In the 2009 NFL draft the Detroit Lions drafted quarterback Matthew Stafford as the cornerstone of the franchise. This season has been predictably difficult for the rookie QB whose team is painfully short on talent. Short of a sudden miracle turnaround, the Lions are looking like a guarantee for a top five (if not top three) pick in the 2010 draft.
As a die-hard Lions fan, once the Lions have reached this point (1-6) with no real hope of winning many, if any more games the rest of the season, I begin to look ahead to the draft, where maybe, hopefully, some talent can infuse this team and make it possible to win four games in a year.
I want to look at the first three rounds of the draft. Players who maybe available and what positions I think the Lions should target.
The Lions have so many holes its sad. In round one, the Lions should target defensive line, offensive line and secondary. The Lions secondary could be considered the weakest link on the team, but the offensive and defensive lines are close behind.
Jeff Backus has been a reliable and a solid left tackle, but both guard positions lack a clear starter and right tackle is still a work in progress with second-year player Gosder Cherilus. This year's draft seems weak on rock solid offensive line players worthy of a first-round pick outside of Oklahoma State offensive lineman Russell Okung.
Defensive tackle is in transition. Rookie Sammie Hill has played better then expected, but he needs a partner inside. Grady Jackson is a stop gap player (like most on the defensive line) so the Lions should be looking at defensive tackles as well as defensive end. The Lions pass rush is very weak. The 2010 draft has several very good DT's as well as DE's that should be top-10 picks.
DT: Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy lead the defensive tackles, while Carlos Dunlap is the lead DE is the class of this group. If the Lions choose to draft along the d-line, I would draft one of these tackles. Both McCoy and Suh are good run stoppers as well as being able to put pressure on the QB.
Secondary: Second-round pick safety Louis Delmas has shown improvement as the season has progressed. The other three spots in the secondary have been a string of revolving doors. Defensive back Eric Berry, corner back Joe Haden, and S Taylor May are the elite players in the secondary in this years draft (assuming Berry and Haden leave school early). Berry and May play primarily safety. All three players have good upside and could be starters from day one.
In round one I would like to see the Lions draft DL help. I believe a successful football team is built around defense and a good defense is built along the line. My preference would be Suh, McCoy, or Dunlap.
It would be easy to say round two should follow the mold of round one picking the "best" player to fit one of the areas not addressed in round one. I have a different opinion.
Following the Lions loss to the St. Louis Rams and their dismantling by the Green Bay Packers, it has shown just how valuable wide receiver Calvin Johnson is to the Lions and how badly they needed another weapon on offense. In round two, I would love to see the Lions draft WR/PR Jordan Shipley.
Shipley would help the Lions on two fronts: One, he is an excellent slot receiver with good hands and after the catch ability. Secondly, Shipley is an above average punt/kick returner, another area of the Lions team this year which has been exceptionally bad.
If Shipley is unavailable, the Lions should then look to the secondary,offensive line and defensive line.
Again, the Lions secondary,offensive line, and defensive line are so poor, round three should be an effort to continue to build there. In round three in 2009, the Lions scored with outside linebacker DeAndre Levy.
Some players who could be interesting and available in round three such as: Kyle Wilson, CB Boise State, Mitch Petrus OG, Arkansas, Mike Johnson, OL Alabama, Sam Young, OT Notre Dame, and Kyle Calloway, OL Iowa.
I think Johnson would be a good pick here as he has played multiple OL positions and has played them well.
The Lions remain two good drafts from a .500 season. It is critical for the Lions to improve their defense and offensive lines if they are going to get out of the NFL basement.