The word from Allen Park is that the Detroit Lions will once again draft the best talent available in this years draft. Last year many of us were scared out of our wits realizing the best talent was a Quarterback while knowing how much the Lions needed to bring the "D" back to Detroit. Cheers and chants for Aaron Curry rocked the room at a press conference with Lions president Tom Lewand last spring before the draft, and we all know what went down after that. But this year going after the best talent available is great news because the class of 2010 is stock piled with talented players on defense. Now that we have learned that Matthew Stafford is one tough competitor, you can almost hear fans of the Detroit Lions (and the management) breathing one big long collectiveve sigh of relief knowing they can scratch off QB's from the best available talent list because they all ready have that piece of the puzzle. It's pretty obvious too that the Lions have more needs on defense. They lack play makers in both the defensive secondary as well as on the defensive line, and until they get both pieces of that puzzle, the lions will remain the NFL standard for poor defense with moments of mediocrity sprinkled on top just to tease the fans of what could be.
So lets not kid our selves here, this year there is no controversial debate to go over (ala QB Vs LB) because the best talent in the draft boils down to the two big DT's Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. Lets face it Lions fans, either one of these guys will set a new high bar standard for the defensive front 4 in Detroit. Both of them will stop the run, all though Suh has a slight edge stopping the run. Both of them will rush the passer all though McCoy has a decided edge on Suh in pass rushing. Both of them have superior strength, speed, explosiveness and non-stop motors that could spell problems for opposing offenses. So to be totally honest with you, I'm not too worried about who St. Louis picks with the number one pick in the draft. Because McCoy and Suh are so closely matched in skills, and so far superior to anything the Detroit Lions have fielded since Jerry Ball or Sean Rogers. It would be interesting to see the Rams pick Bradford or Claussen just to see which one of these two DT's the Lions rank higher, but either way the Lions win here with the 2nd pick of the draft.
Behind the front 4 we have the one strengths of the Lions defense last year, the linebacker group. Obviously we are all going to be looking for some solid play and a little improvement out of 2nd year ILB DeAndre Levy. I for one want to see them step to the plate and offer Larry Foote a real contract to keep him around for at least 2-3 years. People may completely underestimate how much Levy learned from Foote in his rookie season, and for him to continue to grow into an NFL ILB, Levy has to have someone like Foote around to learn from. Someone to take advice from who's been there (two Superbowl rings). With the right leadership and coaching, Levy could become the best linebacker Detroit has fielded since Chris Spielman was a Lion. So the nice thing about all this is that we're not too concerned about the line backing group going into the draft. However those guys behind the LB's need some attention.
Drafting a powerhouse DT this year will do little good if he's always just a half second to late to hit the quarterback because there were 3 open receivers to chose from down field. This is a passing football league and if you can get one open receiver down field and have an accurate passer to get him the ball, you have something to work with. The Lions routinely gave up the big play last year, more than any other team because they lacked both a pass rush and coverage down field. When you have both of these things though, everything changes on defense. EverReady's job gets so much easier, and it elevates the play of the other players on the field. So all though the Lions have stated they will draft the best talent available, in this case I think need surely trumps talent. The Lions defensive backs have been plagued with injuries, mental mistakes, poor tackling, poor coverage, lack of depth and just an overall lack of talent for quite some time now. It does you little to no good to have the best offense in the world if you can't cover your opponents and stop the pass. The Colts showed us this year what a highly efficient offense looks like when it's paired with a defense that can't stop the pass. Statistics show us as well that the best teams (Superbowl winners) have better defenses than Superbowl losers. So it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see why they say that Defense Wins Championships. So with the 2nd pick, going with a huge need here the Lions should look for a shut down corner. By the 2nd pick of the 2nd round, there may be a corner or two off the board, but there are still plenty of talented guys to go after in this years class. With talented guys like Patrick Robinson, Dominique Franks, Kyle Wilson, Kareem Jackson, Devin McCourty and others projected to be available in round 2 Detroit should look to pick one of these higher ranked corners, or see if any of the projected 1st round corners that fall to round 2 are worth taking. With a solid corner that can cover the go-to receivers of opposing offenses, the Lions new DT, will have more opportunities to hit the passer as more men are covered down field (coverage sacks). One can only hope that there is a talented enough athlete left at the corner position by round 2 but at this point I think the Lions should really just buck up and admit that they've got massive talent needs at the corner position and to start fixing that problem with the 2nd pick in the draft.
Once these two aspects of defense have been covered, the Lions may want to look for a best available DE in round 3. Guys like Greg Hardy, and Alex Carrington are among the biggest DE's in this years draft and they're projected to be available in round 3. Adding one of these rookie DE's to the front 4 with the addition of Suh or McCoy would make the Lions new D line a very exciting aspect to look forward to in the 2010 season. All though I find it nigh impossible that the Lions would ever draft 3 guys to the defense in the first 3 rounds of a draft, I'm going to go ahead and be the first admit this is never really going to happen. Outside of sure thing first round picks most mock drafts are completely inaccurate. But they're sure fun to read, talk about and discuss in the weeks leading up to the draft. Let me know what you think about this concept Lions fans. Am I the only one who wants to see the D back in DETROIT or what?