towards the events in Lucas Oil Stadium.

He presented himself out of shape and not participating.  As if to give an intent to tank it so the Lions won't pick him.

If he wants to lose his draft position, so be it.  He is proving that the Lions don't have to pick him.  They can actually pick someone else first who actually wants to help improve an 0-16 team.

Therefore, the other two positions of great interest are quarterback and linebacker.  They are the two most important on the field as they are the main leadership roles for a football team.  Leadership was obviously lacking on the Lions last season and now is the time for a fresh start.

Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez are the quarterback favorites.  They have what it takes to play in the NFL. However, is it best to draft one of them first when so many QB's including the previous two Heisman trophy winners, will be in next year's draft? 

However with Dan Orlovsky seeking free agency, the Lions might have to draft Stafford or Sanchez to fill the void as Jon Kitna and Drew Stanton's roles with the team are up in the air. 

Daunte Culpepper is considered the current starter after he got a new contract, and new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan used to coach him in Minnesota.  

However, Stafford or Sanchez are the type of quarterbacks that will not let Culpepper have the job without a fight. 

Aaron Curry, Rey Maualuga and James Laurinaitis are the linebacker favorites.  Curry comes from Wake Forest which may not get the national attention of USC or OSU. 

However, he has the talent and maturity to be a force in why Wake Forest has recently become a regular in the later part of the bowl season.

Maualuga and Laurinaitis bring an intensity that made them fan favorites at their colleges and will easily make them fan favorites in the Motor City.

Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham will be excited to have a linebacker of this caliber to build a defense around.

It safe to assume that one of these players will be picked first and there is hope by the time the 20th pick arrives, one of the others will be there for the taking.  There is a good chance the quarterbacks will be picked by then. 

One of the linebackers might still be there at the 20th pick.  The decision seems to be QB first and LB at 20, or so it seems.  The only other positions to be looked at then should be an offensive or defensive lineman.  Regardless, the Lions are not tipping their hands.

There is an eternity until the draft, so the assumed strategy could easily change.  The Lewand/Mayhew/Schwartz era is serious about improving from last season.  The combine is only the beginning for their decision making. 

Pro workouts and further discussions with the players and their agents will follow.  The first pick might not be known for some time, however it is a relief to see that the Lions are taking their time to decide who goes first.