Detroit will pick one of Matt Stafford, Jason Smith, or Aaron Curry. Desirability in that order.
The Lions are on the clock as I type this though, and represent the only team in the draft that can make its pick before the draft starts.
It seems clear that Detroit will sign the first guy who puts pen to paper at least 48 hours before the draft. Stafford and his agent will be given enough time to negotiate with the Lions and come to an agreement.
If they can, Stafford is No. 1.
If he’s not signed two days before the draft, then it's on to the next guy. There is no way Detroit will risk a lengthy, expensive quarterback holdout with a pick they probably don’t even want.
Now, the interesting part: Smith and Stafford share the same agent. Meaning he could play one against the other in order to make sure that the Lions pay one of them.
And pay them big.
Demanding big money for both, would, in effect, price one player out and force Detroit to pay the other.
Either that or pick neither of them.
One thing to remember is that tackles and quarterbacks are highly paid whenever they fall in the top five. Matt Ryan and Joe Thomas both got first-pick money and record-breaking deals.
Neither was No. 1.
I’m not sure that Stafford, Smith, or their mutual agents will be bullied into taking anything less than a record deal, no matter who ends up as the top pick.
In steps Mr. Curry.
Even record linebacker money doesn’t approach what teams would have to pay Stafford and Smith. Their demands could very well open the door for a guy like Curry to be picked at No. 1.
Signing Curry at No. 1 would be a very easy deal for any team to make, and I'm sure Curry would be delighted to move up two places for bragging rights alone.
The only thing that may hold Detroit is that they would more than likely have to make a rookie the highest paid linebacker in football history.
Effectively paying Curry, an unproven rookie, more money than Demarcus Ware, Ray Lewis, and Brian Urlacher, could be a mental block they find impossible to overcome.
They are, of course, happy to do this for tackles and quarterbacks, but signing an unproven linebacker to that kind of money could be a mental block for the Lions.
However, it is not entirely out of the question.
New head coach Jim Schwarz is a defensive guy who loves linebackers. He stated recently that Curry would be able to step in and be an “every down player immediately” if picked.
Logic suggests that Stafford and Smith are the Lions' top two guys. But there is no guarantee that either will be taken No. 1.
Bill Parcells, the Dolphins' vice president of football operations admitted post-draft that he would have passed on last year's No. 1 pick Jake Long if he was unsigned on draft day.
His reasoning? A 1-15 team couldn’t afford lengthy, expensive hold-outs.
Detroit is in the same situation.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Curry finds himself the No. 1 pick.