What Lions Fans Learned from the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2013

With the fifth pick of the 2013 NFL draft, there are a ton of ways the Detroit Lions can go and we got a great look at some options for them at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine.

There are plenty of takeaways from the event, and here are a few Lions fans should concentrate on from here on out.


Lions Almost Can't Lose

There is no such thing as a sure thing, especially in the NFL draft. That said, this team is in a great position to grab a top player for any one of a number of needs.

Sure, there aren't any running backs or wide receivers worth the fifth pick, but the draft has plenty of depth at those positions. I would also say fifth is a bit too high for a safety, though I can see an argument, especially for Kenny Vaccaro.

Some combination of Vaccaro, Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Bjoern Werner, Dee Milliner, Dion Jordan, Lane Johnson, Jarvis Jones and more will be there.

Barring a bizarre grab of a skill position player they don't need or a punter, it's going to be hard to go with a bad position.

Of course, there could be busts even among players who look great right now.

Still, those are the risks with any draft for any team. As it stands, there are a ton of very talented players to grab with the No. 5 pick.

I just happen to think one fits best.


Secondary Could Set Table with Milliner for a Long Time

Begin the debate!

I've already seen the split among fans and media as to whether Milliner is worth the No. 5 pick.

Listen, if they see Fisher or Joeckel sitting there, could I complain? I couldn't, because both guys are very talented and worth the pick—even if offensive line is a far lower need than secondary.

And some will say Vaccaro is a better fit because safety is also a huge need. Again, I can't fault it.

However for me, the corners are a bigger issues and all Dee Milliner did at the combine was solidify my desire to see him in a Lions jersey.

He didn't have the greatest combine, mind you, fighting off a torn labrum. However, his biggest issue for people (not me, but many others) was speed, and he answered the bell on that.

Is he as good as Patrick Peterson? Perhaps not. However, the Lions need to stop waiting on corners and safeties, hoping to strike gold in later rounds. It isn't working.

The drop-off from Milliner to the next corner is steep. I love his cover skills and his overall ability to ball—while not a ball hawk by any stretch, he could be the cornerstone of the Detroit secondary for years to come.

Like I said in the first paragraph though—it's going to be hard for the Lions to go wrong at five.

And here's the thing...


They Can Lock a Franchise LT if One Is Left

I am not as high on Lane Johnson as some are, but I do love Fisher and Joeckel, even though the offensive line is OK as is.

Joeckel/Fisher to me would absolutely be worth the fifth pick overall, and as much as I love Milliner, can you argue with a franchise left tackle? The Lions need to give Matt Stafford time to throw, and Joeckel and Fisher would do that.

Of course, many things this offseason can change this.

Again, I'm not as high on Johnson as some and don't believe he's worth the fifth overall, but I don't think it would be insane if they felt he was worth that value.

As I said before, all this really says is that the Lions are in a great spot with the fifth pick.


Deep Classes at WR and RB

Now we know that Calvin Johnson can't do it alone. Titus Young is gone, Ryan Broyles is raw and coming off his second severe leg injury in two years and Nate Burleson is old and coming off a broken leg. Meanwhile, Joique Bell is serviceable (a little more than, really), but not spectacular as is Mikel Leshoure.

While both backs can be effective, the Lions will want to bring in another player to work into the rotation—assuming the long-rumored "Reggie Bush to Lions" connection doesn't happen.

Frankly, even if it does, they still need a long term solution.

Luckily there are a lot of talented backs and receivers to choose from. While this isn't a top heavy draft in terms of talent, there is a ton of depth.

There is no reason for the Lions to go early if quality players are there for other, less deep, needs.

All this, of course, depends on free agency and how that first round of the draft plays out. But again, good to know where they stand in terms of opportunity.


Edge Rush Heavy

There are a lot of edge rushers to chose from throughout the draft. Now, there are some potentially special ones at the top, but for the most part you can find plenty of pass-rushers.

Now, if the Lions decided to go another direction with their first (or even second) pick, they can find players to attack the quarterback later.

Or even if they go with an edge rusher early, they can also find more help late. It isn't as if they don't need it or wouldn't find work for the player to do.

This is a solid draft for outside players. Fans will be happy the closer they look at both outside linebacker and defensive end classes.


With that, the combine coverage for the Lions is pretty much done. I'll be shifting to some prospect-specific articles about guys the team could look at throughout the draft as well as general free agency and team analysis.

What stood out to you from the combine? What should the Lions and fans have learned last weekend? Let me know in the comments.


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