Here's a glance at how the first round of the NFL Draft has played out for the Detroit Lions these past two seasons:
With the first pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Matthew Stafford.
With the 20th pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Brandon Pettigrew.
With the second pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Ndamukong Suh.
With the 30th pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Jahvid Best.
Under Martin Mayhew, the Lions traded up in last year's draft to acquire Best; Pettigrew was the first round pick Detroit received in the Roy Williams trade.
Didn't that turn out to be a sweet deal?
In the first round of the previous two drafts, the Lions hit the nail on the head with each of their top picks.
Although Stafford has been injured the first two seasons, he had no injury history at Georgia and was the consensus No. 1 overall pick.
On the other hand, Suh's contributions so far speaks for itself.
The Lions currently sit with the 13th overall pick. Hitting on a mid-round pick won't be as easy because the choices aren't as obvious. There are many more players the Lions have to take into consideration.
Will Detroit have 2 first round picks for the 3rd straight year?
The positives of having the 13th pick is even if the rookie wage scale remains the same (highly unlikely), the Lions' top pick won't hit their salary cap as hard as a top 10 pick would.
That means there is more cap-room to possibly re-sign Calvin Johnson after his contract expires.
The 13th pick also won't have as much pressure to start immediately if it isn't necessary. For the first year, the top pick can at least be an insurance policy for the Lions (assuming it's a lineman).
Think of what happened with Jason Pierre-Paul and the Giants last season—that would be what J.J. Watt's first year would be like if he were drafted by the Lions.
If the Lions draft an offensive lineman, he may end up having a season similar to Brian Bulaga.
A rookie that may get more playing time due to injuries or sub-par line play—right Mr. Peterman?
If Mayhew feels he must grab a certain player on draft day, he will trade up. But he'll likely stay put at No. 13 and wait to see which player will fall into his lap.
Would Mayhew then consider swapping spots with the Texans to reunite Suh with his former teammate?
There is also a slim chance he could slip down to No. 13. It's OK to dream.
Speculation aside, none of the above rules out Detroit trading back into the bottom of the first round and grabbing an impact player.
Mayhew has done it before; he might just do it again.
What would the reaction be if he stuck to his philosophy and ended up drafting two DL (a DT and DE) with his first two picks? Will it be OK because he drafted the best players available? Or will he be criticized for failing to fulfill team needs?
Detroit had needs larger than TE or RB in the past two drafts. But, it's not like those two positions didn't need upgrades either.
Mayhew was still able to address team issues.
Consider this: What if adding talent is the team's biggest need?
Well, players drafted based on talent are more likely to match the right set of expectations, even if they don't fill the team's biggest need.
It would be much better than Brandon Harris, Akeem Ayers, Bruce Carter or Jimmy Smith going No. 13 overall. The Lions would address one of their largest needs by selecting one of them, but it also increases bust potential since all are reaches in the mid-first.
Also, drafting them above their stocks because of needs would cause the team to pay the rookies more than they deserve.
However, trading from the second round up into the bottom of the first round (like last year) and getting one of the above-mentioned players would sit well with many fans.
Mayhew might be the first one calling Bill Belichick about the 28th overall pick.
Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz laid out a solid foundation to continue building upon. They now have to show the rest of the league they can have a solid draft class without a top two pick.
Since free agency can't be touched until a new CBA is worked out, this draft will be crucial to the Lions' success in 2011.
Only Stafford's questionable health will be more important.
Detroit is no longer in a state of flux. Part of their path to success includes more mid- to late-round picks in the future.
If everything goes according to plan, get used to it Detroit!