The Detroit Lions' Most Important Draft Day Decision: Which Hole Is Left?

David McClureCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 28: Members of the Detroit Lions prepare to play the Green Bay Packers on December 28, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 31-21. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)


The draft will be here and gone before we know it, and a full summer of practice and speculation will begin. In Detroit, at least in recent years, the question looming has been “Can they turn it around this year?”.

Over the past few seasons, there has been nothing to hold on to except hope. The start of the 2007 season had us looking at playoffs, only to turn into “the same old Lions.”

This offseason has taken on a different feel. New management (well sort of), a new coaching staff, and a rebuilt roster have helped to bring new interest and undoubtedly new hope to us fans.

With the free agency signings coming to an end, we all can begin to see a picture of what the Lions may do in the draft. There is a lot of speculation; after all, we all know what’s best, right?

The most attention has been focused on the No. 1 overall pick.  Is it Matt Stafford, Jason Smith, Aaron Curry, or someone we don’t expect?

With so many decisions to make and so many holes to fill, it is becoming apparent that the Lions have one all-important question they have to ask.

Which need gets overlooked?

Realistically, to fill all 10 holes and add necessary depth, the Lions would have to trade down the No. 1 pick for a first, second, late round this year, and a pick next year. That would add two more picks.

They then would need to trade down the No. 20 pick or the first round pick they acquired from trading down at No. 1, adding one or two more picks. By trading down, the Lions could end up with as many as 11 picks in the draft. If they can hit on all 11 and get starters then hell might just freeze over. 

The Lions addressed many holes in free agency, but not enough. The draft should fill several holes, but not all. Even if the Lions draft a starter with five of their picks, they still will have some holes left.

Looking at the current roster, we can identify as many as 10 holes: middle linebacker, strong safety, cornerback, defensive tackle, defensive end, quarterback, tight end, wide receiver, left tackle, left guard, and depth.

Some needs are less important than others. The Lions have a No. 1 and No. 2 receiver, but a No. 3 is still a need. Quarterback and middle linebacker are much bigger needs at this point than cornerback. We have safeties but no true strong safety.

So how do the Lions decide which hole to ignore and how do they address the remaining needs in the future?

There are options. If we look at draft boards we see several different scenarios. Some have a quarterback as the most important guy, and that puts Stafford at No. 1. Others have the Lions waiting a year to get a quarterback and drafting Smith or Curry.

What we need to look at is which other positions will we need to look for next year. If we get a quarterback this year, then we likely will solidify the offensive line. That means the defense will be sub-par again.

It’s a tough spot to be in, but here we are. We all need to realize that long-term success will mean short-term failures.

My take: Give me the best available players at positions of need in the first three rounds. After that, give me the best available players regardless of position. Simple. Worst case scenario, you have guys that can be traded in the future.