When you are three years removed from losing 16 games you are almost required to draft the best talent in the NFL Draft regardless of position.
In 2011, with the 13th selection the Detroit Lions may be in the position of taking an offensive tackle of the future, if indeed that player is the best available at the time.
Detroit is not deep on the offensive line and has many issues. While I believe that the offensive line was much improved last year, the lack of depth is down right scary. With Corey Hilliard possibly becoming a free agent, Jason Fox is left as the only qualified replacement player behind Gosder Cherilus and Jeff Backus.
That worry is only compounded by Cherilus' recent injury problems and Backus' age. We need another offensive tackle on the roster who is of starting caliber, and I think we can find him in free agency instead of using our precious first round pick on one.
Some of these are names you know, and some are not. My top choice is sure to start a controversy with a life of its own, but I have to write what I believe to be true.
Here are my top five free agent solutions to Detroit's offensive tackle problem:
Charlie Johnson - Indianapolis
If he is good enough for Peyton Manning, he is good enough for me. Johnson, 26, has played five years in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts. He is a solid pass blocker and run blocker. He has played both tackle positions and would provide excellent depth to a weak unit for Detroit.
Being only 26 years old, Johnson still has a lot of fuel left in his tank and could be around for a number of years. He has started 43 of 48 games for the Colts over the last three seasons and has proved to be reliable. If he wasn't, Peyton would have had him replaced long ago.
The face of a man who loves to hit people.
I like Tyson Clabo and I like him a lot. The only reason I have him this low is because he is pushing 30 years old. One of my main components in this top five list is youth, and Clabo doesn't have that on his side. However, that being said, this guy is a beast.
Clabo has been a full time starter at right tackle for the Atlanta Falcons for the last three years. He is a mauler of a run blocker and throw back to the past. I could only imagine having someone with his nastiness on our offensive line.
The other plus with Clabo is maybe he could help entice offensive guard Harvey Dahl to come with him. But that is a whole other top five list.
I think Willie Colon is one of the best young offensive tackles in the game today. He had been a mainstay on the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line for the last three years prior to last years season ending injury in June, 2010. That is my biggest question with Willie; can he overcome a terrible injury and come back the same player?
I think he can and I think he will. He will be completely healthy and rehabbed by the time the 2011 season starts and I believe he will come back stronger than ever. It would be nice to see him do it in Honolulu Blue.
The injury may also drop his asking price a bit, but there is also the strong chance he will resign with the Steelers anyways. He would be a nice addition and definitely strengthen Detroit's tackle position.
Jared Gaither is one of the top prizes on the free agent market this year. He could start at both the left or right tackle for almost any team and has built a reputation as a strong blocker. He was a starter for two years before being bitten by the injury bug. His main issue right now is a thoracic back issue that may linger over the course of his career.
He may be the riskiest of the top five, but he also may have the highest ceiling of the players mentioned. At only 24 years old, Gaither still has a long career ahead of him and if his back can hold up, the skies the limit.
He would be welcomed as a Detroit Lion and offer unlimited potential, but will injuries derail his chances.
Will he get a second chance?
Yep, that's right. You read it correctly. Tony Washington.
First thing is first, about his past. If you don't know about his past, read up about it from an informed source as I do not have the time to delve into it. I think his punishment is far to sever for his crime and I know many others feel the same way.
He is not a danger to society. He is not a danger to small children. The only thing he is a danger to, is your public relations department if you are an NFL franchise.
That all being said. LOOK AT THAT PICTURE!!! He is a physically talented freak of nature who was slated as high as low first round even though he came from small Abilene Christian.
He has all the tools to become a pro bowl caliber left tackle in the NFL, and with the proper coaching he could become all of that and more.
He recently had signed with the Dallas Vigilantes of the Arena Football League. It is only a matter of time before someone signs him, and he becomes the starter for years to come.
Why not the Detroit Lions? His character has never been in question. He is very up from about what he did, and how sorry he is. He is young and talented. He could be gotten for an extremely low price.
The only thing keeping him off of the roster is the potential for a PR nightmare. Winning cures all ills, and it would inevitably cure this one as well.
Sign him Martin Mayhew, or we will miss out once again.