2010 NFL Draft: Detroit Lions' Other Draft Targets
This was such a foregone conclusion, we didn't even need to discuss it with one another. In fact, the only thing we did discuss was which of us would announce the pick.
In Schottey's words to me, "If you want to select Gerald McCoy, I can write an article about the other options. Otherwise, I can select McCoy, and you can do the others."
With Ndamukong Suh off the board, a woefully thin Lions front, and Jim Schwartz's penchant for skilled defensive tackles, McCoy was the obvious pick. But what if he wasn't?
This is a rundown of some alternatives to selecting McCoy with the second overall pick, in case the Lions want to be, you know, wrong (and let's face it, they often are).
Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
My feelings on the Lions drafting Eric Berry are well documented , but as we approach the combine, Berry is still widely (but not unanimously) considered the top prospect in the draft.
Frankly, there's still a part of me that wants to see a defensive backfield of Berry and Louis Delmas. We've seen what Delmas has to offer, and Berry is a ball-hawking safety with a build that enables him to play the run as well as the pass. The pair of them would become the best young safety tandem in football.
Selecting Eric Berry would certainly give the Lions some options with two talented, versatile safeties.
It would also put the two of them on an island defensively.
You see, Eric Berry is a playmaker. Louis Delmas is also a playmaker. But they can't make all the plays.
When a quarterback has all day to throw, the safeties lose. When cornerbacks can't cover their assigned men, the safeties lose. And if the Lions want to depend on their safeties to stop the run because the defensive line is getting pushed back, the whole defense loses.
Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
Mentioning Jeff Backus to a knowledgeable Lions fan will, more often than not, result in a scowl, a grumble, or on rare occasions, a punch in the face. Sometimes all three.
Most fans are ready to burn him at the stake, but for some reason, Backus has managed to make four different coaching staffs absolutely swear by him, despite the quarterbacks under those four coaches taking a beating in the process.
Still, Backus isn't getting any younger, and a move to guard is all but imminent since he's in the middle of a long-term contract. Russell Okung is the best left tackle in this draft, so if the Lions want to replace Backus at that spot, Okung is the guy to take.
As it were, Jim Schwartz has thrown his unwavering support behind Backus, and unless he's playing misdirection games again (not out of the question), he has no intention of replacing Backus.
I will admit that much of the pressure on Matthew Stafford last year came up the middle, due to the revolving-door situation the Lions are facing at guard. Moving Backus inside would solve one of those problems, but so would choosing a strong guard in one of the middle rounds.
Furthermore, Okung is the top of the class this year when it comes to tackles, but he leads a weak class. The Lions might be better able—and more willing—to fill that impending vacancy in next year's draft.
Joe Haden, CB, Florida
If there's one area where the Lions are even thinner than on the defensive line, it's at cornerback.
Even before injuries stacked up last season, the Lions were trying to make do with a stable full of No. 2 guys and nickelbacks falling all over themselves to cover big-time receivers.
If they had just one shutdown corner, it would improve the whole unit, with the rest of the roster no longer having to play in positions beyond their abilities.
Phillip Buchanon could be a capable No. 2 guy but is poor as a No. 1. Will James or Eric King could be capable nickelbacks, but both struggle on the wing. Haden could be the ideal candidate to head up the secondary and push everyone else into their respective comfort zones.
Unless his stock shoots up at the combine, Haden is currently considered a mid-first round pick. For the Lions to grab him with the second pick would be a huge reach.
Haden is another example of the top player in a weak class. He's not even necessarily the top player, since some mock drafts show Florida State's Patrick Robinson going before Haden.
If the Lions were willing and able to trade down from the second pick, either Haden or Robinson would be decent targets. They could likely move down 10-15 spots and still snag one of them, while amassing even more valuable draft picks.
But then, this article isn't about what the Lions could trade down to get; it's about what they should take second overall. And unless he can run a 40 in about 3.9, Haden will be a reach anywhere in the top five, possibly even in the top 10.
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