Who the Experts Are Predicting for the Detroit Lions' First-Round Draft Pick
General manager Martin Mayhew said the Lions will stick with the best player available draft strategy. However, the 2013 draft features a weak first-round class. Luckily for Detroit, the top options around the Lions' No. 5 pick could fill immediate needs at defensive end, cornerback or offensive tackle.
The draft can go in a number of directions, giving the Lions plenty of options to decide from. NFL experts have weighed in with their predictions on what Detroit will do at No. 5. Here are a few choices for the Lions' 2013 first-round draft pick.
1. CB Dee Milliner
NFL.com's Matt Smith sees the top-rated cornerback falling into the Lions' lap. With a bit of good fortune, Smith has Detroit drafting Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner with the No. 5 selection.
Milliner might not be an immediate star, but not many first-round prospects are. There's a high ceiling for Milliner's NFL future, though it may take time to advance his skill set. He's a physical corner that can tackle and run stride for stride with receivers using his impressive combine speed.
Based on Detroit's depth, cornerback is the last of the few positions in need of some additions. After re-signing veteran Chris Houston and safety Louis Delmas, as well as adding ball hawk Glover Quin, the Lions finally have a chance to solidify the secondary with Milliner.
2. OT Eric Fisher
The Lions lost long-time tackle Jeff Backus to retirement, cut guard Stephen Peterman and let right tackle Gosder Cherilus sign with the Indianapolis Colts. Detroit desperately lacks quality depth on the offensive line, and they must protect their franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford by any means necessary.
Walterfootball.com addresses that gaping hole, mocking Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher at No. 5.
The Lions have a legit starter in second-year lineman Riley Reiff, but they don't have a position for him yet. Reiff is capable of playing left or right tackle, as well as guard. Left guard is already solidified by Rob Sims, and the Lions are high on former Dallas Cowboy Bill Nagy and practice squad lineman Rodney Austin to compete at right guard.
Reiff will more than likely open up next season as one of the starting tackles. If Fisher is available at No. 5, he'll create an effective tandem with Reiff. Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel could also be in play if Fisher is drafted ahead of him.
3. DE Ezekiel Ansah
Currently, the Lions only have three defensive ends on their roster—Willie Young, Ronnell Lewis and newly acquired lineman Jason Jones. All are young edge rushers with plenty to prove—they are in need of a little help in front of them.
Detroit is now without former captain Kyle Vanden Bosch after cutting him, and Cliff Avril signed a new deal with the Seattle Seahawks. After losing these two former starters, the Lions really need to upgrade at defensive end.
This year's draft is rich with defensive end prospects, but none are really worth a No. 5 pick. Many have high potential but could also be risky with a draft pick so valuable. ESPN's Todd McShay sees the Lions pulling the trigger on BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah.
Ansah may have a boatload of upside, but the Lions can't afford to miss with this pick. He's drawn comparisons to New York Giant Jason Pierre-Paul due to his elite athleticism but raw ability. Ansah didn't stand out much during college, but he showed well during the Senior Bowl, where head coach Jim Schwartz and other coaches got a first-hand look.
The Lions are better off gambling on a project player like Michigan State's William Gholston with a late-round pick instead of using a high-risk, high-reward pick on Ansah. The Lions must strike gold with their No. 5 selection, and that's more than likely to happen by not drafting Ansah.