On Day 3 of the 2013 NFL draft, the unthinkable happened. Quinton Patton continued to fall. In fact, he fell all the way to the San Francisco 49ers, who took him with the 31st pick of the fourth round. While for a while it looked as though Patton may fall all the way to the Lions' compensatory pick in that round, the fact remains that they missed a golden opportunity to trade up and get one of the biggest steals in the draft.
I have already made it very clear what I think of Patton in other articles this draft season. In fact, I still believe that he would have been a good value pick in the second round for the Lions. He has the ideal skill set for a No. 2 wide receiver because of his safe hands, well-developed route-running ability and the general polish to his game.
He also has great acceleration and quickness and enough speed to threaten defenses deep. Unless there is some unknown character or injury concern that has not been released to the public, it seems impossible to me that the Lions would not bend over backwards to take him this late in the draft.
In the end, Patton was only drafted four places ahead of the Lions, so perhaps Detroit's front office thought he would fall all the way to them. However, if you take a look at the draft board you would realize that this is quite naive. The Baltimore Ravens had two picks between the 49ers and the Lions, and would have likely selected Patton given their lack of talent at receiver after trading away Anquan Boldin and the fact that they had yet to add a wideout in the draft
Even worse, it would not have been difficult for the Lions to trade above the 49ers to get Patton. The Denver Broncos traded the 125th overall pick (two ahead of the 49ers) to the Green Bay Packers in return for a fifth and sixth-round pick. Since the Lions were drafting ahead of the Packers, they could have easily provided a better offer since their fifth-round pick was 10 spots ahead of the Packers and their sixth round pick was two positions ahead.
While it is possible that the Packers would have increased the bounty they were willing to offer to move up, the Lions would have probably been in a position to offer better value.
Finally, this trade up would not have limited the Lions' ability to draft Devin Taylor, or an even better developmental defensive end like Cornelius Washington. The Lions would have still had the 35th pick of the fourth round, which couldn't be traded because it is a compensatory pick. Taylor was likely to still be available, as were other athletic defensive ends like Cornelius Washington or David Bass who I believe are even better.
In conclusion, I believe that the Detroit Lions' front office missed out on a golden opportunity to make a massive upgrade to their roster. Patton would have given a massive boost to their receiving corps, and the loss of their fifth and sixth-round picks would not have been that disastrous given that there were no great players who fell that far.