1. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
It seems increasingly likely that Joeckel goes to Kansas City first overall, with the departure of Eric Winston. But, between the impending retirement of Jeff Backus and the Lions' stubborn adherence to the "best player available" strategy, it's hard to imagine the Lions passing on Joeckel if the opportunity arises.
2. Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
It seems weird to put two offensive tackles at the top of the Lions' draft board, especially when they just took one in the first round of the 2012 draft. But, if we're talking about the two best players in this draft who are appropriate in both scheme and position for the Lions, it has to be Joeckel and Fisher.
03/15/13 UPDATE: Nothing lately has caused a shift in Joeckel and Fisher at the top of the Lions' board, but it's worth noting that Gosder Cherilus' departure in free agency and Jeff Backus' retirement just about carves these two positions in stone. They were the most talented players, and now they arguably correspond with the Lions' biggest need.
3. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
One of the most questionable prospects in this draft, Werner didn't show especially well at the Combine, clocking in at 4.83 in the 40-yard dash and bench pressing 25 reps. He faces a number of questions about how his lack of experience will transition to the NFL. He's also a tad bit small for a 4-3 DE, but he's more appropriate for it than other top-10 pass-rushers. The Lions will love his intensity.
4. Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, DE, BYU
Ansah is perhaps the most intriguing player in the 2013 draft. Like Werner, he is an exceptional athlete from overseas who only picked up football recently. Ansah went from completely oblivious to the game of football to having star quality in it in just a couple of years. The Lions got a good look at what a fast learner, which seems to suggest that he not only has a high ceiling, but an attainable one as well.
5. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama (▲ 2)
Warmack should be at the top of this list in some fans' minds, but it's exceptionally difficult to justify taking a player with as little impact as a guard—even a projected future All-Pro like Warmack—in the top 15, much less the top five. Regardless, this selection would instantly turn the gap left by Stephen Peterman's absense into a strong point. With Warmack and Riley Reiff holding down the right side of the line, the Lions would have a lot more success running the ball.
03/13/13 UPDATE: The Lions lost Gosder Cherilus in free agency but re-signed Chris Houston. Though the Lions have options at RG and RT, it's safe to assume the O-Line just became a bigger need than the CB position.
6. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (▼ 1)
It's no secret that the Lions' secondary is in need of an infusion of talent. Milliner showed up big at the combine, running a 4.37 40. This should solidify his status as a top 10 pick. The only question (and the only reason he isn't higher) is which of the Lions talented second-year cornerbacks would they give up on if they drafted Milliner: Bill Bentley, the highest-drafted? Chris Greenwood, the most physically talented? Or Jonte Green, the one with the most starting experience?
03/13/13 UPDATE: With the Lions investing three 2012 draft picks into cornerbacks, and now re-signing Chris Houston to a long-term deal, it seems increasingly unlikely that the Lions will take a CB at the top of the draft, if at all.
7. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia (▲ 1)
This is a bit of a scheme mix-up, which is why Jones is ninth on this board, and not second or third. Jones played as an OLB in a 4-3 scheme at Georgia, but he was primarily used as a pass-rusher. Where would that leave him in Detroit? He is explosive, but a likely mismatch for the Lions unless defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham starts dreaming up creative ways to use him.
8. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee (▲ 1)
It seems riot-inducing to think that the Detroit Lions, in the post-Millen era, would draft wide receivers in the first two rounds for three consecutive years. Regardless, it remains a fact that the Lions need a downfield threat to play opposite Calvin Johnson, as they have for half a decade. The Lions haven't had a Johnny Morton-type player since Morton himself played. Patterson could finally be the answer there.
9. Lane Johnson, OL, Oklahoma (▲ 1)
If Joeckel and Fisher are both taken in the first four picks, it's hard to believe that the Lions would take the third-best tackle with the fifth-overall pick in the draft, especially when tackle isn't a glaring, immediate need. Regardless, Johnson's stock has shot into the top 10 after showing stellar athleticism at the Combine.
10. Dion Jordan, OLB/DE, Oregon (Previously unranked)
With the Lions taking care of the starting safety position for next season, Kenny Vaccaro should not even be in the discussion as a potential first-round pick. Therefore Dion Jordan, who would have been roughly No. 11, moves up here. Jordan is certainly a talented pass-rusher, but seems a little too built as a 3-4 OLB for the Lions to get the most out of him. Then again, Cliff Avril was projected as a 3-4 OLB out of college, too. Sometimes projections are wrong.
Previously in the Top 10
Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas (formerly No. 6)
By far, the biggest need for the Lions this offseason will be safety, especially pending the results of Louis Delmas' foray into free agency. Vaccaro is the best available, but this draft crop is deep in safety talent. This may qualify as reaching for need.
03/15/13 UPDATE: The Lions signed former Texan Glover Quin and re-signed Louis Delmas, and that ostensibly sets both starting safety positions for next season. Vaccaro will be a good player, but at No. 5, he would have been a need-based reach. Now that there's no need, there's no reason to reach.